FAO workshop in Montenegro for rainbow trout producers

MontenegroSituated in the south of the Adriatic, Montenegro has very favourable conditions for rainbow trout farming.

After becoming a separate and independent state from Serbia in 2006, the country has been reinforcing its fisheries sector with aquaculture production. Currently, the output of farmed fish and seafood is estimated to average 520 tonnes a year. Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) is the main freshwater farmed species, and although the production output is moderate, there are 26 rainbow trout farms with a total average annual production of 268 tonnes. Typically these are small, family owned farms (or owned by small enterprises), producing 5–20 tonnes per year with the exception of four larger farms which produce 50–130 tonnes per year. Most of the farms use raceways, while a few sites use cage production systems. Fish is produced mainly for the domestic market; with small quantities exported to neighbouring countries, e.g. Serbia and Macedonia.

Specific problems of the sector include the implementation of HACCP systems, heavy competition from suppliers of rainbow trout from Bosnia and Herzegovina, use of older equipment. The three-day workshop “Food safety in rainbow trout production”, which was held in Podgorica on 25-27 September 2012, addressed the needs of the farmed rainbow trout sector and was designed for small-scale enterprises in Montenegro and neighboring Albania. The workshop was organized as part of the Technical Cooperation Project by the FAO and co-organized by Eurofish and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Montenegro.

A candidate country to the EU since 2010, Montenegro is actively working on the implementation of the reforms in the fisheries and aquaculture sector. The two days of the workshop were dedicated to different topics divided into two major parts: “Production, trade regulations and regional aspects” and “HACCP, certification and quality management”. The presentations of the first part included an overview of the rainbow trout markets in Europe and current trends, regulations for export to the EU and regional aspects of trout production and control in Montenegro and in Albania. The second part of the workshop was focused on HACCP and its practical application in small-scale trout processing industry, Good Aquaculture Practices, traceability and certification in aquaculture, fish inspection and certification to meet market requirements, recirculated aquaculture technologies and other topics. The speakers were from the FAO, Eurofish, the Ministry of Rural Development of Montenegro and the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Water Administration of Albania.  

Ten delegates from Albania representing the rainbow trout farming and processing sector and the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Water Administration attended the workshop in Montenegro. This followed the attendance by the Montenegrin delegation of the previous workshop on bivalve safety management held in the south of Albania in June. The rainbow trout centers in Albania are developed in the south-eastern part of the country, which is highland. The activity is becoming a source of nutrition for the local population and also ensures a good income for the cultivators. The mild climate and the variety of water sources as well as the relative prosperity of the inhabitants of this part of Albania make possible provisions for investments and joint projects in that field. The trout production in Albania was 2,910 tonnes in 2010.

In total, the workshop gathered around 40 participants. Despite the language barriers, the participants expressed their appreciation of the exchange of knowledge, sharing problems and new ideas for future developments. As pointed out by Huseyn Mane, the industry representative from Albania, the workshop was not only an informative platform for updates in trade, legislation and certification, but also an ambassadorial mission for Albania and Montenegro that showed the personal willingness of the participants to cooperate and support each other.

Montenegro-036Workshop concludes with visit to trout farm...
On the third day of the workshop participants visited the trout farm Mareza, and the processing plant Ahileis. Etablished in 1975, Mareza is one of the oldest and largest farms in the country and it is part of one of the largest company in Montenegro, 13. Jul Plantaže involved in wine and grape brandy manufacturing. The farm has 14 raceways, where trout is farmed. The company has its own hatchery with broodstock (4,000 females) producing  eggs, fingerlings (6-7 million/year), and grows fish for consumption (250 g average weight). The fish feed (around 100 tonnes/year) is bought from Skretting, Italy. With the fish ponds covering 6,000 sq. m, “Mareza” produces and sells 100 tonnes of Californian trout per year. Trout is distributed on the local market through supermarkets, the company’s own retail shops (30 stores), one open market, hotels and restaurants. The company has a restaurant Mareza in the vicinity of the farm that caters to tourists.

...and processing factory owned by former international basketball player
Montenegro-063Ahileis factory, which specializes in smoking various fish species, was founded by Mr. Ljubo Vujacic, a former basketball star in Montenegro and abroad. After living many years abroad, he returned to his home town Golubovci located 15 km from Podgorica. When Ljubo considered construction of a processing factory, he chose a fish smoking business since many local businessmen and producers dealt with meat and ham products. Today, the factory produces various fish species such as Norwegian salmon, sardines and mackerel from Italy and Spain, local and imported carp, rainbow trout and other species. The annual production capacity is 200-300 tonnes produced in 2 shifts. Currently, the sales are for the local market, but the objective of the company is to explore export possibilities. As the first step in this direction, the factory implemented a HACCP system. This includes the analysis of food hazards, the identification of critical control points, the establishment of critical control limits and preventive measures, the establishment of correction and corrective action, the keeping of records and the systematic and regular audit of the system by independent certification bodies.