Tunisian aquaculture company STEP seeks US$7 million funding to bolster growth

TUNISIA – Société Tunisienne d’Elevage de Poissons (STEP), a modern aquaculture firm in Tunisia located at the coastal town of Bekalta, along the Mediterranean Sea is seeking to raise a minimum of US$7 million from an un-named investor to finance its ambitious development programme.

According to reports by, Africa Private Equity News, STEP which was established in 2013 specialises in the breeding of sea bream and sea bass, with an annual production capacity of 2,500 tonnes.

The company’s open-sea fish farm is located 5.5km south-east from Bekalta harbour. The Farm comprises 40 floating cages with breeding nets of 10 meters deep. The structures are robust and can withstand ocean forces.

The fish are graded, sorted and packaged at STEP’s state-of-the-art production plant. In addition, the company has two large warehouses for storage of feed and other items.

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STEP has received GLOBAL GAP, ISO 22000 and Friend of the SEA certifications.

Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries are turning the corner on overexploitation

Undertaking fish farming in a sustainable way, the company can be deemed as one of the contributors to the reduction in the number of stocks subject to overfishing in the Mediterranean and Black Sea for the first time in decades.

“The sustainability of Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries means sustaining jobs, ensuring healthy food and maintaining cultural heritage in our coastal communities for generations to come.”

Islem Ben Ayed – President of the Tunisian Association for the Development of Artisanal Fisheries

According to a new report on the State of Mediterranean and Black Sea Fisheries (SoMFi 2020) released mid-December, published by the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) – a FAO statutory body, it has indicated that 75 percent of fish stocks remain subject to overfishing, this percentage fell by more than 10 percent between 2014 and 2018.  

Exploitation ratios are down by a similar proportion. Taking into account newly assessed stocks, the number of fish stocks with high relative biomass has doubled since the last edition published in 2018.

“Sustainable management does not just benefit the fish stocks”, said Islem Ben Ayed, President of the Tunisian Association for the Development of Artisanal Fisheries.

“The sustainability of Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries means sustaining jobs, ensuring healthy food and maintaining cultural heritage in our coastal communities for generations to come,” he said.

The report further estimates the overall annual economic value of Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries is US$ 9.4 billion, and that the industry provides some 225,000 onboard jobs.

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Turkey, Italy, Greece, Spain, Algeria and Tunisia account for 83% of the total revenue in the region while Turkey, Tunisia, Algeria, Italy, Greece and Egypt account for approximately 82% of total employment.

The report also offered valuable insights into the state of current workforce in fisheries in the region. The sector is rapidly aging: almost half of workers are over 40 and only 17 percent are under 25 – a situation requiring proactive measures in order to ensure that a skilled workforce remains available.

In addition, the report highlights that building the resilience of fisheries will be evermore critical in the face of increasing pressure on the marine environment from climate change and human activities.

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