In Greece, fish farms a testing ground for economy
Greek fish farmer John Stephanis has a problem. Global demand for his sea bass and bream is strong. But his company Selonda Aquaculture SA is so strapped for cash that it cannot expand its farms. One solution, says Stephanis, is smaller fish.
By growing slimmer fish — to about 370 grams from the current average of 400 — Stephanis can grow more of them in each of his 50 farms. And by keeping prices unchanged, he can start paring his losses.
"We've managed to put our fish on shelves around the world," said Stephanis, a former advertising executive who founded Selonda in 1981. "Ours is a national industry."
Leaner fish is just one way in which Selonda, like other Greece aquaculture firms, is trying to resurrect itself from a fall in fortune that has mirrored that of the broader Greek economy. Once the "El Dorado" of the country's industry — Greece farms about half the global output of sea bass and bream — aquaculture companies are now unraveling under the weight of cheap credit they piled on during two decades of booming growth in the 80s and 90s.