our organic status, says Dr Stan, instead we have to find other solutions which may take longer to work and be more expensive. The idea initially had been to sell both on the Romanian market and abroad, but the financial and economic crisis put paid to plans to export the fish. We are waiting for the economic situation to improve and for new buyers to come on the market, but until then we are selling at the same price as the regular producers. The ﬁsh is harvested using several boats that surround the ﬁsh with a net which is then drawn close.
extract of the pituitary gland of the common carp. The eggs and milt are removed by stripping and mixed together. The fertilised eggs are allowed to hatch and the larvae kept in the hatchery for 4-5 days before moving them to rearing ponds, when they begin to feed actively. According to Dr Stan on an organic farm it is not permissible to have species that are propagated artificially so he is gradually reducing his stock of Chinese carps. If he can source larvae that have been produced in a manner acceptable to the organic standard he will introduce them into his pond, otherwise he will restrict his production to common carp. Currently, annual production of common carp is about 600 tonnes, while sales amount to about 400 tonnes from a pond with an area of 1,200 ha. The production of other species, which is gradually being wound down, is about 60 tonnes. Complex Grup has is the first carp farm in Romania to be certified to the EU’s organic standard, a fact that was central to Dr Stan's decision to seek the certification in the first place. I wanted to do something different, he says, and to pioneer 50
Eurofish Magazine 3 / 2013
organic carp farming in Romania also fitted with my personal convictions. To actually carry out the changes, he explains, the certifying body, CertRom, provided instructions on how to convert the farm so that it complied with the regulations and each year it conducts an audit to make sure that the farm continues to comply with the requirements.
Market reluctant to pay more for organic ﬁsh Gheorghe Stan has discovered that since switching to the organic production the fish has become tastier. But a better tasting, sustainable product that benefits the environment is apparently for most Romanian consumers not reason enough to justify a higher price. This is an issue that remains to be solved. Although production per hectare is lower, what with lower density stocking and predation, which means higher costs, the market will not accept a higher price for the fish. Even treatment for diseases is a more expensive process as we cannot administer chemicals or antibiotics which are relatively cheap and effective, but would threaten
When orders for the fish come in it is harvested and transported to the warehouse where it is stored in barrels with water and ice till the temperature of the fish comes down to 4 degrees. The way the fish are harvested depends on the size of the order. For big orders nine boats will disperse a big net into the water and surround the fish. The net will then be drawn close trapping the fish, which can then be harvested. The fish is then placed on ice in tubs and the client comes to collect it. All the fish is sold slaughtered as the logistics of selling live fish are more complex and neither the company nor its customers have the infrastructure to deal with live fish. Most of the clients are local, but there are also those from retail chains like Carrefour in Constanta which is about 150 km away. At retail outlets, even big ones like Carrefour, the fish is not identified as organic. This is partly because the price
is the same as the regular fish but also because of the general perception that organic fish is more expensive than conventional fish and may scare customers away. The idea of organic needs to take a firmer hold on the Romanian consumer, says Dr Stan, before we can start charging a premium. In the meanwhile the company has used European funding to create an even more environmentallysustainable farm. Some of the land has been used to build a sanctuary for birds and animals that is off-limits for humans and to plant trees and create structures that will encourage birds and small animals to move into the sanctuary. These investments do not make commercial sense, but Dr Stan says that the farm is a place the family comes to often and some of the developments are to make it a more pleasant place to stay.
Organic market development hit by crisis For Gheorghe Stan organic cultivation is a philosophy that he has bought into. Another of his activities is the cultivation of cereals which he is doing organically in those areas where he can afford to fulfil the technical requirements. We had counted on faster growth in the market for organic products, which would have helped sales of our fish, but the crisis upset those plans and now we have to adapt.
Complex Grup Company Fact File Aleea Cauzasi, nr. 59, corp A Sector 3, Bucharest Romania Managing director: Dr Gheorghe Stan Products: Certiﬁed organic
common carp Markets: Romanian restaurants and retail chains Volumes: 600 tonnes per year Facilities: Grow-out pond, 1,200 ha; 24 hatchery ponds
This issue covers Romania and reviews the ESE in Brussels. The Aquaculture section looks at new candidate species.