Nireus: Using Copper-Alloy Mesh Technology to Advance Sustainable Fish Farming Practices

By Langley Gace

crowding Sea Bream

Crowding sea bream in a copper-alloy net using traditional sweep seine.

Harvesting sea bream

Harvesting sea bream using brailer.

In May of 2013 the ICA and Nireus Aquaculture assembled and installed a copper-alloy mesh pen 7m x 5m in Mediterranean waters off the shore of Palairos, Greece. As harvest-time nears, Nireus continues to chart the growth of Sea Bream in innovative copper-alloy mesh pens.

About Nireus
Founded in 1988, Nireus marks its 25th year in the fish farming industry. It is the largest Greek company specializing in the growth and distribution of Mediterranean Fish. Nireus operates approximately 2,500 cages geographically dispersed throughout the Mediterranean region. The company, located in crystal blue waters and surrounded by mountains, emphasizes its role as an environmentally responsible business, taking action to promote initiatives that contribute to the welfare of society while protecting the Mediterranean’s precious natural resources.

From Land to Sea: The Copper Connection
A partnership with the ICA is a natural extension of Nireus’ goals to deliver quality products using a sound environment approach. After a copper-alloy pen installation in May, results were rapidly realized. Healthy and fast-growth rates of the juvenile Sea Bream in the copper-alloy pen was evident. Six-thousand juvenile fish are growing out in the copper-alloy pen – each initially weighing approximately 200 grams. As harvest time nears, the Sea Bream now weigh 700-900 grams.

The Natural Benefits of Copper
The copper-alloy pen at Nireus demonstrates the many benefits of using copper-alloy mesh for fish farming operations. First, the fish growth rate has been faster. The Sea Bream are healthy – and are larger than the fish raised in nylon nets. The copper-alloy pen has required less maintenance. There has been no damage to the durable copper-alloy mesh so repairs have not been needed. There are no dive requirements to clean the mesh. The juvenile fish growing in the copper-alloy pen require less food. Water samples taken before and during the fish grow-out cycle, shows that copper-alloy has not affected the surrounding water.

A Copper-Alloy Prelude to a Successful Harvest
Based on these trial results, Nireus has asked to use the net to grow a second batch of bream. Nireus will continue monitoring and testing the quality of the fish in the copper-alloy pen.

Our Story with Nireus
We are pleased to have the opportunity to work with the dedicated and professional team at Nireus with the first installation of a copper-alloy pen in Greece. As harvest-time nears, we look forward to working closely with the Nireus team to help monitor results of the first – and second – copper-alloy trial. In the future, the ICA will support Nireus’ ongoing work to advance its sustainable and environmentally-sound fish farming practices, growing clean, healthy and full-size fish that benefits consumers throughout the world.