ECONOMY

Sea farm cooperative is a big success story

Four and a half nautical miles out of the harbor of the village of Makrys Yialos, itself located on the road which connects the northern Greek city of Katerini with Thessaloniki, there is a large sea farm, the biggest in the country, where shellfish are harvested. Located in an area 155 hectares wide, the sea farm with its crop of mussels has in recent years become one of the most profitable businesses in the fishing industry. There are 100 producers working in the sea farm, which employs 500 permanent workers and 1,000 to 1,200 seasonal workers. The mussel-farming business generates minimum annual revenues of 2.34 million euros – and as much as 3 million euros – while also providing work for a quarter of Makrys Yialos’s population of 2,000. The sea farm produces, on an annual basis, 6,000 to 10,000 tons of mussels, depending on the weather. Eighty percent of these are exported to Spain, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. The key to the success of this local industry is the cooperative model utilized by the village of Makrys Yialos. The cooperative has taken advantage of funding from the fishing program, which can reach as high as 45 percent, to modernize its units and vessels. The story began in 1987 when an immigrant from South America named Filios returned to Greece with the idea of setting up a mussel farm. He was lucky in that there are good engineers and fishermen in the area. From there the mussel farm prospered, becoming the most competitive business in the industry abroad. The region is also famous for its kiwi fruit production, which took off eight years ago and has since then become very profitable. Your are also very concerned with children’s issues and education.