Performance of investigative monitoring program for assessment of pressure and impact of fish farming activities on surface water bodies and actualization of program of measures in the RBMP of East Aegean River Basin District (FISHFARMING)

Project facts

Project promoter:
East Aegean river basin directorate with center Plovdiv
Project Number:
Target groups
Civil servants/Public administration staff
Initial project cost:
Final project cost:
From EEA Grants:
€ 233,971
The project is carried out in:


The aquaculture activities are well presented in the EARBD and cause significant problems related to the water body status. The proposed investigative monitoring will contribute to the better understanding of the pressure and impacts caused by the different kind of freshwater fish farming. The project aims to improve the methodologies for assessment of ecological status/potential and to implement measures for effective management in fish farms in order to reduce the pollution and achieve a good status of surface water bodies. The planned activities are focused on improvement of 1) monitoring methodologies in water bodies with different aquaculture activities; 2) RBMP program of measures in order to reduce the negative impact of fish farming; 4) personnel expertise by common work with donor country experts; 5) technical capacity for water monitoring by delivering modern equipment and; 6) raising the awareness providing relevant information to stakeholders.

Summary of project results

Freshwater fish farming provides a significant part of the fishery resources in Bulgaria. Breeding of fish and the use of fodders rich in proteins and fats discharge of amounts of waste into the aquatic environment, leads to eutrophication of the water bodies. Quite often fish-farming takes place in water sites polluted by agriculture, urbanized areas and industry. The combined pressure intensifies the impact, while assessment of the role of fish-farming was difficult by the lack of precise methodologies for assessment. The project objective was to improve the assessment of the pressure and impact on water bodies involved in fresh water fish-farming and to restrict the negative effect by improving the monitoring and prognostication of their status The following results were achieved regarding management of water bodies engaged in aquaculture: Improvement of the program for monitoring. New equipment for sampling and analyses was delivered 6 methods for stricter assessment of the pressure from fish-farming were introduced A method for assessment of the capacity of reservoirs for fish production in cages was elaborated and tested An approach for assessment of the eutrophication in reservoirs, including suggestions for revising the system for assessment of ecological potential of reservoirs in connection with the pressure and impact of abstraction of water for irrigation purposes and power generation 3 technological schemes for semi-intensive fish-farming were adapted which restrict the eutrophication process in water bodies of good, moderate and poor ecological potential 19 new measures were included in the programme of measures in the second RBMP of EARBD (2016 – 2021) Campaign for consultations on the project results with representatives of the main target groups the proprietors of fish farms The investigation performed proved that fish-farming possesses a high potential for environmentally sustainable production Direct beneficiary of the project results is the administration at the Ministry of Environment and Water, responsible for the issuance of permits. The introduced methodologies substantially improve the assessment of pressure and impact on water bodies and identification of the capacity of water bodies for freshwater fish-farming. The suggested regulatory amendments will replaced the administrative bans applied so far by stricter regulation of the activities through implementation of precise assessment. Semi-intensive fish-farming will improve the water quality and preserve the economic functions of reservoirs

Summary of bilateral results

The joint workshops conducted for presentation of the best practices in the field of fish-farming and water monitoring in Norway and Bulgaria was a demonstration of the strengthened bilateral relations between the Norwegian and the Bulgarian project partners. The expert opinion elaborated jointly by experts of the Norwegian partner IRIS and the Plovdiv Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture concerning the capacity of Kardzhali reservoir for breeding fish in cages is a direct result from the bilateral exchange and application of innovative methodologies in the field of aquaculture. The pilot survey using an echo sounder for determination of the current water storage of the Kardzhali reservoir as an additional activity under the project is a consequence of the exchange of innovative water monitoring practices. The exchanged information about the legislation in effect in Norway concerning issueance of permits for aquaculture provided a possibility for proposing regulatory amendments which would improve the procedures for issuance of permits stipulated by the Bulgarian legislation. As a result of the strengthening of the bilateral relations in the course of implementation of the project further continuation of the collaboration between the partners from Bulgaria and Norway was planned within the framework of new joint projects for application of innovative fish-farming practices aimed at improving the status of water bodies.