Department for Aquaculture, University of Dubrovnik, 20000 Dubrovnik, Croatia
Institute of Marine Biology, Kotor, Montenegro
University of Split, Split, Croatia
Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries, Split, Croatia
Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Anavyssos, Greece
Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration, Acharnes, Greece
The recent increase of the local population of gilthead seabream, Sparus aurata, in three areas along the southeastern Adriatic Sea: Malostonski Bay (Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina), Neretva Estuary (Croatia) and Boka Kotorska Bay (Montenegro) and its adverse effects on shellfish culture by preying on Mediterranean mussels, Mytilus galloprovincialis, and the European flat oyster, Ostrea edulis, are studied. The results from the analysis of the existing information show that the main reason for the recent increase is the escapes from local fish farm which enrich the local population constantly with new gilthead sea bream. The existence of practically endless food in the area of the shellfish farms allows the concentration of the population in the region instead of its dispersion along the Adriatic coast. Moreover, ecological analysis indicates that the gilthead seabream is facing a very low competition from other local species which enhances its capacity to further populate the region. While the impact on the ecosystem is not yet known, the socio-economic impact of the increase of the gilthead seabream population is evident today. Many shellfish farms are closing today in the region since the damages may reach over 90 % of the production.