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A boat ride to the sustainable fish-farm with the best sea bass

 

An unforgettable day at the Fonda fish farm

Discover the northernmost fish farm in the Adriatic Sea, located in the Sečovlje Salina Nature Park, in the company of experts who want to breed the best saltwater fish in the world. Enjoy the taste of the Fonda sea bass from Piran, prepared with salt flower and Istrian olive oil. Celebrate a sunny day with a glass of Istrian Malvasia!

organic fish farm
Photo: Jaka Jeraša

A family of biologists who decided to breed the best fish in the world

Your guide will meet you on the Seča peninsula, the last one before the Croatian border, at the fish farming headquarters of the boutique Fonda fish farm. The story of the Fonda fish farm began with Ugo Fonda, who dedicated his life to exploration of the sea. His children, Lean and Irena, share his unconditional love for the sea, the salt pans, and nature. While telling you all about their company and their brand, they will also prepare a veritable welcome feast. A tasting of their sea bass. The Fonda sea bass. This is the only farmed saltwater fish that is listed on restaurant menus with a full name marking its origin.

This feast for your taste buds begins with sea bass carpaccio made from raw Fonda sea bass from Piran, with salt flower from the Piran salt pans and with homemade olive oil. This is followed by smoked sea bass, a tasting of several premium local olive oils, which the Istria region is famous for, and canapés with local seasonal vegetables. Slovenian Istria is also known for its excellent wine, which will naturally feature in your first gastronomical experience of the day. The queen of local white wines, which are usually paired with sea food, is the native local wine-grape variety called Istrian Malvasia. According to written records, it has been growing in this area since the 13th century. And genetic analysis has shown that it has nothing in common with other Malvasia varieties. The Istrian Malvasia has a unique temperamental and fresh character, with just a hint of bitter aroma.

fish farm tour
Photo: Arne Hodalič

Powered by the sun or by you?

The sea fish and mussels at the Fonda fish farm are raised organically, as confirmed by their BIO certificate, and the farm brings the same environmentally friendly mindset to tourism. They like to invite their visitors to paddle at the fish farm, which lies a couple of kilometres from the shore, by kayak, canoe, sit-on-top, or SUP. Those who do not see themselves choosing these options can board the sun-powered “INTI” Greenline hybrid boat, an innovative boat developed by the Slovenian company Seaway specifically for the Fonda fish farm. During the 15-minute ride to the only Slovenian marine fish farm, the guide will tell you more about the Sečovlje Salina Nature Park and the Portorož fishing preserve in the southernmost part of the Slovenian sea, where the Fonda fish farm is located.

Photo: Jaka Jeraša

Sea wolf

The seawater here is very clean, thanks to the strong current which constantly brings fresh water to this part of the Slovenian sea. There is also an abundance of wild fish, from stone loaches to all kinds of commercially interesting species, such as brown meagres, scorpionfish, European conger, pompano, tuna, annular sea bream, common two-banded sea bream, gilt-head sea bream, sea bass, common dentex, and mullet. Dolphins, octopuses, and turtles also come to visit … and even a whale came by once.

The sea bass, also called the “sea wolf” in Slovenian, is a predator in the wild, and has almost no natural enemies when it reaches its adult phase. The only enemies of farmed sea bass are birds, especially seagulls and herons, which is why the Fonda pools are covered with nets. Wild sea bass needs fifteen to twenty years to reach two kilograms, and four to five years to reach a portion size of around 350 grams. Non-organic fish farms cut this time in half.

Piran sea bass
Photo: Borut Furlan

Cleaning the nets and feeding the fish by hand

The sea under the nets of most fish farms is completely dead, but under an organic fish farm, the sea is full of life, since they do not use any chemicals, and all the cleaning and other chores are done manually. This is why the nets, ropes, and chains are covered in algae, mussels, and other sea creatures, and why several wild fish shelter around the fish farm.

Daily feeding is also done manually. Guided tours are usually timed to coincide with the feeding time, allowing visitors to witness this experience. The fish require a very specific feeding protocol, which depends on the time, sea temperature, weather, and even the fish behaviour.

mending nets by hand
Photo: Borut Furlan

End the day in style

The ride back will also take you past the growing area of mussels, and back onto dry land, where in the shade of pine trees, a true boutique gastronomical experience with only the best organic products of Istria will be waiting for you. While the food is served, you will learn about all the partners – friends – that made this gastronomical delight possible. You can expect some more of the excellent raw and smoked sea bass with the salt flower from the nearby Piran salt pans, and a range of different organic olive oils. There will be a spread made from smoked sea bass or smoked gilt-head sea bream. There will be something for everyone, including vegetarians and vegans, who will love the bruschetta with fresh Istrian vegetables. There will be Istrian Malvasia grape juice for children, and local Istrian Malvasia wine for adults to raise in toast to this amazing experience.

We invite you to learn the unique story about the best farmed fish in the world, and about the family that wrote that story with their love for the sea, salt pans, and nature in general. Enjoy the delicious taste of the sea bass, and discover other premium gastronomical products of Istria.

Taste more.

Learn about the story od Slovenian gastronomy. Discover local culinary and wine specialties.

Read more