Population: 19.76 million (2016, Eurostat)
GDP: €323 billion(2015, Eurostat)
GDP/capita €7,200 (2015, Eurostat)
Overview of the Romanian fisheries and aquaculture sector
Marine fisheries sector
Situated in south-east Europe, Romania has a coastline 256 km long, which represents 5.3 % of the total Black Sea coastline and 0.5 % of the total coastline of 23 EU coastal Member States. The total length of inland waters is more than 7,000 km², about 3 % of the total area of the country. Around 900,000 people, or 4.53 % of Romania's total population, live in coastal areas.
The Danube has a total length of 1,074 km in Romania, corresponding to about 3,430 km² and holding an average of about 2.23 million m³ of water. The most important inland fisheries are located here. The areas which are of interest for activities are estimated at 500,000 ha of stagnating waters, 66,000 km of running waters in the mountain, hill, and plain areas, and 25,000 km² marine waters in the Black Sea Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ). The main ports used by fishermen for landing catches are Mangalia, Olimp, Costineşti, Mamaia, and Cape Midia. Fisheries and aquaculture contribute approximately 0,0086 % to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP. Fisheries and aquaculture are of particular importance in remote areas, where they represent the only source of income for some local populations.
Marine fishery takes place exclusively in the Romanian Black Sea national waters. Employing 825 fishermen, the national fishing fleet is almost entirely represented by the small-scale fishery, i.e. vessels less than 12 metres length. Romania had 130 registered vessels in 2016. The fleet targets particularly small pelagic species, such as Black Sea shad and European sprat. In addition, it fishes flatfish (turbot), some shark / dogfish, and, more recently, large sea snail (Thomas’ rapa whelk). The available quantities of European sprat and turbot are subject to the EC TAC (Total Allowable Catches). In 2016, the quota for sprat was 3,442 tonnes while the quota for turbot was 43.2 tonnes. The fishing activity is seasonal and is dependent on the weather conditions in the Black Sea, where there are large differences of temperature between winter and summer, as well as strong winds.
In 2016, marine catches and landings totaled to 6,231 tonnes due to the increased demand for rapana. The main species in volume were Thomas' rapa whelk (Rapana venosa) at 5,917 tonnes, along with European sprat (Sprattus sprattus), Black Sea shad (Alosa maeotica), turbot (Psetta maxima), and Black Sea shad (Alosa maeotica). All fish landed is used for human consumption.
Inland fishing is carried out as a main, full-time occupation, often by traditional fishers. In most cases it is a subsistence activity. Commercial inland fishing takes place in rivers, ponds, and reservoirs, including the Danube River, the Danube Delta, and Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve. In 2016, around 1,600 fishing boats and over 2,500 fishermen were involved in inland fishing, with a total estimated catch of 3,690 tonnes. Major commercial fisheries, including 62 % of the vessels and 45 % of the fishermen, are concentrated on the Danube and its overflow areas, the Delta, and some of its former lagoons.
Catches have remained stable over recent years. Cyprinids are by far the most represented species caught, of which 44.6% are goldfish (Carassius auratus), 9.9% are freshwater bream (Abramis brama), 7.3% are roach (Rutilus rutilus), and 6.6% are common carp (Cyprinus carpio).
Aquaculture is predominantly freshwater, and the country's land resources and availability of inland waters provide excellent conditions for the development of aquaculture. The most important cultured fish species is represented by cyprinids, particularly common carp. Other species are trout, wels, zander and pike. In total, the aquaculture sector produced 11,016 tonnes in 2015. The growth of the national aquaculture production can be attributed to the expanded production of carp in polyculture, in an extensive or semi-intensive way.
There were 635 production centers in the country in 2015. Nearly all the farms were represented by inland establishments producing freshwater fish. There were 501 centers registered with production of carp species, 132 centers with production of trout and other salmon species, 1 turbot farm, 1 mussel farm, and 4 hatcheries for freshwater fish, including 3 hatcheries for cyprinids species and 1 hatchery for salmonids species. The production of organic common carp has also been initiated, with 29 organic aquaculture farms in 2016. The new species production for aquaculture is still low, such as sturgeon species production. Recently extensive fish farms have become multifunctional, providing other services such as ecological tourism, recreational fishing, and educational activities related to the knowledge and protection of aquatic biodiversity. There is a trend to diversify and increase the current aquaculture activities.
Processing and trade
There were 9 registered fish processing companies in 2015 with a total production of 4,150 tonnes. Processing is made for both freshwater and marine species. The native species commonly used for processing include carp, silver carp, bighead carp, bream, catfish, perch, pike, and trout. The most common imported marine species used for processing are salmon, herring, sprat, and mackerel. There is a great variety of value-added products such as salads, smoked fish, and marinades, as well as primary processed fish which are headless, gutted, or portioned.
Imports of fisheries and aquaculture products from the EU countries increased substantially in recent years. In 2014, Poland was the major country-supplier of fisheries and aquaculture products to the Romanian market with a share of 16 % of total imports, followed by the Netherlands (14 %) and Spain (14 %). The total imports of fisheries and aquaculture products reached 92,316 tonnes in 2014, almost equal to the amount in 2010. In terms of value, imports of fisheries and aquaculture products amounted to €185 million, increasing by €44 million over the same period.
Romania exports its fisheries and aquaculture products to a wide range of countries with Bulgaria, Italy, and Greece as the main destinations. In 2014, these countries were responsible for over half of Romanian fisheries and aquaculture product exports. The total exports of fisheries and aquaculture products from Romania remained stable in 2010–2014, amounting to 6,216 tonnes in 2014. In contrast, the export value increased 30 % over the same period to €20 million.
Romanian consumers traditionally prefer meat products, and the consumption of fisheries and aquaculture products is far below the EU average. However, the national average apparent consumption of fisheries and aquaculture products followed an upwards trend in the recent years, reaching 6.3 kg per capita in 2015 (live weight equivalent – kg / capita per year). The great majority of fish and fish products are distributed and sold through supermarket chains. Romanian’s household consumption is dominated by live / fresh fish, followed by frozen fish, and marinated and prepared products. The top four preferred species are trout, carp, mackerel, and salmon.
The main challenges in the commercial fisheries of inland and marine fishing involve investing in the modernization of ports and the fishing fleet, promoting fishery products, implementing an integrated traceability system for monitoring the entire supply chain, and providing compensation and subsidies for unforeseen circumstances. The predation of wild animals and incoherent and unreasonably restrictive legislation constrain development of the aquaculture sector. Other external constraints include climate changes, heavy discrimination of fish producers compared to agricultural farmers, the low impetus of innovation, and the inefficient collaboration among farmers and science practitioners.
Regarding the processing sector, across all regions, there are identified needs related to the efficiency of the production activities, the use of allocated funds, and state intervention measures. Product diversification is very important especially for valuable species to attract new market shares for national and international markets.
Useful Links for Romania
- Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development
- ANPA (National Agency for Fisheries and Aquaculture)
- Managing Authority for Operational Programme for Fisheries (Romanian)
- RomFish - Association of Fish Producers (Romanian)
- Danube Delta National Institute for Research and Development
- Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve Authority
- National Institute for Marine Research and Development
- The Fish Culture Research and Development Station