Overview of the Estonian fisheries and aquaculture sector
The Baltic Sea fishery is subdivided into the open sea fishery using trawlers, and the coastal fishery. There are about 50 vessels in the Baltic Sea fishery which employ some 500 fishers. Fishing quotas in the coastal fishery are about one third of the total Baltic Sea quotas and the gear commonly used is passive, comprising different kinds of trap and gill nets. The bulk of the catches comprises sprat and herring, but small amounts of cod, smelt and flounder are caught as well. Sprat and herring are landed mainly at Estonian ports where the catch is sold to fish freezing or processing companies.
There are about 600 vessels in the coastal fishing fleet and the sector provides employment to some 2,500 fishers, however fishing is only a part-time occupation for most of them. The total catch in the Baltic Sea in 2013 was 55,560 tonnes with sprat followed by herring making up most of the volume. The freshwater fishery amounted to 2,850 tonnes in 2013 and is essentially from two sites, the Lakes Peipsi and Vortsjärv. Bream, pike and pike perch are the most important species in volume terms, while eel is the most valuable. About 420 fishers are employed in the inland fishery sector, most of them part time. The vessels used are less than 12 m in length and number about 300. The gear used in for lake fishing is mostly passive, such as fyke nets and gill nets, but Danish seines are also used in the summer months.
There are about 52 companies in Estonia whose main business comprises the processing and canning of fish, crustaceans and molluscs. Average sales revenue of the companies exceeds EUR 100 million and most of them operate in Harju and Pärnu Counties.
A typical feature of the Estonian fish processing industry is a steady increase in the importance of larger, horizontally and vertically integrated companies, with direct ownership of all production activities from fishing to fish processing and exporting, accompanied by the emergence of long-term contractual supplier-customer relationships between producing companies and processors or supermarket chains. Vertical integration is very common in the Baltic Sea trawl fisheries (sprat and Baltic herring) and in the Lake Peipsi fisheries (perch and pikeperch) in the sense that processing or fishing companies own the quotas, hire external fishers, process raw material and manage trade relations, including export. These vertically integrated companies export almost 100 % of their production. In the Baltic Sea fisheries the vertically integrated companies are organised in producer organisations.
Export amounts to about 75% of total sales value and Russia is the most important overseas market in terms of volume. Other important markets are Finland, Sweden, Germany, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. The most important export in terms of value are frozen northern prawn, frozen small pelagics, and frozen, fresh and chilled fish fillets. Preserved small pelagics, smoked fish, salmon and trout are also significant export commodities. The main import are fresh and chilled salmon and trout.
In 2013, Estonia exported fish and shellfish to more than 60 countries worth EUR 195.6 million. During the same period, Estonia imported fish and aquatic vertebrates from more than 50 countries, for a value of EUR 165.9 million.
Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), common carp (Cyprinus carpio) and European eel (Anguilla anguilla) are the three major cultured species. The proportion of reared freshwater crayfish (Astacus astacus) and Siberian sturgeon (Acipenser baerii) is increasing. For trout farmers an important additional by-product is trout roe which is salted and sold as red caviar. Practically all the trout is sold in the domestic market. All the market size eel is exported.
There are around 20 commercial companies whose main or important activity is fish farming; most of them have a multiple profile of production, rearing simultaneously several species, producing at the same time fish for consumption, offering fishing tourism in put-and-take ponds and producing juveniles for the state restocking programme. There are over 50 put-and-take fishing ponds. Ornamental fish (koi carps) are gaining popularity, but the trade in these fish is still negligible. The sector employs about 100 people.
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Provided by the Fisheries Information Center. http://www.kalateave.ee
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