Italy_mapCapital: Rome
Population: 60.8 million (2014 est.)
GDP: € 1.61 trillion (2014 est.)
GDP/capita: € 26,500 (2014 est.)

Fish production:
Capture: 177,000 tonnes (2014, EUROSTAT)
   Aquaculture: 141,000 tonnes (2013, EUROSTAT)
   Export value: € 509 million (2014, EUROSTAT)
   Import value: € 4.6 billion (2014, EUROSTAT)

Overview of the Italian fisheries and aquaculture sector (Currently under review)

Fishing sector
Fishing in Italy takes place along the entire coastline. In 2012, national catches accounted for 197,839 tonnes for a value of EUR 936 million. The size of the Italian fleet has decreased steadily between 2004 and 2012 to 12,934 (-13%) fishing vessels. The fleet is highly diversified with a broad range of vessel types targeting different species predominantly in the Mediterranean Sea. The largest segment within the fleet is represented by small-scale fishing (8,763 vessels), followed by trawlers (2,542 vessels), hydraulic dredges (706), passive polyvalent gears (451), purse seiners (240) and other types. The regions Sicily (23.1%), Puglia (12.3%) and Sardinia (10%) have the highest share of the fleet.

In terms of landing composition, European anchovy, is the most common species landed in terms of volume (42,800 tonnes), followed by striped venus (20,028 tonnes) and European pilchard (19,947 tonnes). In terms of value, European anchovy (EUR 75.6 million) and European hake (EUR 74.35 million) account for the highest value, followed by crustaceans, European anchovy and deep water rose shrimp.

Processing and trade
The canning sector is the main segment of the Italian fish processing industry. The main products are canned and preserved tunas (for which industry is heavily dependent on imports) although there are also a significant number of companies that process anchovies, sardines and shellfish. Some Italian canned tuna brands have been acquired by foreign companies, especially Spanish.

Italy is a net importer of fish and seafood. In 2012, the export of fish and seafood products from Italy amounted to 117,232 tonnes with a value of EUR 500 million, while the Italian imports of fish and seafood products reached 903,038 tonnes valued EUR 4.2 billion.

Nearly half of the export volume is represented by live or fresh fish and seafood amounting to 60,675 tonnes, while the other half of value-added fish and seafood products amounted to 56,557 tonnes. In terms of value, the share of exported live or fresh fish and seafood was 36% (EUR 182 million), while the share of value-added products made up 64% (EUR 318 million). Exports of live or fresh fish and seafood, comprised mainly blue mussels, anchovies, sardines and trout. In the group of value-added products, prepared or canned tuna was the dominant product, followed by frozen sardines, anchovy’s fillets in oil, salted anchovies and frozen shrimps. Approximately 80% of Italian exports of fish and seafood products is directed to EU countries where Spain is the principle market, followed by Germany, France and Greece. Among non-EU countries, Tunisia, Switzerland and Albania are the largest destinations for Italian exports of fish and seafood products.

In 2012, imports of fish and seafood into Italy was 8 times higher than exports. The major part of Italian imports is represented by value added fish and seafood products (703,487 tonnes with a value of EUR 3,291 million), followed by live and fresh fish and seafood (199,551 tonnes valued EUR 916 million).

Imported value added fish and seafood were mainly prepared/canned tuna, frozen squid, octopus and tuna steaks. Of the imported live and fresh fish and seafood, blue mussels, salmon, seabream, seabass, squid, shrimps, oysters and swordfish were the main species. About half the Italian imports of fish and seafood (54%) were supplied by EU countries of which Spain is by far the largest supplier of fish and seafood to the Italian market, followed by the Netherlands, Greece and France. Among non-EU countries, Vietnam, Thailand, Ecuador, Morocco and China are the most important supplying countries.

Aquaculture in Italy is characterised of the high level of specialization and large scale production. Traditional extensive aquaculture is still carried out in the “valli” which are brackish lagoons, especially in the north-eastern regions. More modern aquaculture techniques for marine species include onshore intensive farms, cage systems in the sea (mariculture) and, in the case of shellfish, cultivation on ropes and bags (mussels), or directly on the intertidal substrate (clams). Aquaculture is developed along all Italian coasts, but with higher density along the Adriatic coasts.

In 2012, the total output of the Italian aquaculture sector amounted to 194,800 tonnes with a value of EUR 524 million. The national aquaculture sector is represented by shellfish (65% or 126,000 tonnes) and finfish farming (35% or 68,800 tonnes). Compared to 2011, the total volume of the national aquaculture production went down by 4.4%. The decline has mainly been attributed to the fall in shellfish production, while the finfish production has been stable since 2002.

In the shellfish sector, blue mussels (96,000 tonnes) and cross-cut carpet shell (vongole veraci, 30,000 tonnes) are the main species. Finfish farming is divided into freshwater fish species and marine species. The output of freshwater farmed fish amounts to 40,700 tonnes, of which rainbow trout (37,800 tonnes) has the major share, followed by sturgeon (1,700 tonnes) and European eel (1,200 tonnes).   Production of the marine farmed fish amounts to 28,100 tonnes, where seabream (9,400 tonnes) and seabass (7,900 tonnes) are the main farmed species.  

The Italian aquaculture sector is represented by small size enterprises, dominated by family run business with no more than 5-10 employees. The ‘legal status’ firms in the shellfish segment are mostly co-operative organisations, where every worker is also a member of the organization. The total number of employees in the fisheries and aquaculture sector was 58,100 persons (2011).

All data from ISMEA (

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