Latvia_mapCapital: Riga
Population: 1.99 million (2015 est. World Factbook)
GDP: € 29 billion (2014 est. World Factbook)
GDP/capita: € 14,042 (2014 est. World Factbook)

Fish production: (Latvian Ministry of Agriculture)
(Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Riga): 56,630 tonnes (2014)
  Capture: (High seas –  NEAFC): 59,400 tonnes (2014)
  Aquaculture: 680 tonnes (2014)
  Export value: EUR 183m (2014)
  Import value: EUR 153,4m (2014)

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

Fishing sector
Fishing activities in the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Riga depend mainly on the state of stocks, which is simultaneously affected by fishing activities in the Baltic Sea, fish feeding conditions, water temperature, water pollution levels and similar factors.

During 2013 total catches in the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Riga amounted to 60,997 tonnes (main species were cod, Baltic herring, and sprat), which is an increase of almost 525 tonnes compared to 2012.

In 2013, catches in the Baltic Sea offshore fisheries constituted 57.3 thousand tonnes or 49.5% of the total Latvian catches. The main quota species targeted are cod, herring and sprat. Non-quota species that are targeted in the Baltic Sea include turbot, flounder and smelt.

In the beginning of 2014 Latvia’s fishing fleet consisted of more than 700 fishing vessels. These vessels are divided into various segments. About 630 vessels were fishing in the coastal waters of the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Riga. The number of vessels in the Baltic Sea offshore fisheries has decreased over the last few years because of the decommissioning programme. In 2014 this segment consisted of 68 vessels.

In 2013 seven vessels were fishing on the high-seas. Total catches amounted to 54,758 tonnes of fish and shrimps. The high seas fisheries takes place in the Central Atlantic region (CECAF) in Mauritanian (EEZ) waters. A relatively small portion of the catch is made from fishing activities in the North Atlantic in the NAFO and NEAFC convention areas, where Latvia has fishing quotas for shrimp, redfish and mackerel. All the fish frozen on board the vessels fishing in Morocco, Mauritania and the North Atlantic is sold in countries located close to the main fishing areas. The overall catch composition and the available fishing opportunities in the Latvian high-seas fisheries is changing more than in the Baltic Sea fisheries. Atlantic horse mackerel has always been the dominant species in the high-seas fisheries, followed by European pilchard and sardinella.

Inland fishing catches have been decreasing over the last years. In 2013, they amounted to 313 tonnes. Around 20 fish species are caught in inland waters, of which river lamprey (Lampetra fluviatilis), bream (Abramis brama), tench (Tinca tinca) and pike (Esox lucius) are the most common. Angling is a strong competitor to inland fisheries and is an activity mostly linked with the development of ecotourism in Latvia.

Aquaculture is a significant part of the fisheries industry, but is comparatively new and, until now, uses mostly extensive production methods. Most farms are located in the interior of the country rather than along the coast, and there is no aquaculture activity in marine waters.

About 160 aquaculture farms were registered by the Food and Veterinary Service in May 2014. Five of them are state farms, whose main activity is fish reproduction in natural water bodies, the rest are private farms including fish ponds for angling. Aquaculture establishments are sited in areas which are not necessarily directly related to the availability of freshwater, but reflect rather the traditions and socio-economic interests of landowners. The main species produced are carp, trout, goldfish, pike, catfish, sturgeon, etc.

From 2004 to 2012 average annual aquaculture production was around 580 t. In 2012, 573.5 tonnes of fish were produced for human consumption, of which common carp (Cyprinus carpio) accounted for more than 80% – 474.5 tonnes.

Production of fish fry, fingerlings and smolts for release in natural water-bodies is a significant activity to compensate for the damage to fish resources caused by the development of hydropower plants on rivers, pollution of water and the degradation of natural habitats, among others.

Fish processing

The fish processing industry in Latvia is a well-developed and locally significant sector located along Latvia’s coastline. It is one of the largest food production sectors in Latvia and employs the highest number of employees - 5871 persons in 2013. During the last years changes in the number of processing companies have not been significant. In 2013, there were 101 companies. Historically Latvian fish processing companies have produced both for the domestic and the export market.

There are different types of fishery products made in Latvia – frozen, fish, salted and smoked fish, unsterilized preserves and ready to serve products, as well as sterilised canned fish. Canned fish producers mainly use raw materials from the Baltic Sea. However, to extend the range of products, fish processors also use marine fish such as Atlantic herring, mackerel, sardine and sardinella. Freshwater fish species (pike, catfish, common carp and others) are used in small quantities. In 2012, processed fish volumes (including fish products and canned fish) reached 110,3 thousand tonnes. In general the sector has been growing since 2000.

The fisheries sector is an exporting sector of the economy and maintains a positive external trade balance. The export of fish products has consistently exceeded imports for a couple of decades now. The external trade balance for fisheries products in 2013 was nearly EUR59 million. In 2013 fish products and canned fish were exported to 54 countries. The total value of fish products, including canned fish was EUR222 million. In 2013 a significant part of export of fish products was to the EU and CIS countries. Among the CIS countries for many years the main destinations were Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.

Historically Russia and the CIS countries have played a significant role in the export of fishery products, but lately EU countries have become the main destination for these products (excluding canned fish), followed by the CIS countries. In 2012 the volume of fish products exported to the EU declined slightly, but still exceeded 60% of total fish products (excl. canned fish) export volume. In 2012, the main destination in the EU were Estonia, Lithuania and Poland with 22.6%, 19.6% and 7.2% of total fish products (excl. canned fish) export volume, respectively.

Export volumes to the CIS and other third countries declined in 2012 forming 25.3% and 13.2% of the total fish products (excl. canned fish) export volume. Among CIS countries Ukraine, Belarus and Russia were the main recipients of Latvian fish products (excl. canned fish). A decline can be observed in exports to many CIS countries.

In 2012, Latvia imported fish products and canned fish from 40 countries, in order to supply the fish processing sector with the necessary quantity of raw materials, as well as to expand the assortment of fish products and canned fish on the domestic market. Last year in comparison with 2012 the imports of fish products (except canned fish) increased by 14% reaching 61 thousand tonnes. In value terms imported fish products increased by 7.6% amounting to more than EUR142 million. In 2013, the leading suppliers of fish to Latvia were still Lithuania, Sweden, Norway, Poland, Estonia and Morocco.

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