Overview of the Lithuanian fisheries and aquaculture sector
Lithuania has relatively short coastline of 90 km. Its territorial waters and exclusive economic zone in the Baltic Sea amount to 7,000 sq. km, but Lithuania has significant inland waters covering 2,621 sq. km or 4% of the country’s territory. This includes a number of important rivers such as the Nemunas (475 km) and the Neris and several lakes and artificial water-bodies.
The total value of the fisheries sector is less than 1% of the country’s GDP. However, fisheries have a long tradition and play an important role in small communities in coastal areas. Lithuanian fisheries sector provides employment to about six thousand people in coastal regions, smaller towns and rural areas, where there is a lack of alternate employment opportunities. About 70% of the employees are women, who are traditionally occupied in the fish processing industry.
Eight fishing vessels are operating off the West Africa coast (exclusive economic zones of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, the Kingdom of Morocco, Guinea and Senegal). The Lithuanian high-seas fleet fishes in NAFO, NEAFC and SPRFMO regulated waters. The main commercial species in the high-seas fisheries are mackerel, sardinella and redfish, as well as shrimp caught in the Svalbard area.
Inland fisheries account for about 2% of Lithuania’s total catches, the Curonian Lagoon being the most significant inland fishing area.
In 2012, 4,500 tonnes of fish were farmed with a value around EUR 7.6 million. Organically farmed fish constituted 33% of this volume. Common and bighead carp amount to about 95% of the total production, but also pike, tench, sturgeon and other species are cultivated. About 60% of the farmed fish is sold on the domestic market and the remainder exported to Ireland, Latvia, Sweden and Estonia.
The main species used for processing are herring, cod and salmon. These are made into a variety of products including frozen, dried, smoked and canned fish. A wide selection of surimi and culinary products is also produced by the processing sector. In 2012, 82 thousand tonnes were produced in total, of which 29% were surimi products, 17% fish fillets and 20% smoked fish.
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