Population: 2.88 million
GDP: €25 billion (2015, Eurostat)
GDP/capita: €3,600 (2015, Eurostat)
Overview of the Albanian fisheries and aquaculture sector
Marine fisheries sector
Albania is a country rich in water resources, with a coastline of 362 km. Albania has six islands in the Mediterranean, all very small and uninhabited. The fisheries sector in Albania is relatively small, but it is important from a socio-economic point of view as it is a significant source of jobs in coastal and remote areas.
The fisheries sector is still in transition despite significant development and processing capacities inherited from the past.
Marine fisheries are divided into professional industrial fisheries and professional artisanal fisheries. Differentiation between industrial and artisanal fisheries is based on the type of fishing gear used by license holders. All forms of trawling and purse seining, regardless of the technical characteristics of the nets that are used, are regarded as commercial fishing activities. Commercial fishery also entails all fishing activities for economic purposes. This type of fishing activity represents the most significant activity from the economic aspect.
Artisanal fishery covers all forms of fishing activities by means of fixed and selective gear such as hooks, fixed nets, trammel nets, and gill nets. The fishing fleet includes 551 vessels and is concentrated in the four fishing ports of Saranda, Vlora, Durres, and Shengjin. About 40% of the vessels in the fleet are small polyvalent vessels less than 6 metres long. Vessels above 12 metres represent some 43% of the fleet and are relatively old (more than 35 years). The main gears used are trawls (about 38 % of the total number). The largest port is the port of Durres with 111 vessels. Capture fisheries in 2014 amounted to 5,813 tonnes 35-40% of which are demersal species.
In Albania, there are 247 natural lakes with a total surface area of 1,210 sq. km, and eight main lagoons with a total area of 10,000 ha. About 800 fishers using gillnets, beach nets, and hooks are active in these inland waters. The inland capture fishery produces almost as much fish as the marine fishery. In 2014, the inland catch amounted to 1,770 tonnes, and the main species were turbot, mullet, sea bass, sea bream and eel.
Fishing takes place mainly in five lakes, four of which are large cross border lakes, Shkodra, Ohrid, and the major and minor Prespa lakes. The Shkodra Lake is the largest of the four and the fishery there is managed by the local fishery management organisation (FMO). There are 210 members (subjects) in the FMO, each of which comprises two people and one boat. Members are allotted a certain part of the lake in which they can fish, but they can apply to the FMO to change the area if they wish to move to another part. One of the most valuable species caught in the Shkodra Lake is carp.
During the past decade, Albania’s aquaculture production has expanded, mainly because of an upsurge in marine, brackish water, and freshwater aquaculture production. About ten species are cultivated, of which the main ones are rainbow trout, mussel, and cyprinids. These are grown in water reservoirs, artificial and natural lakes, as well as in coastal lagoons.
Fish farmers use different, intensive, semi-intensive, and extensive cultivation techniques to grow primarily trout, mussels, and carp. In 2014, the total aquaculture production was 2,254 tonnes, 1,500 of which was mussels’ production.
Intensive aquaculture systems have been applied for polyculture of carp species, based on foodstuff preferences of fish species using different water layers for living and feeding. These techniques have been used for trout culture in a few cases as well. Semi-intensive aquaculture systems have been expanded in the Albanian aquaculture sector during the past several decades, while extensive and/or small-scale aquaculture presents diverse varieties in Albania, and are deployed around the country from coastal lagoons (11,000 ha), agriculture reservoirs (27,000 ha surface), artificial lakes (7,000 ha) and natural lakes (25,000 ha).
Marine cage culture activities are concentrated in the Ionian Sea where 26 operators farm gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata) and European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax). Mussels (Mytilus galloprovincialis) cultivation is concentrated in the Butrinti lagoon with some activity also in the open sea at Shengjini Bay (around 100 ha with floating lines) with a yearly production of 1,400 tonnes. Trout farming in raceways is concentrated in the southeast of Albania, where about 60 companies have their facilities. Most of them try to hold down costs by allowing the fish to reproduce naturally. Cultivation of the endemic fish koran (Salmo letnica) is restricted to the area near lake Ohrid. A few hatcheries are involved in the cultivation of common carp (Cyprinus carpio), Chinese carps such as grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idellus), bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis), and silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) for restocking purposes. Carps are farmed in ponds. Aquaculture plays an important role in the Albanian economy. The government supports restocking policy, with carp and salmon family fingerling restocking every year. During the past decade, the national aquaculture sector has been creating a new vision, structure, and technology to meet consumer demand for fish products. This creates benefits for the farmers, increasing fish consumption by the local population and facilitating local employment and economies of scale in rural areas.
While there is no production of organic aquaculture products in the country, it has a good potential to be developed given the favorable conditions of the national farming sector. However, the issues in compliance with international standards and certification of organic products are sources of difficulty for local producers.
Processing and trade
There are 6 fish processing companies in Albania. Four of them produce anchovy, sardine, and other small pelagic species for export, while two are specialized in frozen fish products. The development of the aquaculture sector in the last several years has followed consumer demand from the domestic fish market, especially for marine finfish products. To cover the domestic demand, Albania imports marine aquaculture products, mainly seabass and seabream, from Greece. The total imports of fisheries and aquaculture products amounted to 2,929 tonnes in 2014, a 50% decrease from 2010. Most imports originate from Italy and Spain; 20 % and 29 %, respectively.
Export value of fisheries and aquaculture products in 2014 accounted for €42 million. The main destinations for Albanian exports are Italy (80 % of the total volume) followed by Greece (14 %), and Macedonia (2.5 %). Albania does not export aquaculture products, with an exception of some processed (marinated) molluscs.
Albanian consumers have traditionally preferred meat and poultry products, whereas fish is consumed to a limited extent mostly in the coastal regions of the country. It is estimated that about 30 % of the population in Albania prefers aquaculture products. In general, the prices for inland fish species (carps) are lower than the price for marine fish species. Farmed trout is sold only on the domestic market, while marine fish are mostly exported to the EU market and Balkan countries.
In recent years, the national average household consumption of fish and seafood has fluctuated, reaching 3.56 kg per capita in 2014. Based on calculations of the supply balance and the total apparent consumption of fisheries and aquaculture products, the average annual apparent per capita consumption decreased 8% in 2010–2014.
Useful Links for Albania
- Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Water Management
- Ministry of Environment (Albanian)
- Information on Albania
- Agriculture University of Tirana