Table of Contents Next Page


The Republic of Albania, the smallest and least developed country in Eastern Europe, combines a narrow semi-tropical coastal fringe on the Mediterranean with an interior of rugged mountains and remote valleys. Primarily pastoral and agricultural, industrialization has been slow even under its economy, which has been controlled but is now shifting to a market economy.

Albania's contacts with its neighbouring countries have been slight for many years, an information on its fisheries is not well known to either EIFAC or FAO1. At present, one can only say that Albania's inland fishery resources are primarily those of its larger lakes, shared with Greece and former Yugoslavia, and that there is also a fishery potential in its reservoirs and coastal brackish waters.

1 Albania has long been a land of mystery to the rest of Europe. For example, in 1790 its citizens were considered to be strange or even unknown by Lorenzo da Ponte, Mozart's librettist for Così Fan Tutte. K. Hassert's observation of 1898 on Albania still holds: “Das laud is weniger bekannt als weite Gebiete von Africa”. Prophetically, in 1914, Saki wrote: “Affairs [in Albania] are beginning to take a very serious turn.” In short, especially since the country is now in a state of flux, to quote Anon (1989), “We confess to not knowing much about Albania”

1.AREA:28 748 km2
2.POPULATION:3 388 000 (est. 1990) Density: 118 inh/km2

Albania extends along the western lateral of the Balkan Peninsula, between 39° and 43°N, latitudes and 19° and 21°E longitudes, opposite the heel of the Italian boot.

Its greatest N-S extent is 346 km; its greatest E-W extent is 145 km. Its altitudinal range is from sea level to 2 764 m. The average elevation is 708 m, and two-thirds of the country is over 900 m.

Albania, with a frontier of 1 204 km, is bounded by former Yugoslavia on the north and east for 476 km, Greece on the south and southeast for 256 km, and the Mediterranean Ocean (Adriatic and lonian Seas) on the west for 472 km. About 64 km of its former Yugoslavian border follows river courses; and 65 km of this border is within lakes. With respect to its Greek border, about 19 km are along rivers and 7 km within lakes2.

2 These figures derived from (Albania) Dir. des Stat. (1981) differ somewhat from those in the Yugoslavian and Greek statistical yearbooks (see the accounts for those countries)

Albania consists essentially of a coastal plain (about 20 percent of the country) backed by a mass of rugged high mountain ranges. In the extreme north, the highlands consist of the steep North Albanian Alps of highly eroded limestone and deep inaccessible valleys. The central highlands have a western portion of soft rocks, mainly sandstones, penetrated by wide river valleys, and an eastern portion which is primarily a high serpentine zone. The latter, a continuation of the western former Yugoslavian Dinaric range, is almost impassable. In the extreme south, limestone ranges again occupy the highlands, meet the sea, and continue south into Greece as the ranges of Epirus. The lowland area, predominantly of clays, sands, and gravels, lies along an irregular coast, 48 km at its widest point. Crossed by low limestone ridges running from the mountains to the coast, it is divided into a series of poorly drained once malarial plains separated by spurs and traversed by roughly parallel rivers. The coast, which is building into the sea, is flooded during the rainy season and snowmelt, and is bordered by marshes.

The densest Albanian forests occur in the north, but elevation as well as latitude determines the forest cover. Thus, Mediterranean vegetation such as scrub oak, olive, and maquis is found along the coast and in the south. Oak forests are found on the lower slopes above the xerophytic zone of maquis and extend far inland. They are replaced by beech forests on the higher and moister ranges, alternating with pine forests on the drier subsoils. Above tree-level (1 600–2 000 m) the peaks and ridges have Alpine vegetation. Meadows replace conifers in the higher mountains.

Limestone is the predominant under-rock, although many valleys are floored with sandstones and clays, and the central range has much igneous rock and serpentine. Much of the soil cover has been stripped off and deposited as alluvial fans and deltas.

Albania's coastline is well indented, but lacks islands and has few good harbours. Durrës (Durazzo) is the major port and there are three minor ones. The northern two-thirds of the coast, fringed with turbid, siltladen waters, is characterized by large rivers and deltas. Its shore lands are flat with lagoons and brackish swamps. The southern third has a narrow coastal plain with shorter rivers and clearer waters.


The climate ranges from Mediterranean on the coast to continental in the interior.

In the southern coastal lowlands, the average annual temperature is 16.6°C, the coldest month (January) averages 8.9°C, and the warmest month (July) 25°C. Corresponding temperatures for the northcentral uplands are: 10.5°, 1.1° and 21.1°C, respectively. Inland temperatures vary more with elevation than latitude. The winters are short but cold, with snow on some mountains until August. There is little frost in the lowlands but it is heavy in the mountains. The highland lakes are frozen but freezing is rare along the coast.

The annual precipitation averages 1 500 mm, ranging from less than 1 000 mm on the coast to 2 540 mm in the mountains. The wettest season is from October to March. Most of the rain comes in the form of brief but intense downpours. It usually does not percolate into the soil but runs off the land with great velocity.


Table 4 indicates an inland water area of 1 350 km2 or 4.7 percent of the country's total area. Europa (1979) says that this is lake area; Europa (1984) calls this amount “inland water” area. Since the Albanian area of its three largest lakes, generally considered as the most important freshwater bodies in the country, seems to total only about 316 km2 (see section 5.2), it seems probable that the larger figure includes lagoons and perhaps reservoirs as well.

The average annual run-off in Albania is about 350 mm or 10 000 million m3. Added to this is 3 000 million m3 received from upstream countries, so that the total annual river discharge leaving Albania is about 13 000 million m3 (Van der Leeden, 1975; ECE, 1978).

5.1 Rivers (Lum/Lumi)

The river courses usually consist of longitudinal troughs between the mountain ranges connected by narrow transverse (E-W) gorges cut through the harder rocks and then running westerly to the Adriatic. A northern river, the Vermoshë, which ultimately flows into the Danube, and an even smaller stream which empties southward into the Kastoria Basin of northern Greece are exceptions.

The principal rivers in Albania arranged in order of their length are shown in Table 1. The rivers of the country are, however, described below from north to south as they enter the Adriatic.

Buenë (Boyana). This 44-km river (Buenë in Albania, Bojana in Serbo-Croat) forms a boundary between former Yugoslavia and Albania, and is the outlet for Skadar (Scutari) Lake. Dredged to accommodate river traffic, it is navigable for small ships.

Drin. The most constant river in Albania and perhaps even the longest is the Drin, its regularity maintained by forest cover and summer rainfall. It is formed by the union of the Black Drin (Drin i zi in Albania), which flows north from Lake Ohrid, with the White Drin (Drin i bardhë in Albanian) entering from the northeast. Both forks originate in former Yugoslavia where they are called the Crni Drin (or Drim) and the Beli Drin, respectively. Their product, the Great Drin (Drin i madh), proceeds westwardly to the Sea. The old Drin channel empties into the Adriatic just south of the Buenë River, but the lower Drin's major channel is the 11-km Drinasa which joins the Buenë just beyond the latter's outlet from Skadar Lake.

Mat. Rising in the central highlands, the Mat collects drainage from the Lumë, Urakë, Fan and Dibri rivers before it reaches its gorge. Consequently, it contributes a great load of sediment to its coastal plain.

Table 1

Principal rivers of Albania

RiverLength within Albania (km)Drainage basin area (km2)Maximum discharge (m3/sec)
Seman286 a5 7401 800
Drin2815 635 b1 800
Vijosë2214 1884 240
Shkumbî1852 2861 430
Mat972 400740
Buenë441 551 c-

a Apparently includes the Devoll
b Within Albania only
c Includes Skadar Lake

Source: Gegaj and Krasniqi (1964) for basin area and Buenë River; remainder from (Albania) Dir. des Stat. (1981)

Ishm. Formed by three torrents, the Lum i Ishm also carries much sediment.

Erzen. Next south, this water-deficient stream forms a delta in Lalzës Bay north of the port of Durrës.

Shkumbî. Originating near Lake Ohrid, the Shkumbî separates northern Albania from central Albania as it flows northwest and west in a transverse gorge toward the Adriatic.

Seman. With the largest basin completely within Albania, the Seman is formed in the lowlands by the union of the northern 160-km Devoll and the southern 113-km Osum. It flows generally west in meanders for 80 km to a delta near the Karavastas Lagoon on the Adriatic.

Vijosë. Originating in Greece as the Aoös, the Vijosë flows northwest for 237 km to the Adriatic north of Nartës Lagoon, separating central from southern Albania. En route it passes through several upper gorges before being joined from the left by the parallel Dhrino (“Southern Drin”) and closer to its mouth by another parallel trough, the Shushicë. The lower section of the Vijosë traverses, in braided form, a wide extent of lowland and marsh.

Although much of the Mat and Shkumbî flows through broad valleys, most of the main rivers have cut deep channels into soft formations, e.g., the Drin flows through a 900-m deep gorge for 50 km. Another distinctive feature of Albanian rivers is the considerable elevation at which they flow before reaching the coastal plain. Generally their greatest drop is in their middle courses. They are also characterized by their precipitous falls, irregular seasonal flow patterns of floods and droughts, and ever-changing channels on the plains.

High water generally occurs from November to April, and many of the smaller streambeds are dry during the summer although springs are common.

The mean monthly discharges of the Drin and Vijosë are shown in Table 2.

Table 2

Discharge of two major Albanian rivers

River and StationMean monthly discharge, m3/secBasin area km2Max. flowa m3/sRec.per./yr
Drin River, Vau Deje47246250654155933013572.47117337956412 368-1960–65
57677237248245929513488.090212498556 2 1801966
28623829047744420017191.0101145120284 8501967
4454522943102702549113.0240199479639 2 3301968
Vijosë River, Dorze3663782822791921116743.339571993605 200-1960–65
5952852401831471045028.02949389494 2 7301966
3161301241721821006944.0474637188 1 3401967
311255183151118964239.0353352165 1 0701968

a But see Table 1 for differing figures

Source: Van der Leeden (1975) after Unesco (1971)

5.2 Lakes (Ligen/Ligeni)

The three major lakes of Albania are all international, and all tectonic-karstic in origin1.

1 Morphometric data on these lakes vary considerably according to the source. The allocation here of areas to sharing countries is taken from the Yugoslavian statistical yearbook for 1977. “Naim Frashëri” (1964) lists their Albanian areas as follows: Skadar 140 km2, Ohrid 97 km2, Prespa 100 km2

Skadar or Scutari Lake. Known in Albania as Ligen i Shkodrës or Shkodër, and in former Yugoslavia as Skadarsko Jezero, this northwestern lake is fed by the 97-km Moraca River of former Yugoslavia and tributary to the Adriatic Sea through the Buenë River which has silted up so that it almost cuts the lake off from the Sea. At a total area of 391 km2 (elevation 6 m), 38 percent of the lake or 147.9 km2 lies in Albania; 62 percent in former Yugoslavia. The largest of the Balkan lakes, it is reported to vary from 360 km2 in summer to 690 km2 in winter/spring. At an area of about 372 km2, it has a mean depth of 4.4 m. Despite its shallowness, it has a number of crypto-depressions (up to 63 m in depth) which (at least in former Yugoslavia) yield almost one-half of the lakes' commercial fish harvest, even though they occupy only one percent of its area. Warm and polymictic, Skadar is classed faunally as a cyprinid lake. (See Yugoslavia, section 5.2, for further details.)

Lake Ohrid or Okrida. Lying on the eastern border of Albania, where it is known as Ligen i Ohrit at an elevation of 695 m, it is shared by former Yugoslavia where it is called Ohridsko Jezero. Of its total area of 348.8 km2, one-third or 118.9 km2 lies in Albania. Deepest of the Balkan lakes, it has a maximum depth of 286 m, a mean depth of 145.2 m, and a volume of 50.53 km3. Ohrid is oligotrophic and contains an archaic fauna including both trout and cyprinids. (See section 5.2 of the review of Yugoslavia for further description.)

Lake Prespa or Prespë. “Big Prespa”, at 853 m, shared by Albania (Liqen i Prespës), former Yugoslavia (Prespansko Jezero), and Greece (Límni Megáli Préspa), drains into Lake Ohrid by an underground stream. This oligo-eutrophic lake has a total area of 274 km2, of which 49.4 km2 (18 percent) lies in Albania, 176.8 km (65 percent) in former Yugoslavia, and 47.8 km2 (17 percent) in Greece. It has a maximum depth of 54.2 m, an average depth of 20 m, and a volume of about 4 km3. The catch is mainly of cyprinids.

Only 2.4 km away is “Little Lake Prespa” with which “Big Prespa” was formerly joined. Only the southern tip is in Albania where it is known as Liqen i Prespës së vogël. Most of the lake lies in Greece known there as Límni Mikrá Préspa or Ventrok.

Other lakes. Both Schreiber (1978) and “Naim Frashëri” (1964) state that there are over 150 lakes in Albania, and the latter says that the greater number are of large dimensions and lie in the highlands. However, in addition to the three large international lakes described above, it mentions only the Lura and Belshi lakes, giving neither their location nor area. There is a Lura district on the Black Drin, and a Belsh Plateau west of the lower Devoll. The latter area, of gypsum-karst, is pitted with dolines (basin-shaped collapsed structures with sink-holes) often occupied by small lakes.

Aside from coastal “lakes or lagoons” (see below), the only Albanian inland “lake” named on maps available to the author is Lake Maliq (Liqen i Malaqit) a collapsed lacustrine basin south of Lake Ohrid, at about 813 m, in the Devoll drainage. Once 78 Km2 in area and surrounded by reed beds, it floods the Koritza plain during high water. At one time it supported some primitive fisheries by men using rude dugouts, but much of it has been reclaimed.

If it is indeed correct (section 5 above) that Albania has 1 350 km2 of lake area, then there should be about 1 034 km2 of lakes in addition to the three large international lakes. This is impossible unless one includes what are believed to be quasi-lacustrine freshwater and maritime “lagoons” along the coast (section 5.4).

5.3 Reservoirs

The presence of mountain barriers before the rivers break through them in gorges en route to the lowlands, as well as impervious bedrock for dam sites, provide good conditions for reservoirs in Albania's upland basins.

At least three major hydroelectric stations have been constructed on the Drin, one at Koman having a 115-m dam, and a considerable number of reservoirs and canals for irrigation were built during the 1946–78 period. Data on three reservoirs are shown in Table 3. No information on their fisheries is available to the author.

5.4 Lagoons (Knetë/Kneta)

Lagoons, marshes, and at least semi-freshwater lakes were once common along the low-lying Albanian coast. Malarial control, both through drainage and by flooding with sea water, as well as land reclamation for agriculture have changed the size of these water bodies and their character, and neither their present extent nor their use for fisheries is known to the author1. It may be of value however, as a basis for future study, to list and briefly describe these water areas, even if this is based largely on publications issued about 45 years ago. Proceeding down the Albanian coast from north to south, one finds the following lagoons, swamps and lakes.

1 It is known from Carriere (1978) and (Albania) Dir. des Stat. (1981) that Durrësit, Tërbufit an Karavastas have all been at least partly reclaimed

Table 3

Three Albanian Reservoirs

Lac d'Ulze1281456
Lac de Fierze30070125
Lac de Vau i Dejes742251

Source: (Albania) Dir. des Stat. (1981)

Knetë e Kakarriqit. South of the Buenë River is a marsh and long narrow lagoon of this name draining northwest into the Buenë.

Knetë e Durrësit. South of the Erzen and draining into Durrës Bay, this great swamp also has a open lagoon about 3 km wide, once a port in Roman times.

Knetë e Tërbufit. South of the Shkumbî and somewhat inland is this lagoon or lake, also known as Liqen Tërbuf, now at least partly reclaimed and planted to wheat and cotton.

Knetë e Karavastas. Southwest of Tërbufit and on the delta of the Seman, is this large maritime lagoon, said to be 4.8 km wide and 14.5 km long.

Knetë i Nartës or Liqen i Nartës. South of the mouth of the Vijosë River and north of the port of Valona is another salt marsh and large maritime lagoon, once about 8 km × 13 km in size.

Pasha Liman. This small lagoon and swamp lies at the lower end of Valona Bay.

Liqen i Butrintit. Lake Butrinto opens into Butrinto Bay opposite Corfu at an elevation of 0.3 m lt is about 16 km2 in area with an average depth of 3.5 m and a maximum depth of 25 m.

Liqen i Rëzes. This small freshwater lake near Butrintit appears to be the southernmost body of static water on the Albanian coast.

Reference to Table 5 shows that at least five of these waters were represented in early (1931) catch records, and Dürresit is also known to have had a fishery.

In addition to this fragmentary and admittedly old information on Albanian lagoons, two recent authors may be quoted. Kiener (1978) states that the following are among the more important Albanian lagoons: “Monrak, Ceka, Mouit, Grek Lunit, Kravasta, Terluf, Libosce, Harta, Ducat and Butrinto”. Ravagnan (1981) lists the following Albanian waters as among the “main brackish water fish farms of the Mediterranean”: “lagoon of Harta, lakes of Ducati and Butruito, lagoons of Monrak, Coka Monit, and Grek Lunit”. Unfortunately, no further details are provided.


Albania is one of the least urbanized countries in Europe (only 35 percent), but in terms of arable land per caput it also ranks as one of the lowest of European agricultural countries. All of the agricultural land was socialized, and the use of modern methods such as mechanization and the employment of chemical fertilization have been emphasized. Irrigation from the deep-cut streams of the highlands has been difficult, as has irrigation of the lowlands from its shifting sediment-laden rivers. Still, simple types of irrigation have been practised for years and about 14 percent of all lands are now irrigated (1986). Maize, wheat, oats, barley, sugar beets, potatoes, cotton, and tobacco are common crops. There are some orchards, including citrus, and vineyards. Fertilizer use (about 92 kg/ha) is well below the European average, although exceeding that in neighbouring countries such as Greece and former Yugoslavia. Livestock development is hampered by lack of fodder, but for many years sheep and goats have been grazed in the mountains.

There has been a considerable drainage of marshes and wetlands. Most of the forest except in the north is scrub type. It has been damaged by unsystematic cutting, use for charcoal, burning, and overgrazing. Although Albania still produces some wood for export, its annual production ranks about twenty-second in Europe.

Mining, which has been generating the largest share of the GNP, is extensive, especially for chromite, asphalt, nickel, iron, and copper. Low grade coal and some gas and oil is also present.

Table 4

Pattern of land use in Albania, 1986

Arable and permanent crops24.9
Permanent pasture13.9
Forest and woodland36.3
Other land20.2
Inland water4.7

Source: 1987 FAO Prod. Yearb., 41 (Publ. 1988)

The configuration and elevation of its rivers provides Albania with a considerable capacity for the production of hydroelectricity, although stabilization of runoff by snow accumulation is large only in the Drin basin which holds about half of the power resource. In 1987, 680 000 kW or 89 percent of the country's total electrical production was hydroelectric; the other 85 000 kW was thermal. In terms of total energy production per caput, this is a low figure for Europe. Schreiber (1978) states that the potential hydroelectric capacity of Albania is estimated at 2 500 000 kW and it has sold some electricity to Greece and former Yugoslavia. There are hydroelectric plants on a number of rivers, but their effect on fisheries is unknown.

From a state of neglect and underdevelopment, the centrally planned economy (the state has owned the major means of production) has furthered not only agriculture, foresty, and mining, but the development of energy resources in order to intensify industrialization. The latter now includes: food processing textiles, lumbering, light engineering, and mineral processing, and the development of heavy engineering is also on its way. In addition to some local shipping on the major lakes, only the Buel River, which is dredged and navigable for small ships, constitutes an inland waterway. Rail transportation (in 1988) included only 509 km of track, which is confined to the country, although linked to a line in former Yugoslavia. Automobile road transportation is also poor. Until recently there were no privately owned cars in Albania; most people travel by foot, bicycle or on muleback. There were only 1.6 automobiles per 1 000 persons (1979) and the road density in that year was only 0.19 km/km2. Even as late as September 1991, there were less than 500 private cars in Tirana, the capital (Anon., 1991).

With respect to total consumptive water use, it was estimated circa 1967 that about 200 million m3 (only 1.5 percent of the total runoff) was withdrawn annually. Of this amount 60 percent was used in industry, 30 percent municipally, and only 10 percent in agriculture.

Summer grazing and indiscriminate hunting have reduced wildlife significantly, and it seems probable that potential sport fishing has also suffered through poor land and water use and overexploitation.

Commercial fishing has never been very important in Albania. The total annual catch including aquaculture (marine and inland) is recorded as 12 468 t in 1987. Albanians are reported not to be fish-eaters, and for many years exported rather than consumed fish. Girin (1989) states that the per caput supply of fish in Albania is 4.7 kg.

Shut off from most of the world, as the country has been for years, tourism has not been an important part of the Albanian economy. There is, nevertheless, a national tourist agency, and about 10 000 foreigners have visited Albania annually. Visits to the Adriatic beaches and the larger lakes have been stressed as tourist activities and may be one of Albania's best hopes in the future. Angling has not yet, however, been advertised as an attraction.


The author has little information on the inland fishes of Albania. With former Yugoslavia, it shares the same fishes found in Skadar Lake (15 families of fish of 37 species) with cyprinids making up about 96 percent of the fish biomass. Common carp (Cyprinus carpio) and bleak (Alburnus albidus) are the Lake's most valuable food fishes, but “scrap” fish such as Pachychilon pictum and Rutilus rubilio are also taken. Migrants from the cold tributaries include salmonids such as brown trout (Salmo trutta) and grayling (Thymallus thymallus). Migrants from the Adriatic through the Buenë River include sturgeon (Acipenser spp.), European eel (Anguilla anguilla), grey mullets (Mugil spp.), shad (Alosa fallax), and sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax).

Albania also shares Lake Ohrid with former Yugoslavia. It contains 17 species of fish (10 of which are endemic) with Salmo letnica and Alburnus albidus constituting most of the commercial catch.

Other fishes of economic importance occurring in Albania are crucian carp (Carassius carassius), roaches (Rutilus spp.), grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella), silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix), rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), and sandsmelts (probably atherina (Hepsetia) boyeri). A recent addition aquaculturally is a cyprinid, the round read or Wuchang bream (Megalobrama amblycephala) (see section 7.2), and another cyprinid, Pseudorasbora parva from Asia has been introduced into Lake Prespa.

7.1 Capture Fisheries

7.1.1 Commercial fishing

Aside from the commercial fishing on Skadar Lake and Lake Ohrid, Albanians also fish in its third international lake, “Big” Prespa where the catch is mainly of cyprinids although trout and eel have also been reported as being caught here.

There have been fish traps on the larger Albanian rivers for some years, and at one time Albanian fishing boats from Lake Ohrid were carted overland to fish Lake Prespa. In 1960, Albania installed a harvesting weir on the Buene River which cut down the population of migratory fish in Skadar Lake.

The last detailed information on the inland catch of Albania published by FAO was that of Howard (1950), who presented some “estimates” of annual production which had been published almost 20 years before that time (see Table 5).

Table 5

Estimated annual catch in the fresh waters of Albania circa 1931

Shkodër Lake, Buenë River, estuaries of the Buenë and Drin Rivers800
Lake Butrinto150
Lake Pascia Limani30
Lake Arta (Nartes)150
Lake Cravasta120
Lake Terbuf20
Total1 270

Source: Howard (1950) after Italia (1931)

Since then, the FAO Yearbooks of Fishery Statistics (beginning with Volume 36) merely indicate that statistics on the nominal catch of inland or freshwater fishes in Albania are unavailable during the 1965–69 period. After that (through Volume 56 for 1983), the inland catch is listed as “O” meaning (in the Yearbook) that the catch was more than zero but less than 50 t during the 1970–73 period and more than zero but less than half a ton thereafter. The Yearbook then, however, began to break down the catch statistics for Albania, corrected some of the old ones and, furthermore augmented the catches decidedly. Thus, Vol. 64 for 1987 (FAO, 1989) listed the Albanian catch in freshwater as shown in Table 6.

If one assumes that the old estimates in Table 5 have any degree of validity, and that the fisheries in these waters had not declined to almost zero production, then the early estimates in the FAO Yearbooks of Fishery Statistics of “less than half a metric ton” for all Albanian inland fisheries appear manifestly absurd. Toward confirmation of the author's belief that the production of the Albanian inland fisheries was grossly understimated in those years, he suggests two other approaches:

  1. It seems likely that today's Albanian catch per unit of area fished within the Albanian portion of the three major lakes is somewhat similar to those made in the former Yugoslavian and Greek portions of the same lakes. If this is true, then one might expect a catch in the Albanian portion of Shkodër Lake alone of about 300 to 460 t a year (see review of Yugoslavia).

  2. Or, assuming that even if only 1 000 km2 of Albania's lakes were productive (see section 5) and that they produced only the minimum of 5 kg/ha/year known for its three major lakes (see section 7 under Yugoslavia) - their annual production would still be 500 t.

As is shown in Table 6, the inland catch was still small but was decidedly larger than that shown in earlier statistics.

Table 6

Nominal commercial catch by species in the inland waters of Albania, 1982–87 (in tons)

Common carp (Cyprinus carpio)...............106
Crucian carp (Carassius carassius)...............153
Roaches (Rutilus spp.)...............43
Grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella)...............2
Silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix)...............818
Cyprinids n.e.i. (Cyprinidae)1 700F1 770F1 580F1 780F1 850F730
Freshwater fishes n.e.i. (Osteichthyes)1 050F1 045F893F1 048F1 097F182
European eel (Anguilla anguilla)...............178
Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)250F250F250F250F250F236
Shads (Alosa spp.)...............93
Grey mullets (Mugilidae)...............362
Silversides/Sandsmelts (Argentinidae)a...............132
Total finfish---------------3 035
Freshwater crustaceans (Crustacea)...............154
Total---------------3 189

a Possibly marine or freshwater and marine
... Data not available
F FAO estimate
--- Not applicable
n.e.i. Not elsewhere included

Source: Yearb.Fish.Stat., FAO, 64 (Publ. 1989)

In addition to commercial fisheries, there are undoubtedly subsistence fisheries on the rivers along the coast.

7.1.2 Sport fishing

I have no information on sport fishing in Albania and statistics apparently do not exist. The potential, however, is undoubtedly there.

7.2 Aquaculture

According to Girin (1989) the contribution of aquacultural production in fisheries consumption in Albania was 22.6 percent circa 1985, and he lists an annual Albanian aquacultural production of 3 000 t in 1984, 1985 and 1986. However, this production comprised both freshwater and marine species, and the bulk of this is composed of Mediterranean mussels (Mytilus galloprovincialis). The statistics shown in Table 7 are considered to be of much greater accuracy.

Table 7

Production from aquaculture in fresh water in Albania, 1986–89 (in tons)

Crucian carp (Carassius carassius)12527
Grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella)7
Silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix)300272302346
Wuchang bream (Megalobrama amblycephala)1
Roaches (Rutilus spp.)5
Cyprinids (Cyprinidae)484262126
Freshwater fishes n.e.i. (Osteichthyes)3020111
Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)2222245270
Grey mullets (Mugilidae)1131

Source: FAO, Fishery Statistics and Economic Data Branch, Department of Fisheries, 1991

The greatest emphasis in freshwater fish production in Albania is placed upon the silver carp followed by that on rainbow trout. It seems possible to the author that culture of common carp (Cyprinus carpio) follows that of these two easily cultivable and well-liked species. Certainly many carp are produced to stock lakes and reservoirs.

Megalobrama amblycephala, termed “Wuchang bream” by FAO in Table 7, but more generally known as “round head bream”, is a mid-water or benthic species which is used in polyculture by the Chinese. It seems proable that it was introduced during the Chinese period in Albania. It is not known to have been introduced into European countries along with the usual piscicultural quartet of Chinese carp, grass, silver, bighead (Aristichthys nobilis), and black snail (Mylopharyngodon piceus).

Girin (1989) says that in Albania, 85 people work in the trout industry, producing 350 t and that there are nine units producing carps (this probably includes the Chinese carp) and that new units are under construction. He further states that a total of 12 Albanian hatcheries produce 17 million carp fingerlings for stocking static waters.

Foodstuff for aquaculture (probably pellets) are said to be imported from France.


Information on these aspects of the inland fisheries of this country with (until recently) a centrally planned economy has not been available to FAO or EIFAC. However, ECE (1978) says that Albania has a bilateral agreement with former Yugoslavia concerning uses of boundary waters.


9.1 Yield

See section 7.

9.2 Factors Affecting the Fishery

In general, natural conditions are not favourable for inland fisheries in Albania except in its lakes, and these are not very productive. The rivers have limited and irregular flow (torrential in winter often nearly dry in summer) and their upper reaches often lie in tortuous and inaccessible gorges. In the lowlands, they silt up, change their channels and create swamps or marshlands.

Land reclamation has reduced much of the aquatic habitat. For example, during the 1946–78 period, about 485 km2 of new land were created ((Albania) Dir. des Stat., 1981). Deforestation and overgrazing have eroded much of the land, silted the waters and, despite the underlying terrain of limestone, decreased its fertility.

Even in the coastal areas, there has not been the emphasis on lagoon fisheries found in some of the other Mediterranean countries, and it is believed that the installation of fish traps at lagoon outlets has been the principal form of management. Sociologically, the inhabitants have been oriented toward the Danube - not the coast - and in the past (up to about 1930), the lowlands were malarial in nature thus hindering development of either capture fisheries or extensive aquaculture. Emphasis on drainage both for malarial eradication and to provide agricultural land has affected lagoon fisheries.

On the other hand, water withdrawals (see section 6) have not been great, and industrial development not large (60 percent of the labour force was still in agriculture circa 1979). At present the average annual volume of run-off per caput is about 3 837 m3. The actual situation concerning the effectiveness of this volume of flow in dilution of polluting effluents is unknown.

The effect of dams and other works of man on migratory fishes, e.g., shad, grey mullets and European eel, is unknown. In any event, however, reservoir development should increase the potential for fisheries in upstream waters.

Apart from their basic productivity and species composition, development of the lake fisheries depends in part upon the management procedures used in the bordering countries.

9.3 Prospect

In this country probably still with a good deal of central planning, and apart from the main stream of European development, recent plans have placed emphasis on various goals: socialized agriculture, increased exploitation of mineral resources, and both hydroelectric and industrial development favouring heavy industry.

One of the few statements concerning inland fisheries found in readily available sources is that of Worldmark (1976) and repeated (1984): “In 1958 a development programme for inland fisheries was begun; the results were improved exploitation and conservation as well as increased fish reserves and catches”.

Lacking any firm information on Albanian inland fisheries other than that presented here, it is difficult to attempt a future evaluation. However, in view of the facts at hand, only limited development is foreseen, except perhaps in aquaculture and lagoon or brackishwater fisheries, and when the country has achieved more stability some emphasis on tourist sort fishing.


Albania, 1981. Direction des Statistiques près la Commission du Plan d'Etat, 35 Années d'Albanie socialiste. Données statistique sur le développement de l'économie et de la culture. Tirana, Editions - 8 Nëntori, 139 p.

Carriere, P., J.P. Deffontaines and C. Raichon, 1978. L'Albanie: développement d'une agriculture socialiste et Méditerranéene. Université Paul Valéry de Montpellier, Institut National de Recherche Agronomique (S.E.I.), 143 p.

Chekrezi, C.A., 1971. Albania past and present. New York, Arno Press and the New York Times, 255 p. France, Ministère de la Guerre, 1915 Commission de Géographie du Service Géographique de l'Armée, Notice sur l'Albanie et le lvlonténegro. Paris, Imprimerie Nationale, 140 p.

Gegaj, A. and R. Krasniqi, 1964. Albania. New York.

Great Britain, Naval Intelligence Division, 1945. Albania. Oxford, Oxford University Press, Geographical handbook series, BR 542 (Restricted): 416 p.

Keefe, E.K. et al., 1971. Area handbook for Albania. Washington, D.C., Superintendent of Documents (DA PAM 550–98): 223 p.

Louis, H., 1927. Albanien, eine Landeskunde vornehmlich auf grund eigener Reisen. Stuttgart, J. Engelhorns Nachf., 164 p.

Naim Frashëri, 1964. Albania. Geographical, historical and economic data. Tirana, “Naim Frashëri” State Publishing House, 61 p.

Schreiber, T., 1978. L'Albanie. Evolution politique, économique et sociale. Notes Etud.Doc.Paris, (4482): 124 p.

Skendi, S. (ed.), 1956. Albania. New York, Frederick A. Praeger, 389 p.

U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Public Affairs, 1981. Albania. Background Notes Ser.Wash., (8217): 6p

Vlora, A.K., 1979. La nuova Albania: lineamenti fisica, antropici ed economici. L'Universo: Riv.Bimest.Divulg.Geog.,Firenze, 79 (1):66–122

Anon., 1989. Muttontown's King. The New Yorker, Sept. 11, 1989, pp. 33–4

Anon., 1991. Albania discovers the automobile. San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 8, 1991, Sunday Punch Section, p. 5

Top of Page Next Page