January 2004


Table 1. Main landing places, effort and landings


Landing place







No. of vessels






Power (HP)

10 168

2 371

6 582

 4 631

23 752

Days at sea

8 051

4 110

5 668

4 612

22 441







Landings (tonne)

1 623


1 126

1 047

4 270

Source: Fisheries Directorate, Ministry of Agriculture and Food (MoAF).


The recently finalized First National Plan for the fisheries sector covers both capture fisheries and aquaculture, and appears at a time of transition, with all active fish industry segments engaged in restoring productive capacity. Production from the capture sector in the last decade fell from 10 400 tonne landed in 1990 to 5 000 tonne landed in 1999, and 4 112 tonne landed in 2002.

The decline in catch has been observed by the government and the Fisheries Directorate (FD), and a number of measures taken to offset the decline in the industry. The lack of a coherent planning framework to guide actions in part explains the difficulty of counteracting the decline in the fishery industry in Albania. This First National Plan attempts to draw together in one comprehensive document much of the information available on Albanian fisheries and aquaculture, with objectives, tools and means identified and made consistent with the need to restore and rehabilitate most of the country’s fishing and aquaculture industry.

Fishery sector strategies

In composing the strategies and management, development policies take into account the actual and potential contributions not only of marine fishery but also inland fishery and aquaculture. The identified objectives are to:

  • provide for rational exploitation of fishery resource through responsible fishing;
  • programme and apply responsible fishery management;
  • provide preservation and conservation measures based on biological criteria for the marine ecosystem and inland waters;
  • develop aquaculture in marine and inland waters;
  • stimulate and organize scientific and technical research for specific circumstances, within a harmonious and sustainable development environment;
  • support sustainable development of capture fishery and aquaculture while improving the socio-economic conditions for producers; and
  • satisfy consumer demands by ensuring that the market is supplied with appropriate fish products, and that they are fit for human consumption.

With World Bank support, the Government of Albania has negotiated a Fishery Development Project, with a budget of US$ 6.66 million, coming as credit on standard IDA terms (repayable in 40 years with a 10-year grace period), to support the development of activities in the fishery sector, including promotion of Fishery Associations, infrastructure development, fishery research management, improved aquaculture, and strengthening of FD and scientific research.

In particular, this project foresees the establishment and strengthening of Fishery Management Organizations, as non-profit organizations, that will assume responsibility for:

·     harbours and rehabilitated fishery centres management; and

·     implementing responsible fishery activities.

These management activities are premised on implementation through "co-management", which implies that the relevant laws and implementing regulations are developed collaboratively by the government and the associations in the fisheries industry sector, thus empowering the fishery community through its associations. The associations will also assume some of the responsibility for ensuring that legislation is respected.

The new concept of fishery resourses "co-management" will mean that the State, through FD and Fishery Management Organizations, will delegate part of the responsibility for marine and inland fishery resourse management. In particular, decisions related to fishery resource management will be taken together by the State and the Fishery Management Organizations, producing joint Fishery Management Plans. These plans will determinate management measures, such as number of fishery licences, fishing gear restrictions, and limits on fishing in certain zones and seasons.


Fishery sector institutions

Fishery administration is effected by the Fishery Directorate (FD) in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food (MoAF). FD also represents the Albanian fisheries sector at the international level.























Fishery Resources Sector


Fisheries Research Institute, Durres


Fisheries Inspectorate















16 Inspectors in 14 national districts









General legal framework

Fishing activities are regulated through Law 7908 (dated 05/04/1995), "For Fishery and Aquaculture". Under this law three regulations have been promulgated governing the sustainable use of aquatic biological resources and aquaculture; ensuring sustainable development of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors; and promoting research and technical progress.

Albanian legislation in the field of fisheries embodies contemporary thinking and is based on principles of sustainable use of reserves and development of the fisheries sector.

The law provides for the operation and functioning of central and local bodies; scientific research; methods of fishing and aquaculture activities; management of lagoons and other estuarine waters; and methods of control, together with penalties, sanctions and responsibilities.

Further improvements have been recently approved by the Parliament (Law No. 7780). These amendments relate to the co-management of resources and structures by government and users. The amendments envisage the management of fishing ports and related facilities by Fisheries Management Associations. Also, associations will be more involved in decision-making concerning issues related to exploitation of reserves. These legislative changes embody concepts found in the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.

According to Regulations 1 and 2 set under Law 7908, fishing licences will be issued by MoAF. A Fishing Licence Board has been established under FD to review requests from private entities. A licence is signed by the Minister, is valid for one year and can be renewed. Licences for intensive aquaculture can be for up to 20 years. For licences for capture fisheries in inland waters, the opinion of local government is taken into consideration.

Fishery management systems

The Fisheries Management Plan aims to set policy priorities and establishes the framework for interventions in order to:

   (i)          contribute to a sustainable balance between fisheries resources and fishing effort;

  (ii)          increase the competitiveness of structures and develop viable enterprises in the industry; and

(iii)          improve fisheries and aquaculture value-addition, and revitalize areas economically dependent on fisheries.

Technical measures

A number of technical measures are incorporated in the Fishery Legislation, in Regulation No. 1. These include: §40 – Areas protected from fishing; §41 – Trawl and pelagic fishing; §42 – Sea communication channels for the lagoons; §43 – V-shaped traps "lavoriero"; §44 –Authorization for the restocking of natural waters; §45 – Prohibited fishing; §46 – Bans or limits on fishing specific species, and fishing at certain periods and in specific areas; §47 – Measuring the dimensions of aquatic organisms; §48 – Minimum dimensions for aquatic organisms; and §49 – Maximum daily catch quantities for bivalves (cockles).


Fleet renewal and modernization

The renewal of the fleet will be continued, to increase fleet capacity. This will allow more distant fishing and the development of the small pelagic species catch, which for the time being is under­exploited. Fleet priorities are indicated below, based on the state of resources and their sustainability.

Purse seine fleet

In order to fulfil internal demand from the existing processing industry and for export, the purse seine sector needs redevelopment, both by modernizing current vessels and by supporting the construction of new vessels. It is considered that 10 to 15 vessels would be able to meet the demand.

Modernization of the small non-trawl fleet

The development of a small-scale fishery (vessels < 12 GRT) is strategic from a social and economic perspective. In particular, considering the incidence of fuel cost and the scarcity of financial means available to fishermen for the building of new vessels, the renewal of this fleet segment constitutes a priority. As renewal would make the activity more affordable and economically sustainable, it would also help avoid heavy impact on biological resources, given the gear selectivity used by this fleet segment.


Currently the trawling fleet comprises 38 vessels, all of them old, inefficient and unsafe. From a technical and economic point of view it is considered inefficient to attempt to modernize the existing vessels. It would be more efficient to gradually renew the fleet with vessels with technical characteristics more suitable for Albanian fisheries. Implementation of this requires the existence of port facilities that could support the maintenance of these vessels.

Implementing European Union hygiene requirements for shell-fisheries development

The commercial fishery for bivalve molluscs, of which the principal species is clam (Venus chione) was shut down by MoAF in June 1991 because of severe resource depletion and closure of the export markets as the product failed to satisfy European Union (EU) inspection requirements.

At the moment, the design and application of water monitoring systems to improve and control quality, traceability, health conditions, statistical instruments and environmental impact are being implemented, aiming to satisfy EU requirements and allow the re-opening of the fishery. It is of major importance that vigilance be maintained in future in order to guarantee the continuity of the mollusc fisheries. In the meantime, limits on the number of authorized vessels and the ban on hydraulic dredges should be maintained in order to avoid the possibility of unsustainable fishing pressure.

Monitoring and adjustment of fishing effort

The need to balance harvesting and processing capacity with estimated sustainable levels of biological resources implies constant monitoring of fishing effort in order to assess the impacts of fishing on different stocks and to address interim management measures. In this framework, the licence system will be maintained and the vessel register updated annually, ensuring that only fishing operations authorized by FD occur.

Implementing fisheries statistical services

There is need to implement an ongoing statistical monitoring system, implying reinforcement of the FD statistical and economic information function. Data need to be gathered and processed in support of management, programming and ad hoc intervention measures.

Following the implementation of a statistics service within FD, it will be possible to produce regular reports, providing the basis for resource management planning, economic policy and provision of information to other government departments, industry, non-governmental institutions such as universities or other technical assistance agencies, and the public.

Supporting fishery associations

Modernization of the whole industry requires the development and strengthening of producer associations. In this respect, other countries around the Mediterranean have experienced the benefit of having strong associations, often cooperating with national public administration in the implementation of fisheries policies.

Potential activities involving the participation of producer associations include the management of micro-credit schemes, fishing effort limitations, training of associates, increasing compliance with national regulations, marketing and concentration of produce, realization of common facilities for maintenance and trade, and much more.

Producer associations have an important role in contributing to the functioning of the committees foreseen by the recent legislation; the stronger the associations, the more valuable their contribution.

Professional re-qualification and training

MoAF aims to activate professional re-qualification and training programmes. Programmes would take into account the level of general education and the fishing activities to be carried out. The approach that the FD will follow will ensure that all those engaging in fishing operations will be able to deal with new technologies and carry out their duties according to national law. The education and training programmes aim to train fishermen concerning safety equipment on board, improvement of sanitary and working conditions, quality, and organization of transmission of know-how aboard vessels and on land.

At least 30 courses are foreseen each year, with the participation of about 20 fishermen each, meaning that some 600 fishermen could be trained each year.

Fuel subsidies

A high fuel price penalizes fishing activities and introduces unfair competition. Its economic weight in total production costs for Albanian fishers is up to 70 percent, compared with an average of 48 percent for other countries fishing in the Mediterranean. The target is to reduce the fuel price to lek 40/litre, as it is in neighbouring coastal countries. Cheaper fuel would increase activity and allow a fairer income to be earned by Albanian fishermen.


The quantity and quality of these lagoons, with their significant environmental attributes, are clearly recognized by both the government and the international community. As such, rehabilitation of most of them is a priority, and external donor support has been provided to this end. Additionally, many foreign investors have shown themselves ready to participate in resource management and exploitation within the limits set by current legislation.

It is important to recognize that two commercial activities are involved: capture fisheries and aquaculture. The two are not always compatible. In some cases, fishing is limited to licence holders, or unlicensed, while economic groups not involved with capture fishery are involved in aquaculture. In all cases, productivity will depend on a combination of careful water control and of anti-pollution measures.

Infrastructural issues

Productivity of inshore and coastal lagoon fisheries in Albania has fallen steeply in recent years. It is of overwhelming importance to intervene in the areas of:

·         management legislation;

·         site maintenance and realization of hydraulic works; and

·         water pollution control.

Restoring ecological equilibrium conditions implies the combination of legislative, administrative, technical and financial aspects, all of them essential to the drawing up of a sound policy.

Adopting a suitable legal and institutional legislative framework

The current legislation is unclear and ambiguous. There is a frequent overlap of competencies in management of Albanian coastal lagoons, and the legal and institutional framework has to be clarified, and should reflect an integrated and conservation-oriented management approach to lagoons. It is recognized that this is a priority and the government is committed to providing a legislative solution to the problem. Property rights, access to the water and duration of rights are some of the main issues needing to be addressed.

Site maintenance and realization of hydraulic works

In recent years there has been a lack of maintenance of structures controlling natural water flows. In most cases, plans exist to restore ecological equilibrium, and funding has also been allocated.  In many cases, project starts have been delayed due to ambiguity in ownership of the sites and of the equipment to be installed. Again, clear legislation is needed.

Water pollution control

Together with water flow control, pollution has had a negative effect on inshore and lagoon productivity. Pollution sources need to be identified and eliminated. Together with restoration of ecological conditions, there are several projects directed towards controlling pollution. However, one of the major problems is the need for clarification of competencies among different public bodies involved in the management of sites.

Management and exploitation issues

FD recognizes the need to promote a responsible approach to fishing and aquaculture development in inshore and coastal lagoons. In this respect, FD intends to incorporate these principles in the Fishery Management Plan, and in order to achieve this it has been agreed to establish, maintain and develop an appropriate legal framework, which facilitates the development of responsible aquaculture. In the perspective of promoting responsible development and management of aquaculture, FD will consider as a priority the evaluation of genetic diversity and ecosystem integrity, together with aquaculture development in Albania, based on the best scientific information.

In this sphere also, lack of suitable credit facilities is limiting aquaculture development. Here, the setting-up of micro-credit schemes would enable farmers to gain access to the capital needed to start or develop their activity. As access to formal bank system sources is difficult, FD would suggest and support projects realized by donor agencies that include financial support schemes directed to allow farmers to realize productive investments within the MoAF framework.

Converting freshwater farms from cyprinid to mugilid species

The rehabilitation of the freshwater aquaculture sector requires some restructuring of activities, with integration of part of the industry based on the culture of cyprinid species with that based on mugilid species. The local demand for mugilid species is higher than for cyprinids, due to local culinary tradition. The availability of local farming expertise, existence of the infrastructure and the possibility of expert support should support the success of this activity.

Training programmes for the development of aquaculture in coastal lagoons

In Albania, there are 8 major coastal lagoons with a total area of about 10 000 ha. They constitute an important resource for Albania, from both an ecological and an economic point of view. The development of aquaculture in coastal lagoons involves control of water circulation and water renewal in the lagoons, as well as selective fish “seeding”. A training programme is planned to assist Albanian fish farmers and to improve their awareness of responsible fish farming in lagoons.

Guidelines for coastal lagoon use

The major constraint to coastal lagoon aquaculture remains the legal status of the lagoons. Despite numerous laws, it remains unclear. The lack of a clear legislative framework leads to overlap of competencies in management. Concerted action of competent institutions, involving the Fisheries Department, will aim to prepare a suitable legal and institutional framework as soon as possible. This should achieve sustainable and integrated use of coastal lagoon resources, taking into account the fragility of coastal lagoon ecosystems and the finite nature of their natural resources, and the needs of coastal communities. In order to finalize these objectives, an Albanian policy for organic fish farming (integrated with a protocol of intents) will be elaborated.

Environmental and quality principles for extensive aquaculture

In the context of the development of aquaculture inside coastal lagoons and a high export demand for wild and wild-like fish production (sea bass and sea bream), FD aims to promote integrated application of international standards in the industry, namely ISO 9000 for quality and ISO 14000 for the environment. This will be for the fish farming organizations, and will promote organic fish farming principles in Albanian lagoons in compliance with EU directives.

Mussel farming rehabilitation

The rehabilitation of the existing farming facilities in Butrinti lagoon and resumption of export for molluscs are fundamental steps in improving mussel farming activity. In this perspective, it will be necessary to establish a monitoring system for Albanian coastal waters and for the respective populations of bivalve molluscs. For mussels to be eligible for export to the EU, it is mandatory have a consolidated monitoring system fulfilling EU requirements. FD intends to guarantee the categorization of the waters and the areas of production (A, B, C), requiring the setting up and strengthening of supervisory structures, included the strengthening of laboratories at a local level (part of which has started) and strengthening of cooperation between fishery and veterinary inspectorates.

The establishment of a small-capacity hatchery in support of Mariculture development

Mariculture development in Albania would start by focusing on those species that are typically requested in the local market and immediate export market (sea bass and sea bream), and use well-established and simple culture techniques. The main developmental constraint for this is the availability of farming technologies and capital to establish commercial operations. FD intends to encourage a pilot project aiming to establish a small-capacity hatchery based on wild-like semi-intensive criteria, and benefiting from Italian experience. The first step will be the approval of a pilot small-module hatchery that can be replicated to other lagoons through private funding. The main function of this mini hatchery would be to introduce tested technologies, to train local technicians and to provide adequate hatchery and farm design for interested entrepreneurs.

Resources overexploitation

The large number of fishermen exploiting the biological resources is one of the most important causes of depletion of fish stocks in inshore and coastal lagoon fisheries. Of course there are socio-economic reasons behind the current excessive number of people living off these resources, but, given the current rate of exploitation, fisheries are probably unsustainable.

FD is well aware of the importance of safeguarding these areas from overexploitation and has considered various options for restoring compatible fishing activity. Options for avoiding overfishing include:

·         controlling the number and the issue of licences for lagoon fisheries;

·         setting and enforcing restrictions on the size and nature of fishing gear and ensuring legislation is respected;

·         establishing fishing seasons; and

·         establishing protected areas within the lagoons.


Common property resources management

The Fisheries in Inland Water Action Plan gives priority to common property resources management of fisheries in natural and artificial inland waterbodies. Albania has a great number of natural lakes and hydropower and irrigation reservoirs, which are currently underexploited. In fact, these fisheries have lost their traditional markets, lack expert management and need working capital. In such a situation, FD is willing to favour the development of domestic markets for the fresh product and to give economic opportunities to less advantaged rural areas.

To achieve these goals, FD considers micro-credit schemes to be a potentially valuable tool, which would allow local fishermen and local population to gain access to the minimal financial resources needed to implement fishing activity.

Management guidelines for inland fisheries

In order to develop an operational framework for improved control and rational utilization of natural and artificial inland waterbodies, FD plans administrative guidelines for protecting the ecosystems and raising the awareness of local authorities and fishermen for further and more effective future coordination and cooperation. Introducing a traditional licensing scheme for these sites should help eliminate illegal fishing, control fishing effort and manage the resources in a sustainable manner.

Micro-credit scheme for inland water re-stocking

The management guidelines presume the implementation of a micro-credit scheme and will involve cooperation between local authorities, fishermen and FD inspectors. Elsewhere, micro-credit has proved itself to be an effective tool for developing less advantaged activities by creating opportunities for access to financial resources.  In the case of rural areas, micro-credit scheme will provide funds to activate a large number of people through the involvement of local authorities and fishermen in a re-stocking programme aiming to rehabilitate fisheries activities in inland waterbodies.

Among the priorities of the Inland Water Action Plan, there is the need to sign interstate agreements among Albania, Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Coordination and regulation of water use will allow implementing a common strategy in protecting the ecosystem in their shared waters. FD intends to establish a network among national research institutes aiming to promote joint research programmes.  

Data collection

Data collection is based on Law 7908 and Regulation No. 1 set under it. Declaration of statistical data is one of the fundamental conditions for renewal of a the fishing licence.

To further improve data collection on fisheries, and to better conform national legislation to EU legislation, preparatory work has begun on the improvement of the data collection system, based on EU Regulation No. 1543/2000 dated 29 June 2000 “which determines the Community structures for the collection and processing of necessary data in order to follow common policies in the fisheries”, and Regulation of the Commission (CE) No. 1639/2001 dated 25 July 2001 “that establishes a minimal programme and a broad programme for data collection in the fisheries sector and determines the ways for application of the regulation (CE) 1543/2000 of the Council of Europe”.

These Regulations provide for the establishment of an efficient system of data collection as well as development and funding of monitoring programmes. In this context, the support of the Adriamed Project has been obtained as a first step, through the establishment of Albfish – a unit for data collection and collation. The Albfish unit will consist of a central collation and publication centre with data collection agents in the main fishery landing places. A parallel biological data collection programme will provide the basis for monitoring fishing effort. Future efforts focus on expanding the Albfish unit. The database has been prepared and is currently being completed with the assistance of FAO. The software will allow generation of reports according to FAO, EU and national standards.

Completion of the first stage was expected by February 2004, but the programme will be further expanded. Data will be available over the Internet, as official reports. Maintenance of this system is expected to continue after the start of the Fisheries Development Project. The number of local monitors will be increased in order to cover all categories of fishing. Monitors will be established under the fishing associations. This system will cover all inland waterbodies and aquaculture.

Funding of research efforts under this programme will be implemented through modification of current Fisheries Research Institute funding.

Projections of supply and demand

The policy for the fisheries sector is to expand fishery production from all sectors, but with a focus on aquaculture. Over the next 25 years, the government hopes to converge with the EU average.

Internet links

Fishery Direcorate