Replaces: Arabic version (2006), Spanish version (2006), French version (2006), Chinese version (2006)
Albania is a rich country in water resources which comprise of natural inland waters, artificial lakes for generating hydroelectricity, a number of rivers (with a snowmelt-pluvial regime with torrential characteristics, ensuring a plentiful source of freshwater), an abundance of reservoirs for agricultural use, coastal lagoons along the western part of the country, a well-developed hydrographical network and the largest lakes in the Balkan Peninsula. Aquaculture is currently a significant activity and has potential for development in the future, interweaving social, economic, biological, ecological and environmental aspects.
During the previous regime, the freshwater aquaculture received considerable attention and support. It was based on the culture of the most common cyprinid species (e.g. common carp and Chinese carps). A long period of collaboration and exchange of expertise with their Chinese counterparts enabled the Albanian authorities to successfully acquire carp poly-culture techniques and train local experts.
After the political changes, the emerging private sector initiatives required new aquaculture species and technologies. Fish farmers looked for better quality species; especially commercial species which could be farmed not only in inland waters, but also in marine waters which, until 2000 had not been exploited. Starting from demographic movements that led to an increase in population in coastal areas, the pressure on marine fishing grew rapidly. Fish farming is considered to be the most efficient measure to ensure that fish resources are not over exploited; hence this call for new challenges in environmental protection.
Albania has a population of 3.4 million inhabitants and indicate the one of the highest population growth rates in Europe. In countries such as Albania, the aquaculture can assist in the alleviation of poverty by combining the introduction of new commercial species and technologies with less expensive cultivated species.
The Albanian experience in aquaculture, using mainly semi-intensive practices, began in the early 1960s. Until the 1990s, it involved the production of carp family species, reaching a total of 25 hatcheries which covered a surface of 800 ha. Given the country's abundant water resources, climate, biological potential and socio-political factors, the prospects for developing this important sector for the Albanian economy was high. The economic directives of the earlier political system had encouraged carp culture in all Albanian inland waters as a cheap and easy way of achieving food security. This experience forms a good base to develop fish farming and to establish food preferences for consumers in the highland areas, providing nutrition sources in areas where there was a scarcity of marine fish and high levels of poverty. In rural areas, this tradition still continues through the network of reservoirs which serves mainly for rural agriculture, built-up during earlier years.
Extensive aquaculture in coastal lagoons has been traditionally developed in Albania. The total surface area of lagoons along the Albanian coast is about 10 000 ha, broken down as follows: Velipoja 180 ha; Merxhan 300 ha; Ceka 800 ha; Patoku 300 ha; Karavasta 3 900 ha; Narta 2 800 ha; Orikum 120 ha; and Butrinti 1 600 ha. With the exception of the Butrinti lagoon, which is situated along the Ionian Sea, the other lagoons are on the coast along the Adriatic Sea. In some of them, the groups of fishermen who are licensed to use for artizanal fishing activity, by weirs in the coastal lagoons, with the encouragement of fishery specialists, built ponds for fattening the juveniles stored during the fishing season in the lagoon, until they reach marketable size. This measure will increase their income as well as protect the juveniles.
Mediterranean mussel cultivation (Mytilus galloprovincialis) was concentrated in Butrinti lagoon in Saranda, where around 80 mussel cultivation facilities were constructed during the 1980s, with an average production of about 2 000 tonnes/year and a maximum of about 5 000 tonnes in 1990. After 1990 production declined sharply in the period of economic and political transition, but lately has shown a positive trend, not only in this lagoon but either in others and in open sea.
The first intensive aquaculture of marine species began in the middle of the 1990s, with growing out of shrimps and cultivation of marine species in floating cages along the Ionian coast.From this time this activity is showing a rapid growth. Cold water salmonids, mainly rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and Ohrid trout (Salmo letnica), are another important group within intensive/semi intensive aquaculture production in Albania. The results of the first few years of production are very promising and have attracted the interest of Albanian businessmen with a view of extending this activity to other coastal areas.
Artificial lakes comprise a surface of 7 000 ha and artificial reservoirs a surface of 2 700 ha. Ohrid Lake is one of the lakes where by using korani’s fingerlings restocking is carried out successfully. It is stocked through the Lini hatchery, where artificial reproduction of Salmo letnica has been carried out since 1965, and which currently stocks millions of larvae and fingerlings every year. In 2005, by financial support of the World Bank through the Pilot Project of Fishery Development, this centre is being built up as a modern reproduction centre which restocks the Ohrid Lake annually with ohrid trout fingerlings and larvae. The seed materials (larvae and fingerlings) are produced under controlled systems, starting from the eggs collected from the maturation brood stock stored in the lake by specialized fishermen The Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Water Administration is responsible for the management and financial support of this hatchery. The fish catch varies from 90 to 150 tonnes per year.
The fish catch in Prespa Lake consists mainly of cyprinids with a high proportion of bleak (Alburnus albidus) and common carp, with an average production of about 300 tonnes per year. The same restocking policy is pursued here as for Ohrid Lake, with government support. Every year this hatchery produces about 600 000 indigenous carp larvae and fingerlings which are used to restock Prespa Lake.
Integrated extensive aquaculture production systems are being considered for artificial lakes and reservoirs because of their multipurpose nature (combining electric power and fishing and/or agriculture and fishing). There are 670 watersheds covering a total surface of 2 700 ha created for irrigation purposes and about 118 of them are also used for fishing. Agricultural reservoirs are located throughout the entire country. The fishing activity in these reservoirs is possible through a stocking program using the fingerlings of the Cyprinidae family through poly culture. Fingerlings are allowed to grow naturally (not or few feeding). This is an extensive form of aquaculture and the utilization of fish with a low market value. The activity is important in that it provides a source of income and protein for the poorest areas of Albania. The greatest concentration of these watersheds is in the region of Elbasan and Fier. Their production vary from 500 to 600 tonnes per year.
An estimated 2 500 fish farmers are employed in aquaculture. In marine aquaculture and mollusc culture there are 250 fish farmers amongst whom 50 work part-time. Fish farmers employed in inland aquaculture number 2 250; they are involved in trout and shrimp culture, in agricultural reservoirs and in natural and artificial lakes.
Fishery Management Organizations (FMOs) are being promoted in some water body categories, through the Pilot Project of Fishery Development of the World Bank. Such organizations have been established in Ohrid Lake, Prespa Lake, Shkodra Lake, Uleza Lake, and Fierza Lake. Their task is to manage fisheries in general (including aquaculture). Other regional inland organizations, such as Elbasani, Shijaku (near Durresi) and Fieri deal specifically with extensive aquaculture management.
Since aquaculture requires high levels of skill and professionalism there is a need for training and education of fish producers. Information, dissemination and educational and training programmes need to be encouraged to ensure the development of aquaculture in the country.
As already mentioned, during the last twenty years the aquaculture field in Albania has been adopting new structures and technology as a way of meeting the demand for commercial fish and creating benefits for the farmers such as new employment opportunities, increasing incomes and widening the spectrum of protein availability as well as providing incomes through exports of high-value fish. However, the production cost of sea bass and sea bream has been artificially raised because the fact that the larvae and fingerlings are still imported, mainly from Greece and Italy.
Apart from the coastal lagoons, which are in the western part of Albania, the fresh water aquaculture centres are mostly concentrated in the central to southern regions. The favourable climatic characteristics and variability of water sources as well as the relatively higher economic level of inhabitants in this part of Albania since the tourism is concentrated mainly here make possible and attractive the investments in aquaculture.
The main cultured species produced in Albania are as follows:
These cultured species are important in the areas where they are cultivated. The trout centres are developed mainly in south-east Albania, which is a highland area, hence trout is a good food source for the population and its farming ensures good incomes for the farmers from this area.
Marine culture species are not yet being artificially reproduced in the country, but are imported as fingerlings. Their production is going well in south-west Albania, by the Ionian Sea.
The species of the carp family are extended through central and northern parts of inland Albania, mainly in the rural areas. Except of common carp, the others has been introduced from China. In such rural areas, the government is influenced by its policies on poverty reduction, therefore encouraging the production of species which are of low cost and at the same time are important in terms of nutrition.
Carp farming was the most widespread aquaculture practice in Albania, and has built up a strong base of experience. The biotechnology used in polyculture cultivation of these species was based on the stocking of fingerlings which make possible a rational and efficient use of natural food resources at different water depths. The introduction of artificial feeds contributed to achieving a high rate of fish production. Although this species continues to be popular in northern Albania especially in Shkodra Lake, due to its traditional availability and appeal, from 1990 onwards interest in intensive and semi-intensive indigenous carp and Chinese carp cultivation has been declining, with increasing interest in commercial species; this has changed the structure of aquaculture in Albania.
Earlier there was one rainbow trout farm covering 4.2 ha raceways near Saranda with a yearly production of about 250 tonnes. From 2003 about 25 new trout fish farms have been built, run mostly by farming families, in Saranda, Tepelena, Pogradec, Librazhd, Dibra, Tropoja and other regions.
The farming of marine species in Albania is going to show a rapid developed. There is only one extensive shrimp culture farm of Narta (200 ha) which are attempting to put it back in operation by also founding a joint venture with Italian partners; this fish farm has the intrinsic advantage of being near the sea and is therefore attracting foreign investors.
Bivalve culture has been developed since the beginning of the 1960s in the coastal lagoon of Butrinti where fixed structures are being used for the production of Mediterranean mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis). Due to the excellent environmental conditions in this lagoon, about 80 fixed concrete units were constructed here during the 1970s. Since this time production has grown steadily, reaching a maximum of 5 000 tonnes/year by the end of the 1980s. In later years, mussel breeding was practically stopped, for reasons relating to internal organization but also, above all, because of the ban on exports of all live fisheries products imposed for sanitary reasons by the European Union in October 1994. About 75 percent of the fixed structures are now into operation, mainly for the local market, with the hope that exports to countries of the European Union will be opened up again. Until now about 60 fixed concrete units are in production, with an output of 676 tonnes and 7 subjects are cultivating this mollusc by another technology, by floating units.
Floating cage farming of marine finfish started in 2002, involving Gilthead sea bream and European sea bass, and now is intensively practiced by using floating cages. The activity is practiced by 24 organizations, and the maximum number of cages allowed is 451.
Many suitable locations for this activity have been identified along the littoral zone of the Ionian Sea and, as an added advantage; there are no conflicts with the other users of these areas. The main problem for marine aqua-culturists is the lack of fingerlings and locally produced fish feed - importing these two products increases the cost of the fish produced.
Fish production according to the different water categories has changed over the last few years. At the beginning of the 1990s, Albania inherited about 35 aquaculture farms and hatcheries from the previous political regime. After privatization and the economic transition, almost of them went out of operation. However, during recent years investments have been carried out to set up new farms with more suitable species for the market and new approaches of aquaculture farming including sea farms with cage culture. The lack of hatcheries for the production of fingerlings of seabass and seabream remains the critical problem for fish farmers.
Although there are now 3-4 hatcheries producing carp fingerlings, with a total surface of about 10 ha and a yearly production of about 2 million fingerlings, the continuing shortfall in fingerling production leads to a poor stocking rate in the reservoirs and natural and artificial lakes, and this is reflected in a comparatively poor fish catch. Under the Fisheries Research Institute there were four public property aquaculture farms which involved in the inland waters restocking programme, with governmental support. In 2007, under the regulatory reform of research institutions undertaken by the Albanian Government, the Institute was transformed into the Laboratory of Fisheries and Aquaculture, under the jurisdiction of the Agricultural University of Tirana. The Lini hatchery produces about 1 million larvae and fingerlings of autochthon salmon (ohrid trout, Salmo letnica) to restock Ohrid Lake. The Zvezda hatchery produces about 600 000 indigenous carp larvae and fingerlings to restock Prespa Lake. Finally, the Tapiza hatchery produces Chinese carp, but lately serve as experimental hatchery for University of Agriculture where is transferred also the Fishery Institute. Lini and Zvezda hatcheries now are under the Ministry of Environment with the same purpose;restocking Ohrid and Prespa Lakes.
The graph below shows total aquaculture production in Albania according to FAO statistics:
Aquaculture is under pressure from the increased demand for fish and fish products. The contribution of aquaculture to economy has become and will remain important in the entire country, but is of particular significance in the western part of Albania, where tourism is more present but also in eastern part where the alternative sources of fish are limited. In the last twenty years the development of aquaculture has been directed towards those products in high demand. products in south of country where this activity can be further expanded. The high prices of fish products and the lack of wholesale fish markets which are a necessity in every fishery area, create difficulties for the farmers in trading their aquaculture products.
Aquaculture is under pressure from increased demand for fish and fish products. The contribution aquaculture to food security has become and will remain important in entire country, but specially in east part of Albania, where the possibilities in alternative fish sources are limited.
In other hand, the development of aquaculture, these three last years was directed in such forms that our fish market have more requests. Albania imports marine aquaculture products from Greece, mainly Sea Bass and Sea Bream with lower price than domestic production, which is high caused from lack of fingerlings and fish meals which imported. Albanian market request for these productions brought the necessity of increasing of investments in cage culture and trout culture. High prices of the fish products and the lack of wholesale fish markets (necessary to be in every fishery area) creates to the farmers a big problem in their fish yield trading.
Reservoirs for agricultural use are distributed all over the country and can be used for aquaculture which is an important source of income and could contribute to poverty alleviation. In the context of the policies designed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Directorate of Fisheries to reduce poverty, a specific programme for the reactivation of reservoirs for fishing has been started, integrating agriculture with pond aquaculture. The government is playing a crucial role in increasing integrated aquaculture in rural areas, using the aquaculture component of the Pilot Project of Fishery Development of the World Bank. This support is channelled through inland water FMOs (Fishery Management Organizations) and consists of supplying a part of the fingerlings required for their restocking. In another initiative the government, in its license conditions for inland water bodies, has fixed a minimum figure for production of fingerlings per hectare to ensure the implementation of the concept of sustainability and to guarantee the future of permanent supplies. This is a good way of protecting the fishery reserves of inland waters, as well as reducing poverty.
The lack of hatcheries for the production of marine fingerlings obliges Albanian farmers to import them, mainly from Greece. In order to facilitate imports, parallel with the support policies for fingerling production, minimizing the custom tasks of the fingerling imports remains a priority. In trout aquaculture, some farmers have started the production of fingerlings, largely for their own use rather than for sale to others.
In Albania the administration of the fishery and aquaculture sector is centralized and based in article 9 of the Albanian law "On fishery and aquaculture", Regulation No 1 dated 29.03.2005, for application of the legislation on fisheries and aquaculture.
Aquaculture policy is currently included in the Fishery Sector Development Strategy, as part of the Green Strategy The Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Plan is a financial instrument with the purpose of distributing the available funds to fulfil the objectives of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Administration Plan. The Fisheries and Aquaculture Administration Plan for 2010 - 2013 is under approvation.
The Directory of Water and Fisheries, within the General Directorate of Policies, is responsible for central fisheries administration functions, and is comprised of one supervisor and two specialists. It provides government oversight of two hatcheries, and the Fish Capture and Mussel Cultivation Enterprise located in Sarandë, part of the government fisheries e states (ports, fishing centers, etc.). The Enterprise employs 16 persons located in all four Albanian fishing ports and Sarandë.
The Albanian law N 7908 "On Fishery and Aquaculture" assumes all the principles of the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. In Albania there is no separate law for aquaculture, but is included in the law N 7908 "On fishery and aquaculture." This law is the same for both central and local government. In evaluating Law 7908 of 5.4.1995 from a multifaceted perspective, it is clear that the law does not fully reflect basic EU legislation. For this reason, and taking into consideration all the latest developments in EU legislation and issues that are not covered by the current law, development of a new law is needed. Although steps have been taken during recent years to overcome deficiencies in the law through the issuance of regulators, these steps are not as effective as the enactment of law. Ministry Regulations have limited obligatory power over institutions that do not belong to the Ministry.
Accordingly, the intent is to draft two new laws, one each for fisheries and aquaculture, during 2010. The new laws will solve all of the issues addressed above, and enable the development of the maritime sector during future years. To this end, technical assistance has been requested from TAIEX experts, and for IPA 2008, starting in January 2010. The draft laws are under preparation and will be ready by the end of 2010.
Article 27 of Law No 7908 of 5.4.1995, and DCM No 547 of 13.5.2009 govern development of aquaculture activity. Natural or legal persons involved in inland and maritime aquaculture development on state properties are subject to the procedures of public competition. The MEFWA or the state property representatives sign a lease contract with the winner of the competition. Competition is not required cases when the land is in private ownership.
Leases are signed only when a proposed project has a positive influence on development of the Albanian economy and does not have a negative effect on the environment. The issued permits or environmental authorizations determine environmental conditions for conduct of a given activity. The permit is issued only upon completion of the necessary environmental and administrative review procedures. Procedures and costs associated with leasing by water categories is determined by Decision of the Council of Ministers No 547 of 13.5.2009.
The Fishery and Aquaculture Sector, within the Directorate of Water and Fishery Policies, is responsible for:
Until 2007, the Fisheries Research Institute was under the jurisdiction of the responsible Ministry. The Institute, financed by the Ministry, conducted projects in two main areas: evaluating fish reserves at sea, and the aquaculture sector. In 2007, under the regulatory reform of research institutions undertaken by the Albanian Government, the Institute was transformed into the Laboratory of Fisheries and Aquaculture, under the jurisdiction of the Agricultural University of Tirana. This reorganization has created certain difficulties in the monitoring of fishery resources.
Upon the advice of the Commission for Scientific and Technological Coordination (Article 10 of Law No 7908 of 5.4.1995), scientific research activities within Albanian waters are subject to an authorization from the Ministry responsible for fisheries. The Ministry may recognize as a research entity any private entity that submits a request, based on verification of qualifications and capacity (Article 11 of Law No 7908 of 5.4.1995). To qualify as a research entity, the applicant must be a legal entity and show evidence that the staffs satisfy qualification requirements in the relevant fields of expertise (Article 12 of Regulation No1 of 29.3.2005).
Other institutions are the Hydrometeorology Institute, the Veterinary Research Institute, the Agriculture University of Tirana and the Institute of Statistics (INSTAT).
Marine aquaculture has shown a large expansion in production in Albania over the past few years. It provides an important source of high quality food and could be considered an important management tool to limit the pressure on wild fish stocks which are heavily stressed due to over fishing and pollution in coastal areas. The degree of interaction between aquaculture and the environment depends on the sensitivity of the ecosystem in which it is implemented, on the culture system, and on the species. As a result of these interactions and of the growing public concern over environmental problems, the choice of sites for aquaculture operations is becoming more important. However, in Albania, the impact of aquaculture on social conditions has not been studied sufficiently.
One of the priorities of the Fishery Directorate for the future is the preparation and promulgation of an Aquaculture Law. This is necessary because Albania has a vast potential for aquaculture development, given its many water resources, together with aqua culturists with the requisite experience and expertise. Regional collaboration will give coherence to future developments in this field. Given the social and economic importance of this activity, the preparation of legislation act together with a strategic plan for aquaculture, based on the realities in the country, is a major goal of the Albanian government. The main challenge faced by the government is to ensure that aquaculture follows the principles of sustainable development, as in the case of other forms of fishing. It will be necessary to harmonize public and private investments so as to overcome the present difficulties, especially in feed production, as well as in producing fish for consumption at a low cost. In parallel with this it is also necessary to resolve the problems relating to fish trading and marketing to increase the farmers' incomes from this activity. Another priority should be the sharing and exchange of experience and expansion of new technologies along with providing the aqua culturists with scientific information and training.
Competition for space is one of the most critical factors of the relationship between aquaculture and other activities. Land-based aquaculture systems interact naturally with all other developed activities on the seashore and especially with developments related to urbanization, industrial development, tourism and agriculture activities. However, competing uses of areas required for sea-based aquaculture such as fishing zones, spawning areas, nurseries, artificial reefs, access to harbours, military zones, land reclamation, protected or reserved zones, dredging and entertainment and leisure activities such as bathing, sailing or sports fishing may be arranged and resolved through regulations which delimit the possibilities for site selection. The integrated development of coastal areas is now the necessity, while ensuring that negative and irreversible consequences areavoided.
So far, conflicts between aquaculture and fisheries, either on-site competition in the coastal area, or in fish marketing and trade, have not been observed, perhaps because marine aquaculture is a new activity and is concentrated in limited areas, particularly along the southern coast in Vlora and Saranda. The development of freshwater aquaculture is in harmony and coordinated with traditional fisheries, particularly due to the fact that the fingerlings produced are those used for restocking these waters. The fingerlings consist of carp family species that feed on grass and plankton (for lakes and reservoirs) and indigenous trout for Ohrid Lake . The greatest problem for aquaculture is connected with the imports of fingerlings of seabass and seabream, mainly from Greece and Italy, which results in artificially high prices of cultivated fish.
Given this situation it should be emphasized that there is a need to study the economic and social impact of aquaculture in Albania, including its effects on poverty reduction and provision of high quality nutrition, because there is a great potential for further development, for which will be imperative:
Data sources from:
Directorate of Water & Fisheries Management in Ministry of Environment, Forestry & Water Administration.
Institute of Statistics (INSTAT).