replaces: Arabic version (2006), Spanish version (2006), French version (2006), Chinese version (2006)
Aquaculture is currently a significant activity and has a great potential for development in the future, interweaving social, economic, biological, ecological and environmental aspects.
During the previous political regime (before years 1990s), 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 Russian and 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 of 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 indicates the one of the highest population growth rates in Europe. In countries such as Albania, the aquaculture can contribute in the poverty alleviation by combining the introduction of new commercial species and technologies with less expensive cultivated species.
Coastal lagoons have 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 fishing society who is licensed to use artisanal fishing activity by fish-weir, has been encouraged to built ponds for fattening the juveniles trapped (in fish weirs) during the fishing season in the lagoon, until they reach marketable size. This measure aimed to 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 tones/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 open sea, by floating lines.
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. The stocking by carp family species has been carried out from government.
Natural Lakes, like Ohrid Lake is one of the lakes where by using “korani” fingerlings restocking are carried out successfully, also. It is stocked through the Lini hatchery, where artificial reproduction of Salmo letnica has been carried out since 1965, and which currently stocks nearly million of larvae and fingerlings every year. In 2005, by financial support of the World Bank through the Pilot Project of Fishery Development, this centre was modernized which restocks the Ohrid Lake annually with autochthonous ohrid trout fingerlings and larvae. The seed materials (larvae and fingerlings) are produced under controlled systems, starting from the eggs collected from the maturation natural brood stock from the lake by specialized fishermen The Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Water Administration is responsible for the management and financial support of this hatchery.
The same restocking policy is pursued here for Prespa Lake, with government support. Every year this hatchery produces about 400 000 indigenous carp larvae and fingerlings which are used to restock Prespa Lake. 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.
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 Cyprinid 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 Elbasani and Fieri. Their production varies from 500 to 600 tonnes per year.
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 and Vlora inland waters and lagoons. Their task is to manage fisheries in general. 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.
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 favorable 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.
These cultured species are important in the areas where they are cultivated. The trout centers are developed mainly in south-east and north of 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 waters of Albania, mainly in the rural areas. Except of common carp, the others have 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.
Agricultural water reservoirs were built between 1960s and 1980s, mainly for irrigation purposes.Fish culture called reservoir fishery in this report is practiced in the lowlands where climate is Mediterranean. There are 136 agricultural water reservoirs which are leased out. Their total water surface is 3 413 ha (about 25ha/reservoir) and their total fish production is 1 915 tonnes/year (about 560 kg/ha/yr.). It is about 25.7 percent of the total fish production of Albania. This production is obtained with a relatively high stocking density of about 900 fingerlings/ha. Before 1992 these water bodies were intensively stocked, manured and fed therefore their average production was much higher than 1 tonne/ha. It is because fish farming in agricultural reservoirs was integrated with animal production which through continuous by gravity supply of fresh manure ensured the high natural fish food production of the reservoirs. In addition to intensive manuring, common carp was also fed. Before 1991 fish culture and irrigation were harmonised, but today the actual use of water generates serious conflicts of interest between the leaseholders and the farmers who use the water for irrigation.
Carp farming was the most widespread aquaculture practice in Albania, and has built up a strong base of experience. The biotechnology used in poly-culture 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 column. 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 and its surroundings.
There are a total of 57 rainbow trout fish farms which is 20.4 percent of all inland and lagoon fishery and aquaculture enterprises. Out of the 19 (33.3 percent) has also hatchery facilities. The total water surface area of the tanks is 52 560 m2 (an average of 922 m2/farm). The total production volume of tanks is 55 830 m3 (an average of about 980 m3/farm). Trout fish farms produce rainbow trout a total of 676 tonnes of fish (about 5 percent of the total fish production of Albania) which is about 12 kg/m3 fish production. The average feed conversion ration (FCR) is rather good (1.4). The main areas when the trout cultivation is mostly are: Saranda, Tepelena, Pogradec, Librazhd, Dibra, Tropoja, consisting in small scale to medium scale and the product destination is for familiar to local consumption.
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 1990s. 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. The bivalve mollusk cultivation is an important culture also in open sea by floating units. In Shengjini Bay is operating one subject extending his facilities into 100 ha under cultivation of Mediterranean mussel.
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.There are 23 marine cage farms, all of them situated in the Ionic Sea. They produce sea bream and sea bass. Their total water surface area is 73 840 m2, and their production volume is 1 872 100 m3 (an average of about 81 000 m3/farm). Their total yearly production is 3 077 tonnes (about 41 percent of the total fish production of Albania) which comparing to the huge volume of available production space seems to be too little (1.6 kg/m3). However the relatively high FCR (2.0) indicates reduced efficiency.
Until now, 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. Tthe establishment of a sea bass and sea bream hatchery and nursery is imperative as they are importing of these two products and artificially increases the cost of the final fish produced.
Lagoon production There are 20 lagoon fishery enterprises, which are active on a total of 13 179 ha as some of them partly overlap each other. The mode of catching fish is trapping with weirs set at the moth of the inflowing water currents. Their total yearly production is about 380 tonnes of fish (about 5 percent of the total fish production of Albania).
General problems reported by lagoon fishers are:
Although there are only 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 near 1 million larvae and fingerlings of autochthon salmon (ohrid trout, Salmo letnica) to restock Ohrid Lake. The Zvezda hatchery produces about 400 000 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 Agriculture, Rural Development & Water Administration with the same purpose; restocking Ohrid and Prespa Lakes.
The graph below shows total aquaculture production in Albania according to FAO statistics:
In the north of the country there is a market for trout and carp, specifically more in those cities such as Shkodra, where these products make the traditional cuisine. On the east-north of the country it is more traditional the marketing and cooking of pike-perch (Sander lucioperca) which here is made differently. On the east of the country, at Prespa and Ohrid lake in Pogradec, the autochthonous salmon called “Koran” (Salmo letnica) is the popular fish.The price of fishes varies according to species and the season. During winter the demand goes up as quality is better and more guaranteed compared to other seasons of the year. Regarding the south of the country, there is a market for sea bass and sea bream, where the good water quality ensures a better environment for producing a higher quality of fish. Regarding the market conditions in big cities such as Tirana and Durres, they can be considered relatively good, according the EU standards. However, very often are noticeable private sellers on the streets whose trade lacks of hygiene hence the quality of offered fish is often very low. This phenomenon is going to be less and less since the Control Authorities (Food Control Authority) is making high pressure by physical controls and penalties.
Related to the consumers demand, a relatively high, about 30 percent of the population in Albania prefers aquaculture products. But price is a prime factor to be considered at buying fish. The price of inland fishes (species of the carp family) is much lower than the price of sea fishes; therefore they are more affordable for the less well-to-do people.
The marine fisheries sector runs under a general crisis. It shows not only a general decrease of the sea fish production, but also it does not make a competition for the species which are cultivated inland, as well as for those species which are fished in lower quantities according to the actual market demand. However some strong points which justify the importance of sea aquaculture are:
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 channeled 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.
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 fulfill the objectives of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Administration Plan. The Fisheries and Aquaculture Administration Plan for 2010 - 2013 is under approval.
There are general recommendations which could improve the sustainable long-term development of the subsectors. These aresummarised below.Recovering from the informality of the existing, but not operating pond fish farms and facilitating the restart of their production. Stimulating the establishment and extension of new fish farms in the north of Albania, in order to provide,cheep/diversified food, as well as facilitate income generation and employment in thepoorer areas.Rationalization and intensification of the production in inland and marine waters:
In Albania, this process has been ruled by Law No.7809, of date 5.4.1995 “On fishery and aquaculture”. By this law till 200 9Fishery Inspectorate was under Fishery Directorate, acting not only as forced structure but more as Fishery Directorate representatives in the different districts to transmit the management policies in the field and providing for directorate (statistical unit) all necessary data from field and from fisheries and aquaculture operators, in marine and inland areas. The organization aspects of Fishery Directorate have been changed, by regulatory reform undertaken from government in 2009 and then (the end of 2013) this authority has been transferred from Ministry of Environment to Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development & water Administration. The Control Structures is organized in another Directorate within the Ministry, divided from Fishery Directorate. In other hand, by the same reform, the aquaculture centre’s, on private land are not obligated to apply for license.
This category is totally out of monitoring and observing, since nobody know that they exists, not mentioning the production, environmental, social and economical data’s, so important for aquaculture analyzing and planning.
In other hand, promulgating a new law “On Aquaculture” (in final phase), reflecting all EU directives, needs of a “rearward” structure to observe and monitor all fishery and aquaculture activities and to transmit the resulting data to the processing data and planning unit within Fishery Directorate. This structure, actually doesn’t exist, but is foreseen to be established in a frame of new laws and by laws, as approach of UE Regulations (1543/2000 and 1639/2001), named National framework for the collection, management and use of data in the fisheries sector and is to provide support for scientific advice regarding the Albanian Fisheries Policy and a Multiannual Community Programme for the collection, management and use of data in the fisheries and aquaculture sector.
Also, the Government decided to restructurate Fishery and Aquaculture Authority to be in line with UE requests and standards. This restructuration will take place within the first half of 2015.
The Fishery and Aquaculture Policies Sector, within the Directory of Agriculture Production & Trade Policies is the responsible for:
Since Albania is rich in natural and man-made water resources which also include the largest lakes in Balkan Peninsula, culture based inland fishery and aquaculture represent real and excellent development options and potentials which can successfully interweave social, economical,biological, ecological and environmental management of entire regions.
The development potentials of the subsectors can be found in the better resources and technical management of the inland and lagoon fishery and aquaculture enterprises, as well as in the supportive and analytical administrative management of the subsectors as summarised in the coming chapters.
Fish seed production and supply
A qualitative and quantitative increase and more practical scheme of fish seed production and distribution of inland fishes is indispensible for the sector, which would cure present problem such as the unreliable availability of good quality affordable fish seed.
Today many of the earlier well functioning carp hatcheries are closed but those which still operate have problems of selling their fingerlings. In order to overcome the above problems the available farm infrastructures and capacities should be better exploited, as well as new fish seed production and distribution techniques introduced. The current practice is that only one summer old fish, called fingerling is used for stocking inland waters, even if a more water body specific stocking program could ensure better and more reliable results.
The preconditions of the elaboration and successful implementation of such stocking programs are:
Many of the new leaseholders of waters and fish farm owners need reliable specific technical knowledge on how their water bodies or fish farms could/should be managed on the best possible way which must include both physical and financial aspects. It is the practice and field oriented knowledge which is the precondition of being able to adjust to the actual production and marketconditions through identifying and utilizing own resources and opportunities.
Technical knowledge for the management of natural and artificial lakes and agricultural water reservoirs
In case of inland water bodies (natural and artificial lakes and agricultural water reservoirs) the introduction of improved sustainable fisheries management techniques would be very advantageous. These techniques should consider and harmonise not only environmental and production aspects but also profitability, which would provide steady and reliable income for the activity/enterprise. Accordingly the knowledge of applicable techniques and solutions will ensure to adjust the best possible way to the local circumstances.
Technical knowledge of trout farming and related income generating activities
There are an increasing number of trout farms, for which the environment of many of the mountainous regions of Albania is very suitable. Though these farms has a rather good results their fish seed supply with quality fingerlings could be improved through improving both the efficiency and reliability of already widely practiced propagation of trout. Reported results suggest that the production of existing trout farm have not reached their upper limits. It is because there is no demand for more unprocessed trout. Hence processing (gutting, filleting, smoking etc.) of produced fish could help to boost demand hence production. Another way of stimulating trout farming industry is the increased tourism, which call for more restaurants where trout is also served, as well as facilitates the diversification of recreational programs through angling tourism. The preconditions of such, above outlined development are the extensive introduction of practical knowledge on trout production and processing, as well as on trout farming based angling tourism.
Improvement of the management of inland and lagoon fishery and aquaculture subsectors
Improved sustainable production of waters and fish farms can not be expected without the overall improvement of their sectors’ management. This becomes possible only if the managing GOs possess those key information and data which are indispensible to assist, guide and control the sector. Accordingly reliable production related data makes possible:
Visit and survey of water bodies and fish farms, as well as the discussions with interviewed owners and leaseholders proved that practice oriented technical knowledge which helps sustainable production and development of subsectors in general and of production units in particular is needed in Albanian. It is because either such information published earlier should be adjusted (updated) to the present political, social and economic conditions of the country or because they are hardly (or not at all) available in Albanian language.
Deficiencies of the aquaculture statistical system in Albanian
Fisheries and aquaculture management relies on the availability of accurate data. Responsible sector planning is another important task of the fishery authorities. Therefore they need integral and detailed information which can be provided only through a reliable monitoring system. This is one of the reasons that FAO-REU supported the elaboration of database of inland and lagoon fishery and aquaculture enterprises which facilitates understanding the real situation of these subsectors and the proper management of them.
There are general recommendations which could improve the sustainable long-term development of the subsectors. These are summarised below.
Promotion of the cooperation of leaseholders of water bodies and owner of fish farms in the frame of civil organizations (associations) is another issue with which the government could support efficiently the development of the sector.
In addition there are specific issues which could immediately contribute to the development of the subsectors, specifically:
Support to the technical development of the aquaculture sector
There is a set of three different actions which could support efficiently the technical development of the aquaculture sector. These are:
There are two actions which implemented together could ensure the efficient support to the administration and monitoring of the sector. These are:
The elaborated database is only the first step of the development of the aquaculture statistics in Albania. It is because it will remain useful only if it would be yearly updated, similarly to all EU countries, by the responsible owner/leaders of the concerned organizations and enterprises. The range of data recommended to be supplied by each of the organizations and enterprises would be filled in and submitted on the questionnaire titled “Proposed fisheries statistic sheet for inland and lagoon fishery and aquaculture enterprises of Albania”. This questionnaire, which is very similar to that one used for the preparation of the database, will contain all of those data and information which both production and sector management should know and analyse. Some of the data should obviously treated confidential which the rest of them and their summaries could be published.
The steps of the data collection would be:
FAO UNJP/ALB/013/UNJ project titled “Harmonization with the EU Legislation of Technical Measures for the Albanian Marine Fishery and Aquaculture Development Potential in Albania”.