Aquaculture in Poland is part of the inland fisheries sector and consists exclusively of the rearing and culture of freshwater fish, primarily carp (300 farms) and trout (160 farms). In addition to aquaculture activities, inland fisheries comprises commercial lake and river fisheries, as well as recreational angling in inland waters. Until the mid 1980s, commercial lake and river fisheries made the largest contribution to the production of freshwater fish, whereas from the early 1990s freshwater production came to be dominated by fish originating from aquaculture. In the period 2000–2003 more than 67 percent of inland fisheries production came from aquaculture – mainly carp and trout. Twenty-six percent came from angling, whereas only 6 percent came from commercial lake and river fisheries. Total inland fisheries production in 2003 was estimated to be approximately 54 400 tonnes (MARD, 2005). More than 90 percent of the fish produced by aquaculture and caught by commercial lake fishermen is sold. More than half of the catch from angling meets the personal consumption requirements of the anglers' families.
In addition to the production of fish for consumption, Polish aquaculture produces stocking material for migratory (anadromous), rheophilous and predatory fish. The rising demand noted in recent years for this type of material has provided an impetus for the development of fish farms and the modernization of hatcheries and rearing facilities.
Most of the fish produced by Polish aquaculture supplies the domestic market. The principle fish for export is rainbow trout: 17–24 percent of domestic production is exported, primarily to Germany. Nearly all the trout exported is processed. Three thousand one hundred and fifty tonnes were exported in 2003 at a value of US$ 20.87 million. Carp exports remain low and in the period 1995–2003 accounted for 0.4–2.7 percent of domestic production: 250 tonnes were exported in 2003.
The Polish aquaculture sector is operated by professionally trained personnel. There is a well-developed education system for fisheries and aquaculture.
Increases have been noted in freshwater aquaculture production in Poland due to increased trout production and stabilized carp catches. Further development of Polish freshwater aquaculture faces a range of ecological, economic, technological and social obstacles. These are largely the result of the transformation that has taken place in Poland from a centrally planned to a market economy. European Union (EU) accession has also had implications for the sector. Poland has developed a National Strategy for the Development of Fisheries in 2007–2013 and includes priorities for developing the sector. Aquaculture is important for the social and economic development in rural Poland.
Historically and to date, only freshwater aquaculture has been practiced in Poland. The oldest traces of pond building date back to the eleventh century. These ponds were usually small basins located at monasteries and served mainly for holding fish. They were also used to rear species such as Northern pike, tench, crucian carp, and European eel. The development of pond culture began in the later sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries when carp production was initiated in Poland. Following the partition of Poland at the end of the eighteenth century, economic policy came under the control of the partitioners – Russian Federation, Germany, and Austria – and very clear differences developed in the pond culture of the three regions of occupied Poland. For example, under Austrian partition in the south of Poland there was considerable development in the culture of carp. This was due to the implementation of the so-called nursery ponds method, which is still practiced today. Prior to the outbreak of World War II in 1938, the surface area of ponds was 88 755 ha. By 1945 it had fallen to 66 525 ha. It is now estimated to be 51 700 ha. Carp currently dominates Polish aquaculture with a stable production of approximately 20 000 tonnes produced on 300 commercial farms. Carp is also produced on a small-scale (usually several tens to several hundreds of kilogrammes annually) on farms where the principle agricultural interest lies elsewhere. It is difficult to estimate the amount produced, but its share of total production of this species is not significant.
Rainbow trout, a non-indigenous species which was introduced in the second half of the nineteenth century, is of great importance to Polish aquaculture. The beginnings of rainbow trout pond culture date back to 1904. Following World War II in the late 1940s interest in this species grew. A significant increase in the production of rainbow trout began in the 1980s and since this period, growth in the production of this species has been consistent (from 2 000 tonnes in 1980 to 12 600 tonnes in 2003).There are currently approximately 160 trout farms with an annual production exceeding 20 tonnes.
The share of aquaculture in the production of freshwater fish in Poland is increasing systematically. In 2003 the quantity of production was 36 600 tonnes at a value of US$ 81 million (MARD, 2005).
In 2003 the number of people employed in inland fisheries, including those working full-time in aquaculture, was estimated at 4 500. A similar number was employed seasonally during the spring and autumn fish harvests. It is estimated that approximately 12 000 people are employed in jobs related to fisheries and angling. There are approximately 1 500 firms which provide angling related services in Poland, and there are approximately one million active anglers, of whom 600 000 are currently members of the Polish Angling Association (MARD, 2005).
A significant number of fish farms apply a multiple tract exploitation model (commercial exploitation of open waters – lakes, rivers, and dam reservoirs), pond carp production, pond trout production. For this reason it is difficult to determine employment figures in this sector.
An average trout farm that produces 100 tonnes employs four to five employees. In 2003 the largest farm employed about 70 people and produced approximately 1 100 tonnes of trout. There is a total of 160 trout farms, of which 90 percent are private, 7 percent are employee cooperatives and 3 percent are leased from the state.
Training in topics related to fisheries and aquaculture is available at vocational, secondary and university levels.
Trout farms are generally distributed in the north on the Baltic Sea coast and in southern Poland in the Carpathian foothills in rich terrain with clear, cool waters. Although carp farms are distributed throughout Poland, the larger facilities are located in central and southern Poland where climatic conditions are warmer and thus more advantageous.
The surface area of carp ponds in Poland is 51 700 ha, of which 10 percent, or approximately 7 000 ha, is disused. Of all carp ponds, 55 percent are privately owned, while the remainder are state property (leased and administered). The size of carp farms ranges from several hectares to 1 777 ha (average 232 ha; median 97.5 ha).
The dominant fish species in Polish aquaculture is common carp (Cyprinus carpio ), of which approximately 20 000 tonnes of marketable fish are produced annually. This is probably the largest quantity produced in Europe and constitutes approximately 15 percent of European production. Herbivorous fish are also produced in polyculture with carp. They include grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idellus ), bighead carp (Aristichthys nobilis ), wels catfish (Silurus glanis ), tench (Tinca tinca ) and Prussian carp (Carassius gibelio ).
Carp farms produce material for stocking open waters exploited by the Polish Angling Association and other leaseholders. Mainly rheophilous and predatory fish material is produced including Northern pike (Esox lucius ), zander (Sander lucioperca ) and wels catfish (Silurus glanis ). Polish carp pond fishery is an effective tool which can be used to protect indigenous ichthyofauna (fish of the region) and to maintain aquatic ecosystem biodiversity.
The culture of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss ) is developing dynamically in Poland. In addition to trout, these farms produce material for stocking open waters, mainly rivers. The more important species include Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar ), sea trout (Salmo trutta trutta ), common whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus lavaretus ), brown trout (Salmo trutta fario ), huchen (Hucho hucho ) and grayling (Thymallus thymallus ). Trout farms produce more than a million salmon stocking items, 5 million sea trout, 5 million brown trout, 1 million whitefish, and 0.5 million grayling. This material was used to stock the Baltic Sea and rivers. As a result of the stocking, which was state funded, successful conservation programmes for salmon and sea trout were carried out.
There is growing interest in Poland in the North African catfish (Clarias gariepinus ). This species is produced in facilities with recirculating systems. The intense production of wels catfish is developing dynamically as methods are mastered for the artificial spawning and intense fattening of this species in recirculating systems. The development of Acipenseridae production is promising (recirculating systems, trout and carp farms).
The share of the most important fish species produced in aquaculture in the period 2000–2003 was as follows:
Several farms produce carp, sturgeon, and European catfish in cages (from 3–30 m³, 600 cages), located in electric power plant discharge canals.
The production of fish in recirculating systems is carried out at a dozen or more farms. These systems are used primarily for the production of stocking material for aquaculture and for stocking open waters.
In recent years, over 20 private farms equipped with closed water systems for the production of North African catfish have been established. The largest farm produces 60 tonnes annually and total average annual production is approximately 300 tonnes.
According to MARD data and FAO fishery statistics, total production in 2003 (FAO FishStatPlus, 2005) of fish from aquaculture in Poland was approximately 36 600 tonnes. Of this about 65 percent came from fishponds (thermophillic fish, intensive or semi-intensive rearing) and 35 percent from intensive systems, mainly rainbow trout. In the early 1980s aquaculture production was under 10 000 tonnes. Aquaculture production has grown by about 40 percent in the last 15 years. Production in the early 1990s was about 26 000 tonnes and 2003 it was about 37 000 tonnes. In the period 1991–1992 there was a distinct decline in production, primarily for carp, from 22 000 tonnes in 1990 to 13 500 tonnes in 1992. This was the result of the transformation from a centrally planned economy to a market-based one. By 2000 carp production had stabilized to the level of 20 000–22 000 tonnes, but a slight downward trend has been evident in the most recent period (2001–2002; MARD, 2000, 2002). Carp sales are seasonal, with most fish going to the domestic market in the Christmas period. Due to price stagnation of this species and rising production costs, profits made by producers are falling. As a result, the earning capacity of carp production in Poland is on the decline. Carp polyculture also produces herbivorous fish, grass carp and bighead carp (1 390 tonnes in 2003), wels catfish, tench, and Prussian carp (340 tonnes in 2003). In an effort to diversify production, carp farms have made significant headway in developing methods for producing material for stocking open waters. Data indicates that carp farms are currently involved in the culture of over 20 fish species. In addition to the production of other fish species, carp producers are aiming at widening the market range and the services they offer. Surveys indicate that 77.5 percent of carp farms sell wholesale, 68.5 pecent sell retail, 18.9 percent organize sales through special fishing grounds, 4.5 percent conduct agro-tourism, 3.6 percent are involved in food services (including fish frying restaurants) and 1.8 percent invest in their own fish processing facilities.
Trout production is developing dynamically and has grown from 2 000 tonnes in 1980 to 12 600 tonnes in 2003. The significant increase in production during this period is due to the following reasons:
The annual production of North African catfish is approximately 300 tonnes (0.5 percent of the total), and predictions are that this figure might increase to as high as 1 000 tonnes by the end of the decade. The production of Acipenseridae is estimated to be approximately 300 tonnes (0.5 percent of the total).
In 1999–2003 trout and carp farms and hatcheries produced an annual average of 2 000 tonnes of material for stocking open waters. The value of the material produced in 2003 was approximately US$ 7 million. Increasing demand for stocking material has become a key factor in the development of fish farms and the modernisation of hatcheries and rearing facilities.
The graph below shows total aquaculture production in Poland according to FAO statistics:
In 2003 the total market supply of fish for consumption (mainly marine) in Poland exceeded 400 000 tonnes. Of this the share of freshwater fish in 2002–2003 was approximately 13.5 percent. Approximately 90 percent of the market supply of freshwater fish comes from aquaculture (carp and trout). Problems with sales pose the primary threat to the Polish carp market and significantly limit the production possibilities of this species. Trout is facing increasingly strong competition from imports of Norwegian salmon, which have grown from about 1 000 tonnes in 1995 to more than 20 600 tonnes in 2003 (Seremak-Bulge et al ., 2004).
Of all the species produced by Polish aquaculture, mainly rainbow trout is exported (the majority going to Germany). In the period 1995–2003 17–24 percent of domestic trout production was exported in quantities of 1 200 tonnes (US$ 8 million) in 1995 and 3 150 tonnes (US$ 20.87 million) in 2003. Current exports consist mostly of processed trout (e.g. smoked trout). In 1995–2003 carp exports remained low and ranged from 0.4–2.7 percent of domestic production (250 tonnes in 2003) (Seremak-Bulge et al ., 2004).
The retail standards of fish trade in Poland are low and the availability of fish, especially fresh fish, is limited. Supermarket and retail chains have made significant progress in the organization of fish sales and offer customers a wide variety of fresh and processed fish. Many retail chains have signed agreements directly with larger carp and trout farms. The first fish auction, primarily for marine species, was held in Poland in 2004.
Although there is a lack of specialized fish wholesaling operations, this aspect of the market is the least problematic. The sale of fish from aquaculture is handled directly by farms. Between ninety and ninety-five percent of the production is sold wholesale, while 5–10 percent is sold retail through small outlets owned by the fish farms. Retail prices are approximately 20 percent higher than wholesale.
Freshwater fish plays only a small role in processing. The majority of processing facilities work almost exclusively with imported, marine raw materials. It should be emphasized that the development of the fish processing sector has been very dynamic since the beginning of the economic transformation in Poland.
Fish consumption in Poland is low. In the period 1995–2002 the consumption of fish and fish products comprised only 7–9 percent of total meat consumption. The average Pole consumed 10.5 kg of fish in 2003, of which 1.4 kg was freshwater fish (10–12 percent share of total consumption; carp: 0.6 kg/year/person; trout: 0.26 kg/year/person) (Seremak-Bulge et al ., 2004). The structure of freshwater fish consumption stabilized in 1999–2003 at 50 percent carp, 20 percent trout, and 30 percent other freshwater species. In comparison with 2001–2002, there was a 4.3 percent increase in consumption in 2003. However, this applies primarily to imported marine fish. Consumers prefer either fresh or frozen fish (60 percent of total consumption). Fish is consumed by wealthier consumers. Fish consumption among the wealthiest families was 250 percent higher than among those with the lowest incomes. This applied to the more exclusive species of marine and freshwater fish. The consumption of freshwater fish, including that from aquaculture, was not dependent on household social status. Freshwater fish was most popular among the retired and those receiving benefits. The low consumption of fish means that its share of household expenditure is not large. In 2001–2002 it accounted for about 3 percent of the food and 0.7 percent of the total household budgets. One of the factors that limit fish consumption is its relatively high price. Fish is one of the most expensive sources of animal protein. For example, the price of 1 kg of live trout is equal to that of 3 kg of chicken (2002–2003).
The economic value of aquaculture production in Poland is not high. In 2003 it accounted for approximately 0.5 percent of the value of total agricultural production and 1.1 percent of total animal production (SYRP, 2004). The economic significance of inland fisheries, including aquaculture, in Poland is significantly higher than this data suggests. The sector provides many benefits which are difficult or impossible to assess. These include maintaining biodiversity and restoring ichthyofauna through the production of stocking material, water retention and treatment, and the protection of aquatic ecosystems through the preservation of the habitats of valuable flora and fauna species. Fisheries also contributes to local and regional economies, especially in rural regions with high unemployment.
Aquaculture and fisheries come under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD). The Department of Fisheries is responsible for the development of marine fisheries, inland fisheries, aquaculture, and marketing. The Department is headed by a director and two vice-directors and comprises six sections: Structural Policy, Monitoring and Reporting on the Utilization of Financial Aid, Trade , Resource Management, Fisheries Administration, and Inland Fisheries (responsible for fisheries and aquaculture).
The Department of Fisheries is also responsible for:
The Polish Fisheries Association was founded in 1918 and represents fisheries interests nationally. The association was in operation from 1918 to 1939 in all fisheries areas, but was suspended following World War II. It was reformed in 1993 with the aim of consolidating the Polish fisheries community and representing the interests of fish producers. There are currently 650 members, including fish producers, lease holders, owners, and fisheries employees. The association currently consists of nine regional chapters, the strongest of which is the Chapter of Salmonid Fish Producers (a member of the Federation of European Aquaculture Producers). The aims of the association include:
In the 1990s important changes were made to the legislation governing inland fisheries and aquaculture as a result of the socio-economic transformation from a centrally planned to a market economy.
European integration and EU membership was the key political and economic goal for Poland. According to negotiations, Poland had to implement the EU's legislation in the fisheries sector by January 2002. The process of adapting legislation relating to the fish market and fisheries (including aquaculture) to European Union regulations was complete in early 2004. Poland was thus able to implement the European Union Common Fisheries Policy.
Following European Union accession in 2004, structural funding from the EU's Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG) became available for the modernization of the fisheries and aquaculture sector. The basis for taking advantage of structural funding is the Sectoral Operational Programme – Fisheries and Fish Processing 2004–2006, which outlines fisheries priorities and categorizes them according to precise goals that are to be implemented through the FIFG. Within the scope of fish breeding and rearing (aquaculture), these funds are earmarked to increase the profitability of fisheries, improve sanitary and veterinary conditions and product quality, reduce the undesirable impact of inland fisheries on the environment, and broaden and develop new techniques and technology for breeding and rearing fish and their implementation. The Agency for Restructuring and Modernizing Agriculture of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is responsible for carrying out projects on the protection and development of aquatic resources, fish breeding and rearing, processing and marketing fish products.
The Stanislaw Sakowicz Inland Fisheries Institute (IFI) is the leading research and development facility and was founded in 1951. It comes under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The activities of the institute are connected specifically with research and development projects in the following fields:
Currently, about half of the funding for the IFI comes from the state, while the rest is earned independently by the institute. Expenditure on science in Poland is extremely modest, and in recent years has been well below 1 percent of GNP (0.56 percent of GNP in 2003). From an economic point of view, the fisheries and aquaculture sector is small, which is why research contracts between scientific institutions and fish farms are rare. Some research projects are funded by competitive grants offered by the Ministry of Scientific Research and Information Technology.
Fisheries research plans in fishing and aquaculture are determined and verified continuously by the IFI. Research projects are evaluated by the IFI Scientific Council and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The latter sets research priorities for the entire agriculture sector. Research priorities for the fisheries and aquaculture sector reflect the agricultural development strategy. Regular meetings are held with representatives of the IFI, the Polish Fisheries Association and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (Fisheries Department) to determine the research areas that are particularly significant to the development of fisheries and aquaculture.
There is a well-developed education system for fisheries and aquaculture. Training is available at three levels: vocational (three vocational schools), secondary (three fisheries technical schools) and university (three institutions of higher education that award either the Master of Science or Engineering degrees). Doctoral programmes are offered at the universities. The Polish post-doctoral degree and the scientific titles of Professor in the field of fisheries can be awarded by the Scientific Council of the Stanislaw Sakowicz Inland Fisheries Institute and by two universities.
Poland does not breed or produce fish in the sea. Its aquaculture is based on freshwater fish, mainly carp and rainbow trout. Particular characteristics of Polish aquaculture include the fact that aquaculture is part of inland fisheries and many farms conduct other forms of economic activity (lakes exploited for fisheries, carp and trout culture, fish sales, fishing permit sales, angling fishing grounds, small fish processing facilities, and others). Despite an overall downward trend in European freshwater aquaculture production, increases have been noted in this sector in Poland due to increased trout production and stabilized carp catches. Further development of Polish freshwater aquaculture faces a range of ecological, economic, technological and social obstacles. These are largely the result of the socio-economic transformation that has taken place in Poland in recent years. European Union accession has also had implications for the sector.
In recent years Polish inland fisheries and aquaculture have generally been characterized by the following trends:
The strengths of the sector are:
The National Strategy for the Development of Fisheries in 2007–2013 includes, among others, the following priorities:
FAO . 2005 . Aquaculture production, 2003. Year book of Fishery Statistics - Vol.96/2. Food and Agriculture organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy.
FAO . 2004 . Aquaculture production, 2002. Year book of Fishery Statistics. Food and Agriculture organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy. ).
MARD, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development . 2000 . Structural policy in the fisheries sector in 2000–2006. Manuscript, Warsaw, 42 pp. (in Polish).
MARD, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development .2002 . Operational Program for Sectors – Fisheries and processing 2004–2006. Manuscript, Warsaw, 83 pp. (in Polish).
MARD, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development . 2005 . Concept in the National Strategy for the Development of Fisheries in 2007–2013. Manuscript, Warsaw, 42 pp. (in Polish).
Seremak-Bulge J. , Kuzebski E. , Pienkowska B. , Szostak S. , Hryszko K. & Drozdz J. 2004 . The fish market – its state and perspectives. Dzial Wydawnictw IERIGZ, 33 pp. (in Polish).
SYRP, Statistical Yearbook of the Republic of Poland 2004. Statistical Publishing Establishment, Warsaw.