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Part I Overview and main indicators

  1. Country brief
  2. General geographic and economic indicators
  3. FAO Fisheries statistics

Part II Narrative (2018)

  1. Production sector
    • Marine sub-sector
      • Catch profile
      • Landing sites
      • Fishing practices/systems
      • Main resources
      • Management applied to main fisheries
    • Inland sub-sector
      • Catch profile
      • Landing sites
      • Fishing practices/systems
      • Main resources
      • Management applied to main fisheries
    • Aquaculture sub-sector - NASO
    • Recreational sub-sector
  2. Post-harvest sector
    • Fish utilization
    • Fish markets
  3. Socio-economic contribution of the fishery sector
    • Role of fisheries in the national economy
    • Trade
    • Food security
    • Employment
    • Rural development
  4. Trends, issues and development
    • Constraints and opportunities
    • Government and non-government sector policies and development strategies
    • Research, education and training
      • Research
    • Foreign aid
  5. Institutional framework
  6. Legal framework
    • Regional and international legal framework
  7. Annexes
  8. References

Additional information

  1. FAO Thematic data bases
  2. Publications
  3. Meetings & News archive

Part I Overview and main indicators

Part I of the Fishery and Aquaculture Country Profile is compiled using the most up-to-date information available from the FAO Country briefs and Statistics programmes at the time of publication. The Country Brief and the FAO Fisheries Statistics provided in Part I may, however, have been prepared at different times, which would explain any inconsistencies.

Country briefPrepared: May 2019

In Albania fishing activity takes place along the entire 380 km of Albania’s coastline, including its territorial waters (12 miles from its baselines). However, fishing activity is mainly concentrated on the continental shelf, which on the Adriatic side in the north extends to 25 miles, but to only 2-4 miles on the side of the Ionian Sea.

Marine fisheries are the most important sector of the fisheries industry but lagoon and inland fisheries are also significant. Capture production in 2018 was 8 648 tonnes, with marine fisheries constituting 75 percent of the total. The Albanian fishing fleet is currently located in four ports: Durrësi, Vlora, Shëngjini and Saranda, where about 1 870 persons are employed. In addition, 1 000 fishers were directly engaged in inland fisheries in 2018. There were 1 137 commercial vessels in 2018.

In 2018 aquaculture produced 6 258 tonnes, consisting of marine fishes (77 percent), rainbow trout (13 percent) and mussels (10 percent). There are currently 24 marine fish farms for sea bass and sea bream, 22 trout farms, several enterprises that farm mussels in Lake Butrint and 4 hatcheries for carp fingerlings that are grown in inland natural and artificial reservoirs. Aquaculture provided direct employments of 620 in 2018.

In 2017 imports of fish and fishery products were valued at USD 75.7 million. Exports were worth USD 94 million, with prepared and preserved anchovies representing the bulk of exports. The consumption of fish in Albania has increased gradually and the consumption per capita is estimated to be about 5.3 kg/year in 2016.

The legislative framework for the fisheries and aquaculture sector includes several laws and by-laws. Albania is in the process of becoming an EU Candidate Country and, in this regard, is also in the process of aligning its legislation with the EU’s acquis communautaire. Several by-laws have been approved that transpose some of the principles of the Common Fishery Policy into Albanian legislation. The legislation also contains the main principles of FAO’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, and establishment of the Fishery Management Organisation for marine and inland waters has begun.

The EU is supporting the Albanian fishery sector with a EUR 2 million project “Establishing and Strengthening a Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) System for Fisheries in Albania”, which aims at increasing the capacity of the fishery inspectors and the installation of Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) devices on all vessels longer than 12 m.

The Directorate of Fisheries Policies of the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Water Administration, is responsible for managing the fisheries sector The Fishery Research Institute in Durres is responsible for fisheries research. The institute operates five fingerling production units for restocking. The main scientific activities of the Institute are fish stock assessment, study of Albania’s lagoons and their potential and the restocking of inland water bodies with fingerlings.
 
General geographic and economic indicators

Table 1 - General Geographic and Economic Data - Albania

    Source
Shelf area 6 090 km2 http://www.seaaroundus.org
Length of continental coastline 380 km https://www.eurofish.dk/albania
Fisheries GDP (year) 0.14% (estimate) United Nations Statistical Division
*Value converted by FAO as per UN currency exchange rate

Key statistics

Source
Country area28 750km2FAOSTAT. Official data, 2013
Land area27 400km2FAOSTAT. Official data, 2013
Inland water area1 350km2Computed. Calculated, 2013
Population - Est. & Proj.3.282millionsFAOSTAT. Official data, 2018
Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) area12 150km2VLIZ

Source: FAO Country Profile

FAO Fisheries statisticsTable 2 in this section is based on statistics prepared by the FAO Fishery Information, Data and Statistics Unit and disseminated in 2020. The charts are based on the same source but these are automatically updated every year with the most recent statistics.

      1995 2000 2005 2010 2015 2016 2017 2018
EMPLOYMENT (thousands) 1.28 1.69 3.12 3.75 3.79 3.79 3.79 3.49
  Aquaculture 0.09 0.14 0.25 0.40 0.44 0.44 0.44 0.62
  Capture 1.19 1.55 2.87 3.35 3.35 3.35 3.35 2.87
    Inland 0.47  0.55 1.10 1.75 1.40 1.40 1.40 1.00
    Marine 0.72 1.00 1.77 1.60 1.95 1.95 1.95 1.87
                     
FLEET(thousands boats) 0.55 0.146 0.245 0.28 0.62 0,62 0.564 1.138
                     
Source: FAO Fishery and Aquaculture Statistics  
1) Due to roundings total may not sum up  
Title: Table 2 — FAO fisheries statistics - Albania



Please Note:Fishery statistical data here presented exclude the production for marine mammals, crocodiles, corals, sponges, pearls, mother-of-pearl and aquatic plants.

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Updated 2018Part II Narrative

Part II of the Fishery and Aquaculture Country Profile provides supplementary information that is based on national and other sources and that is valid at the time of compilation (see update year above). References to these sources are provided as far as possible.

Production sectorAlbania is a country rich in water resources, with a coastline of 380 km. Albania has six islands in the Mediterranean, all very small and uninhabited. Fishing activity takes place along the entire coastline, including its territorial waters (12 miles from its baselines). However, fishing activity is mainly concentrated on the continental shelf, which on the Adriatic side in the north extends to 25 miles, but to only 2–4 miles on the side of the Ionian Sea.

Since 1991, Albania has experienced a transitional phase from the centralized communist regime towards a free market economy which has affected all the sectors, including the fisheries and aquaculture sector.

Marine sub-sectorCatch profileThe fisheries sector is still in transition despite significant development and processing capacities inherited from the past. Marine fisheries are divided into professional industrial fisheries and professional artisanal fisheries. Differentiation between industrial and artisanal fisheries is based on the type of fishing gear used by license holders. All forms of trawling and purse seining, regardless of the technical characteristics of the nets that are used, are considered as commercial fishing activities. Commercial fishery also entails all fishing activities for economic purposes.

Landing sitesThe fishing fleet is concentrated in the four fishing ports of Saranda, Vlora, Durres, and Shengjin.

Fishing practices/systemsArtisanal fishery covers all forms of fishing activities by means of fixed and selective gear such as hooks, fixed nets, trammel nets, and gill nets. About 40% of the vessels in the fleet are small polyvalent vessels less than 6 meters long.

The industrial fleet with vessels above 12m represents about 43% of the landings. Trawlers are the main fishing vessels, which are generally more than 35 years old. These trawlers date back from the time when Albania was catching mainly demersal fish for fresh export to the European Union (EU) (Italy). As a consequence, no pelagic fisheries were developed so far.

Main resourcesDemersal species are the main species exploited by the Albanian marine fisheries, however the resources are under stress. The depleting numbers show that wild seabass is being overfished. Hake (Merluccius merluccius) and deep sea rose shrimp (Parapenaeus longirostris) are among the main species caught, and their resource situation is not very good. In recent years, Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus) became an important product, mainly going to the Italian market. Marine catches are about 6 000 tonnes per year.

Management applied to main fisheriesThe coastal waters up to three miles from shore are reserved for small-scale fishing and large-scale fleets are not legally allowed to fish in this area. There are minimum mesh sizes imposed for each net type.

Management objectivesThe management objective is to promote sustainable fisheries. The overall objective is to increase the contribution of the fisheries sector to the economic development of Albania by improving the management and protection of fishery resources in line with the EU Common Fishery Policy

Management measures and institutional arrangementsThe Directorate of Fishery Service and Aquaculture is in charge of enforcing fisheries management plans. In the accession process to the EU, Albania needs to further align its fishery legislation with the EU acquis and ensure a consistent management of fishing and aquaculture activities in order to achieve more economic, social and employment benefits.

Inland sub-sectorCatch profileIn Albania, there are 247 natural lakes with a total surface area of 1 210 sq. km, and eight main lagoons with a total area of 10 000 ha. Inland fisheries production is important, almost equaling the one of marine fisheries.

Landing sitesFishing takes place mainly in five lakes, four of which are large cross border lakes, Shkodra, Ohrid, and the major and minor Prespa lakes.

The Shkodra Lake is the largest of the four and the fishery is managed by the local fishery management organisation (FMO). There are 210 members (subjects) in the FMO, each of which comprises two people and one boat. Members are allotted a certain part of the lake in which they can fish, but they can apply to the FMO to change the area if they wish to move to another part. One of the most valuable species caught in the Shkodra Lake is carp. The FMO has taken the responsibility of selling the fish on the market and is also in the process of building and equipping a processing factory to create a range of value-added products (gutted fish, fillets, smoked fish and fillets).

Fishing practices/systemsAbout 1 000 fishers using gillnets, beach nets, and hooks are active in inland waters.

Main resourcesCarps and roaches are the most important resource of the inland fisheries.

Management applied to main fisheriesThe objectives of fisheries management are to protect resource and promote sustainable fisheries. Harpoons are strictly illegal on Lake Skadar. So is fishing with electricity, spear guns or dynamite. All means of fishing, including rods and nets, are outlawed during the spawning season between mid-March and mid-May.

The fisheries law calls for the creation of co-management areas (that are jointly managed by the administration and the fishers), in these areas fishers will take the protection of inland fisheries resources into their own hands.

Aquaculture sub-sectorAlbania aquaculture production is around 4 400 tonnes, the majority being marine finfish species, and the remainder of the production composed by inland finfish species and molluscs. Some declines have reported in recent years.

About ten species are cultivated, of which the main ones are rainbow trout, mussel, and cyprinids. These are grown in water reservoirs, artificial and natural lakes, as well as in coastal lagoons.
Fish farmers use different, intensive, semi-intensive, and extensive cultivation techniques to grow primarily trout, mussels, and carp.

Intensive aquaculture systems have been applied for polyculture of carp species, based on foodstuff preferences of fish species using different water layers for living and feeding. These techniques have been used for trout culture in a few cases as well. Semi-intensive aquaculture systems have been expanded in the Albanian aquaculture sector during the past several decades, while extensive and/or small-scale aquaculture presents diverse varieties in Albania, and are deployed around the country from coastal lagoons (11 000 ha), agriculture reservoirs (27 000 ha surface), artificial lakes (7 000 ha) and natural lakes (25 000 ha).

Marine cage culture activities are concentrated in the Ionian Sea where 26 operators farm gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata) and European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax).

Mussels (Mytilus galloprovincialis) cultivation is concentrated in the Butrinti lagoon with some activity also in the open sea at Shengjini Bay (around 100 ha with floating lines) with a yearly production of 1 400 tonnes. 

Trout farming in raceways is concentrated in the southeast of Albania, where about 60 companies have their facilities. Most of them try to hold down costs by allowing the fish to reproduce naturally. Cultivation of the endemic fish koran (Salmo letnica) is restricted to the area near lake Ohrid. A few hatcheries are involved in the cultivation of common carp (Cyprinus carpio), Chinese carps such as grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idellus), bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis), and silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) for restocking purposes. Carps are farmed in ponds. Aquaculture plays an important role in the Albanian economy. The government supports restocking policy, with carp and salmon family fingerling restocking every year. During the past decade, the national aquaculture sector has been creating a new vision, structure, and technology to meet consumer demand for fish products. This creates benefits for the farmers, increasing fish consumption by the local population and facilitating local employment and economies of scale in rural areas.

While there is no production of organic aquaculture products in the country, it has a good potential to be developed given the favourable conditions of the national farming sector. However, the issues in compliance with international standards and certification of organic products are sources of difficulty for local producers.

The new law ”On Aquaculture” aims to implement AZA (Allocation Zones for Aquaculture). This is a major challenge that combines aspects of spatial planning with those of effective governance, aquaculture sustainability, and environmental friendliness, as well as taking into account the socioeconomic aspects associated with this activity. On the other hand, the preparation of AZA will avoid conflicts between other actors such as those responsible for the development of tourism, conservation of cultural heritage, maritime transport etc.

Recreational sub-sectorThe recreational sector is not developed yet in Albania.

Post-harvest sectorFish utilizationThere are six fish processing companies in Albania. Four of them produce anchovy, sardine, and other small pelagic species for export, while two are specialized in frozen fish products. The development of the aquaculture sector in the last several years has followed consumer demand from the domestic fish market, especially for marine finfish products. As in other Mediterranean countries, there is a strong demand for fresh whole fish. Some smoking is carried out with freshwater fish.

Fish marketsTo cover the domestic demand, Albania imports marine aquaculture products, mainly seabass and seabream, from Greece.

Socio-economic contribution of the fishery sectorThe fisheries sector in Albania is relatively small, but it is important from a socio-economic point of view.

Role of fisheries in the national economyThe contribution of fisheries to the GDP is estimated at 0.14%.

TradeThe main destinations for Albanian exports are Italy (80 percent of the total volume) followed by Greece (14 percent), and Macedonia (2.5 percent). Albania does not export aquaculture products, with an exception of some processed (marinated) molluscs. Albania is not allowed to export live bivalves to the EU market. Imports concentrate on salted anchovies, frozen shrimp, canned sardines and canned tuna. A good part of the salted anchovy imports goes to the processing industry, where is canned and exported. The main product among the exports are in fact canned anchovies. Import value is around US$ 75 million, while exports are around US$ 94 million. Exports is thus slightly higher than imports, mainly due to the salted anchovy processing industry.

Food securityAlbanian consumers have traditionally preferred meat and poultry products, whereas fish is consumed to a limited extent mostly in the coastal regions of the country. About 30 percent of the population in Albania is estimated to prefer aquaculture products. In general, the prices for inland fish species (carps) are lower than the price for marine fish species. Farmed trout is sold only on the domestic market, while marine fish are mostly exported to the EU market and Balkan countries.In recent years, the national average household consumption of fish and seafood has fluctuated with a tendency to decrease but stayed low at about 3.5-5.5 kg per capita per year.

EmploymentThe fisheries sector in Albania a significant source of jobs in coastal and remote areas. The marine fisheries employ 1 840 persons. In addition, 1 000 fishers are directly engaged in inland fisheries. The aquaculture sector offers employment to 620 people. The processing industry employs in the majority women. On the other hand, there is no accurate data on indirect employment of women that besides household or farm work are mostly engaged in the ancillary services like fishing net repair and maintenance, inland aquaculture and fish processing. The employment created through the fisheries sector is thus relatively low, but these jobs are often located in areas of high unemployment and socio-economic needs.

Rural developmentFisheries is locally very important, as no other employment is available in some isolated marine communities.

Trends, issues and developmentConstraints and opportunitiesThe sector embeds high growing potentials to be exploited through formulation and adoption of appropriate policies sustained by efficient investments.The age and poor status of the industrial fishing fleet is a constraint to development. The identified problems in the fishery sector reflect the general weaknesses in the Albanian administration. Lack of human resources, lack of capacities in policy and legislative development and a complete understaffing of the fisheries division are the most important shortcomings. Resources are under stress, it is thus essential to increase the awareness of stakeholders and general public, including business and consumer associations and civil society regarding the protection of the fishery resources against illegal, unregulated and uncontrolled fishing and also of demographic and environmental hazards to the sector.The 3 miles zone for exclusive use of small-scale fishers is not always respected. Many large-scale fishing fleets, mainly trawlers, come as close as 500 meters from the coast. The competition is clearly a threat. These trawlers dredge the seabed, destroying the habitat. Furthermore, as these large fleets grind their way along the seabed, they often destroy the fishing nets of small-scale fishers. This is devastating for these poorer fisherfolk for whom fishing gear is a significant expense, and critical in supporting their livelihoods.  One main reason is poor enforcement of the exclusively zones of small-scale fishers, the other reason is the low fine (EUR 300), which is easily earned in just one hour of fishing. More stringent enforcement is needed, and substantially higher fines. The EU has recommended, in order to project Albania towards the EU regulations, that Albania should further implement the recommendations of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), make full use of the FAO AdriaMed regional project and enhance its collaboration with the EU on the Malta MedFish4Ever declaration on the sustainability of Mediterranean fisheries.Pollution of marine and coastal waters is increasing, especially in lagoons. Most pollution comes from urban and industrial waste, sewage, and chemicals used in agriculture; in addition, the impact of climate change is seen in rising sea levels, changing ecosystems in lagoons, increased frequency and intensity of floods, introduction of alien and invasive species from warmer regions, and a decrease in some marine and coastal populations of fish and invertebrates.

Government and non-government sector policies and development strategiesThe government policy is to lift up the fisheries and aquaculture sector to EU standards, including the management of the fisheries resources.

Research, education and trainingResearchThe Fishery Research Institute in Durres is responsible for fisheries research. The institute operates five fingerling production units for restocking. The main scientific activities of the Institute are fish stock assessment, study of Albania’s lagoons and their potential, and the restocking of inland water bodies with fingerlings.

Foreign aidThe EU is supporting the Albanian fishery sector with a EUR 2 million project “Establishing and Strengthening a Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) System for Fisheries in Albania”, which aims at increasing the capacity of the fishery inspectors and the installation of Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) devices on all vessels longer than 12 m. In addition to this project, a major investment project, to be financed with the EU Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA II) is in preparation, which will cover the reconversion of the old fishing fleet, expansion of fish processing plants, improve the water quality monitoring system in order to allow live bivalves exports to the EU. Scientific Cooperation to Support Responsible Fisheries in the Adriatic Sea known as AdriaMed (1999 - on) is a Regional Project of FAO funded by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policies and since 2007 by the European Commission. Some of the main objectives of the project are to:  Develop a common cognitive basis to support international processes aimed at fishery management;  Reinforce the scientific coordination among the different institutions interested in the fishing activity;  Establish a permanent network among the main institutions present in the Adriatic that are involved in fishery management activities.The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Italian Agency for Cooperation and Development (AICS) are working in collaboration with the National Agency for Protected Areas (NAPA) to ensure comprehensive and effective management of the coastal and marine environment of Albania, improve the coverage of marine and coastal protected areas throughout Albania that complement the existing system of terrestrial parks, with the main goal to secure the long-term protection of Albania’s unique coastal and marine biodiversity for current and future generations.

Institutional frameworkThe Directorate of Fishery Service and Aquaculture under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is responsible for the development of the fishery and aquaculture in the country.

Legal frameworkThe legislative framework for the fisheries and aquaculture sector includes several laws and by-laws. The main law regulating this sector is Law no 64/12 of 2012 “On Fishery”. Albania is in the process of becoming an EU Candidate Country and, in this regard, is also in the process of aligning its legislation with the EU communitarian laws. Several by-laws have been approved that transpose some of the principles of the Common Fishery Policy into Albanian legislation. The legislation also contains the main principles of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and has initiated the formation of the Fishery Management Organisation for marine and inland waters.The law on fisheries has been further completed by bylaws in full accordance with EU Regulations and GFCM recommendations. The Albanian fisheries strategy from 2016 lays emphasis on good governance, sustainability, a competitive fleet where capacity is in balance with the resource, and alignment with the relevant EU legislation.

Regional and international legal frameworkIn March 2003, Albania adhered to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). Albania acceded to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in June 2003. It is also a Party to the 1976 United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean (Barcelona Convention). Albania is member country of the International Organisation for the Development of Fisheries and Aquaculture in Europe (EUROFISH). Albania is member of the European Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture Advisory Commission (EIFAAC), the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), and the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).

AnnexesAcronyms

AICS: the Italian Agency for Cooperation and DevelopmentAZA: Allocation Zones for AquacultureCITES: Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and FaunaEIFAAC: European Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture Advisory Commission ()EU: European UnionEUROFISH: International Organisation for the Development of Fisheries and Aquaculture in EuropeGFCM: General Fisheries Commission for the MediterraneanICCAT: International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas IPA II: Instrument for Pre-Accession AssistanceMCS: Monitoring, Control and SurveillanceNAPA: National Agency for Protected AreasUNCLOS: UN Convention on the Law of the SeaUNDP: United Nations Development ProgrammeUNEP: United Nations Environment ProgramVMS: Vessel Monitoring System

ReferencesBibliographic EntryEU (2014) Studies to support the development of sea basin cooperation in the Mediterranean, Adriatic and Ionian, and Black Sea, Country Fiche AlbaniaEU (2018) Revised Indicative Strategy Paper For Albania (2014-2020) Adopted 2018Seafood Source (2018) Albanian government backs seafood sector to pursue sustainability certification

Bibliographic EntrySeeNews (2018) Albania's agriculture needs to address low expenditure, land fragmentation - EC - See more at: https://seenews.com/news/albanias-agriculture-needs-to-address-low-expenditure-land-fragmentation-ec-591360#sthash.qwHlKYDr.

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