FAO Home>Fisheries & Aquaculture
FAO of the UN
The boundaries and names shown and the designations used on this map do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of FAO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers and boundaries. Dashed lines on maps represent approximate border lines for which there may not yet be full agreement.

Part I Overview and main indicators

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

Part II Narrative (2020)

  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
      • Fishing practices/systems
      • Main resources
    • 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
  4. Trends, issues and development
    • Constraints and opportunities
    • Government and non-government sector policies and development strategies
    • Research, education and training
      • Research
  5. Institutional framework
  6. Legal framework
  7. 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: October 2020

Bulgaria encompasses a geographic area of 110 912 km2 with a population of approximately 7 million people in 2019. Its eastern region is bordered by the Black Sea and its northern region by the Danube River. The fisheries sector has three main sub-sectors, marine capture fisheries and mariculture, inland fisheries (freshwater aquaculture and fishing) and the Danube fisheries. Over 99 percent of capture fisheries production is from the Black Sea. The fishing industry in Bulgaria remains in a state of transition from a centralized to a market economy. In 2018, 1 857 vessels were reported as Bulgarian fleet. A significant challenge for Bulgaria has been to align itself with the European Union’s requirements related to the fisheries sector. In 2017, 375 full-time and 1 776 part-time fishers (all male) were reported.

In 2018 the total catch from marine fisheries reached almost 8  600 tonnes, slightly decreasing from previous catch production around 10 000 tonnes. Marine fisheries in Bulgaria originate from the Black Sea. The species composition of catches in 2018 included 37 species of fish, molluscs and crustaceans. The most important species are veined rapa whelk and European sprat which together account for about 80 percent of total production. Since August 2012, no commercial fishing has been executed in the inland waterbodies of the country, excluding the Danube River, due to an amendment in the national legislation. In 2018, the Danube River fishing fleet caught 54 tonnes of fish. Although production levels from inland fisheries are relatively low, they play an important role at the local level in less developed areas bordering the Danube River as a source of income and employment. Aquaculture in Bulgaria is reported to be 16 342 tonnes in 2018, which is 66 percent in the total fish production of 24 942  tonnes.

Bulgaria is one of the lowest per capita consumers of fish and fishery products in the European Union. Consumption is increasing but continues to be comparatively low, reaching an amount of 7.0 kg per capita in 2013.

Bulgaria is a net importer of fish and fishery products. Imports increased significantly during the last years and in 2019 reached more than USD 132 million.The majority of fish and fishery product imports are in frozen form, with the bulk being mackerel. Export values reached USD 90 million in 2019.
General geographic and economic indicators

Table 1 - General Geographic and Economic Data – Bulgaria

Shelf area 11,902 km2 http://www.seaaroundus.org
Length of continental coastline 354 km2 http://world.bymap.org
Fisheries GDP (year) USD 15.86 million UN Statistical Office

Key statistics

Country area111 000km2FAOSTAT. Official data, 2013
Land area108 560km2FAOSTAT. Expert sources from FAO (including other divisions), 2013
Inland water area2 440km2Computed. Calculated, 2013
Population - Est. & Proj.7.052millionsFAOSTAT. Official data, 2019
Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) area34 685km2VLIZ

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.

Table 2 — FAO fisheries statistics - Bulgaria

       1995  2000  2005  2010  2015  2016  2017  2018 
EMPLOYMENT (thousands)  3,10 3,10 3,10 3,39 4,08 4,14 4,69 2,78
  Aquaculture  0 0 0 0,457 0,776 1,042 1,042 1,042
  Capture  3,10 3,10 3,10 2,93 3,30 3,10 3,65 1,74
    Inland  1,62 1,62 1,62 1,5 1,5 1,5 1,5 0
    Marine  1,483 1,483 1,483 1,431 1,8 1,601 2,151 1,738
FLEET (thousands boats)  2,55 2,55 2,55 2,34 1,97 1,91 1,88 1,86
Source: FAO Fishery and Aquaculture Statistics   
1) Due to roundings total may not sum up   

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


Updated 2020Part 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 sectorThe length of the Bulgarian coastline of the Black Sea is 378 km, and Varna Bay and Burgas Bay are among the largest bays. The territorial waters reach 12 nautical miles from the coast, the contiguous zone 24 nautical miles from the coast, and the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) 200 nautical miles from the coast.

More than 1 million people live in coastal areas, mainly Burgas, Varna and Dobrich. The Bulgarian fisheries policy and sector management are subject to the rules and objectives of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (EU CFP). The main fish production in the country relies on commercial fishery in the Black Sea and the Danube as well as on fish and other aquatic organisms’ production in specialized aquacultures farms. The country’s fisheries can be placed into two categories.

Marine sub-sectorCatch profileThe majority of fishing activities are carried out in territorial waters (within the 12 nautical miles area). In general, the total catches by Bulgarian fishing vessels show a slight decrease. Traditionally, the European sprat fishery is one of the most important for the Bulgarian fishing sector, both for fresh and processed markets. In recent years catches of veined rapa whelk have overtaken those for sprat, due to high export demand. Since 2017, there has been growing economic interest in the white sand mussels (Chamelea gallina, Mya arenaria and Donax trunculus) catch due to the high market demands.

Landing sitesLandings from commercial fisheries in the Black Sea are carried out at 74 landing sites. Some of the most important landing ports in Bulgaria are Varna, Kavarna, Blachik, Byala, Burgas, Nesebar, Sozopol and Tsarevo, Pomorie and Shabla. The fishing vessels flying the flag of third countries are authorized to land only in the ports of Varna and Burgas.

Table 3 - Quantities landed on the main landing sites for 2016.

Main landing sites

TTL Landings[kg]
Balchik BGBAL 583642.63
Burgas BGBOJ 133521.3
Byala BGBYA 121828.6
Varna BGVAR 1046766.77
Kavarna BGKAV 644572.22
Nesebar BGNES 1099378.32
Pomorie BGPOM 617595.2
Sozopol BGSOS 1812206.6
Tzarevo BGTZA 148103.9
Shabla BGSHA 206145.6
Source: Executive Agency of Fisheries and Aquaculture (EAFA);

Fishing practices/systems

In 2017, the Bulgarian fishing fleet consisted of 1 880 registered vessels, of which 1 295 were active and the remaining vessels were inactive. The active fleet had a combined gross tonnage (GT) of 5 thousand tonnes, engine power of 41.2 thousand kilowatts (kW) and an average age of 25 years. The majority of the fleet was less than 12 m length over all (LOA) and used passive gears.

There has been an increase in the number of active fishing vessels in two of five segments – LOA 0-6 m and LOA 6-12m. All vessels in segment LOA 24-40 m are active. A slight reduction is observed only in segments LOA 6-12 m and LOA 18-24 m.

The Bulgarian fishing fleet consists mainly of small fishing vessels (with length below 12 m). The number of active fishing vessels over 12 m in 2016 is 88. All vessels with length 12 m or above are equipped with Vessel Monitoring System (VMS). The main fishing gears used by the Bulgarian fishing fleet are gillnets, pelagic trawls, beam trawls and longlines. Some species (like mussels, veined rapa whelk and other bottom species) can be caught manually, without using fishing gear. Trap fisheries (pond nets) are also used. Most of the vessels smaller than 12 m are involved in small scale fisheries using gillnets. The vessels with length over 12 m are mainly pelagic trawlers. Fishing vessels are distributed into different fleet segments according to the fishing technique (métier) and fishing gear used (Table 4). Segmentation of vessels by fishing gear in the Black Sea waters is done in accordance with Decision 2010/93 / EU.

Table 4 - Segmentation of vessels by fishing gear and in the Black Sea and number of ships by Vessel length for the period 2016 year.

Métier Vessel length No of vessels 2016
Drift and/or fixed nets VL0006 304
Purse seiners VL0006 19
Active and passive gears VL0006 53
Pot and traps VL0006 6
Hooks VL0006 26
Passive gears VL0006 7
Total number
Average for segment
Drift and/or fixed nets VL0612 430
Purse seiners VL0612 6
Pot and traps VL0612 42
Hooks VL0612 49
Polyvalent passive gears VL0612 13
Active and passive gears VL0612 154
Pelagic trawlers VL0612 6
Beam trawlers VL0612 3
Total number
Average for segment
Drift and/or fixed nets VL1218 7
Polyvalent passive gears VL1218 14
Active and passive gears VL1218 2
Beam trawlers VL1218 4
Hooks VL1218 1
Pelagic trawlers VL1218 33
Total number
Average for segment
Drift and/or fixed nets VL1824 1
Active and passive gears VL1824 4
Beam trawlers VL1824 1
Pelagic trawlers VL1824 9
Total number
Average for segment
Pelagic trawlers VL2440 12
Active and passive gears VL2440 -
Total number
Average for segment
Source: EAFA

Main resourcesThe main species targeted in the Black Sea are:-Pelagic species: European sprat (Sprattus sprattus), Mediterranean horse mackerel (Trachurus mediterraneus ponticus), flathead grey mullet (Mugil cephalus), Bonito (Sarda sarda), Bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix);-Demersal species: Red mullet (Mullus barbatus), Piked dogfish (Squalus acanthias), thornback ray (Raja clavata), turbot (Psetta maxima), gobies (Gobiidae).-Veined rapa whelk and sand gaper (Mya arenaria).Bulgaria has been applying Total Allowable Catch (TAC) and quota regimes since 2007 only for Turbot (Psetta maxima; 43.2 tonnes) and European sprat (Sprattus sprattus; 8 032.5 tonnes) (Council Regulation 2016/73).

Another factor which affects the biodiversity is the presence of invasive species from the Mediterranean Sea. One typical example of this is the invasion of the veined rapa whelk, which has successfully adapted to the conditions of the Black Sea ecosystem in the 1950s. Apart from veined rapa whelk, which has commercial value, an interest in other non-finfish resources has recently begun. An example are all three species of white mussels - the white sand mussel Chamelea gallina, Mya arenaria and Donax trunculus, which have different habitats. The common characteristic of these three species of mussels is that they form great clusters in shallower waters. Manual harvest is the only method permitted by law for these species.

Management applied to main fisheriesThe main conditions of fisheries management in Bulgaria are defined by the EU CFP. The Fisheries and Aquaculture Act provides the legal basis for the management, exploitation and conservation of fishery resources and for the placing on the market of fishery products and other aquatic organisms.

Different management strategies have been developed in Bulgaria to control fishing effort and promote the recovery and conservation of water resources and ecosystems. The following restrictions are applicable for the Bulgarian waters of the Black sea:

Closure periods:

Permanent closures (industrial vessels):

  • Commercial fishing with gillnets 300 m from the river’s mouths;
  • Commercial fishing in port areas within 1 miles from the coast;
  • Trawling activities within 3-miles from the coasts, excluding vessels applying for derogation from Recommendation General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) 36/2012/3.

Closure during spawning periods (as stated in the Fisheries and Aquaculture Act):
  • Turbot – from 15 April to 15 June. During this period the fishing of common stingray and thornback ray shall be also prohibited.
  • Gillnets targeting gobies – from 15 April to 15 May

Forbidden gear (as stated in the Fisheries and Aquaculture Act):
  • Explosives, poisonous and anesthetic substances;
  • Electricity and means with electric current;
  • Bottom trawls and dredges, excluding beam trawls;
  • Firearms.

Technical measures for the gears used in Black Sea:
  • Minimum mesh size for bottom-set gillnets used in turbot fisheries – 400 mm;
  • Minimum mesh size for gillnets used for gobies – 22 mm;

The catch of cetaceans is prohibited. Release of cetacean by-catches is required.

  • Minimum landing sizes of the main commercially landed species:

SpeciesScientific name3 - alpha codeMinimum sizeLegal reference
TurbotPsetta maximaTUR45 cm

Council Regulation 850/98

Annex 2 of LFA

Europan spratSprattus sprattusSPR7 cmAnnex 2 of LFA
ShadAlosa ponticaSHC22 cmAnnex 2 of LFA
Piked dogfishSqualus acanthiasDGS90 cmAnnex 2 of LFA
AnchovyEngraulis encrasicholus ponticusANE8 cmAnnex 2 of LFA
GarfishBelone beloneGAR25 cmAnnex 2 of LFA
WhitingMerlangius merlangus euxinusWHG8 cmAnnex 2 of LFA
Flathead grey mulletMugil cephalusMIF25 cmAnnex 2 of LFA
Golden grey mulletLiza aurata 25 cmAnnex 2 of LFA
Leaping mulletLiza saliensLZS22 cmAnnex 2 of LFA
Gobies neiAtherina sppSIL10 cmAnnex 2 of LFA
Horse mackerelTrachurus mediterraneus ponticusHMM12 cmAnnex 2 of LFA
Red mulletMullus barbatus ponticusMUT8 cmAnnex 2 of LFA
BonitoSarda sardaBON28 cmAnnex 2 of LFA
European flounderPlatichthys flesus luscusFLE20 cmAnnex 2 of LFA
Black mussel Mytilus galloprovincialisMSM7 cmAnnex 2 of LFA

The following measures are specific to the management of turbot fisheries:

  • Special fishing authorization – vessels targeting turbot shal be provided with turbot fishing authorization in addition to their license;
  • Designated landing ports – landing of turbot is allowed only at the following 7 ports: Shabla, Kavarna, Balchik, Varna, Nesebar, Pomorie, Sozopol and Tsarevo;
  • Minimum size limit for cought turbot– 45 cm.
  • Minimum mesh size for bottom-set gillnets used in turbot fisheries – 400 mm;
  • Recording of all catches – in accordance with national legislation, all quantities of catches must be registered in a fishing register, including those weighing less than 50kg;
  • Prior notification – at least 2 hours before mooring, the captains of the ships which take part in turbot fishing are obliged to send a prior notification to the Fisheries Monitoring Centre;
  • Vessel monitoring – All fishing vessels fishing turbot must be connected with the Fishing Monitoring Cente (FMC) tracking device. Fishing vessels measuring 12 meters or more must be equipped with a VMS whilst the smaller vessels may operate with a General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) tracking device;
  • Port inspection – all turbot landings must be carried out only in the presence of an EAFA inspector and are subject to an obligatory inspection;
  • Closure period for turbot fisheries – according to Regulation (EC) 2016/2372 the ban on turbot catch is applied from 15 April to 15 June.

The Fisheries and Aquaculture Act laid down rules for withdrawal of the vessels that have been inactive for two consecutive years. The released capacity shall be allocated to other fishing vessels, which will guarantee the rejuvenation and modernization of the fishing fleet and more effective usage of fishing capacity.

The fishing licenses and authorizations system is functioning in a matter to grant fishing authorization for all species (excluding turbot, which is a subject of a separate authorization system) giving possibility to the fishermen to target all allowed species, which could compensate the yearly fluctuations of migrating species.

The system of certification and verification of the engine power allows monitoring of the real propulsion engine power and not exceeding the engine power recorded in the license. The Executive Agency for Fisheries and Aquaculture and Executive Agency Maritime Administration will continue their joint activities for the implementation of the Sampling Plan for identification of fishing vessels with a risk of under-declaration of propulsion engine power, approved in 2014 and revised in 2016.

At national level the use of trawling gears is prohibited within 3 nautical miles from the coast, with the exception of some fishing vessels using derogation in the area between 1 and 3 nautical miles. That allows to the small fishing vessels, which have restricted navigation area to deploy their fishing gears in the coastal area and to avoid point of contact with the bigger fishing vessels using active fishing gears.

Management objectives

All management measures described, aim to: 1. Better control fishing and aquaculture activities and the first sale of fishery products; 2. Provide sustainable development of the sector thanks to responsible fishing and fish species preservation;3. Long-term provision to the market and the processing industry of quality fish and fishery products at prices affordable for the consumers;4. Provide a better life standard to people employed in fishing activities. In order to implement all management objectives each year Bulgarian authorities set and implement a National Fisheries Control Plan. The content of this plan is in line with the rules of the EU and it is based on risk assessments. In order to ensure the proper cooperation between different authorities, a Memorandum of Understanding between the Executive Agency for Fisheries and Aquaculture, Executive Agency Maritime Administration, Bulgarian Food Safety Agency and Border Police has been signed in September 2014.

Inland sub-sectorCatch profileAccording to Bulgarian legislation commercial fishing in inland waters is allowed only in the Danube river. For the last years, the annual catch in the Danube river has varied between 52 and 135 tonnes.

Fishing practices/systemsAccording to the Informational-statistical system of the EAFA the fishing fleet of Danube river consists of 1330 fishing vessels. The total length of most of them is under 10 meters. The main fishing gear used in Danube river is gillnets.

Main resourcesThe catches in Danube river most commonly include: freshwater bream (Abramis brama), barbell (Barbus barbus), carp (Cyprinus carpio), crucian carp (Carassius auratus), redfish (Scardinius erythrophthalmus).

Sturgeons (Acipenseridae) are one of the most valuable species worldwide. As their stock in the Danube river is not in good condition the fishing of sturgeons in Bulgaria is prohibited. In the Bulgarian waters of the Danube river there are a number of existing restrictions related to the minimum allowable size and the spring-summer breeding period. In accordance with Bulgarian legislation, the minimum mesh size is 40 mm. For Chalcalburnus chalcoides, minimum mesh size is 16 mm, 36 mm for Percidae, Vimba vimba, Chondrostoma nasus, 60 mm for Esox lucius and Sander lucioperca, 65 mm for Cyprinus carpio and other herbivorous species (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix and Ctenopharyngodon idella, Mylopharyngodon piceus), and 70 mm for the Silurus glanis.

Aquaculture sub-sectorAquaculture has emerged as a new activity in Bulgaria, although the rearing of different aquatic species dates back many years. The aquaculture sector began to develop at the end of the 18th century, a period marked by the start of the construction of the first state fish farms for rearing rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). The first carp farms were built in the 1940s. The 1990s marked the beginning of the transition of ownership in the freshwater aquaculture from public to private, the private sector formed on the basis of the existing as well as newly built aquaculture production capacities.The total number of fish farms at the end of 2016 was 683 (out of which 33 were mariculture farms), compared to 611 one year earlier. In connection with the ban on commercial fishing in the inland waters of the country, in force from August 2012 and related with the new registration, the number of active registered producers of aquacultures increased.

Recreational sub-sectorRecreational fishing in Bulgaria can only be carried with a permit. This type of fishing can be carried out in Black Sea and in inland waters (rivers, lakes, dams etc). Some specific provisions are in force in order to regulate the recreational fisheries, namely:
  • Recreational fishing authorization is required except in cases of recreational fishing in the Black Sea;
  • Recreational fishing shall be carried out only with fishing rods and with harpoons;
  • It is forbidden to sell the catch from recreational fisheries;
  • There is a maximum quantity that can be kept per day (2 kg per day for trout and 3 kg for carp and other warmwater species, excluding single individuals with greater size).

Post-harvest sectorRegistration and control of processing plants are carried out by the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency. The number of processing enterprises has been relatively steady in recent years – between 43 and 46 enterprises were active each year.

After Bulgaria became a member of the European Union, more focus was placed on working conditions and improvement of safety measures; improvement and monitoring of human health and hygiene conditions or quality of products; production of high quality products to satisfy and suit the market niches; decrease of the negative impact on the environment; improvement in the use of the least used species, supplementary products or waste; production and marketing of new products from local fisheries and aquacultures mainly. This assistance and contribution is directed in two main directions – to build and modernize post-harvest enterprises and to build and modernize the existing market structures.

Fish utilizationFrozen/deep-frozen and canned products make up the majority of the post-harvest sector. A relatively small part of this sector is taken up by fresh products, smoked, salted or dried products. Among the main species in the post-harvest sector are mollusks (rapana and clams) and sprat.

Some fish and aquacultures producers utilize post-harvest equipment and devices situated near the fish farms, which helps improve the quality of the final product. All EU requirements in the field of veterinary and sanitary control, quality and food safety standards are applied in this sector.

Fish marketsAccording to the Information and Statistics System (ISS) of EAFA, cost of seafood has been increasing (retail and wholesale) on the domestic market, a negative factor for consumers, leading to a drop in demand and consumption. It is necessary to improve the quality of the market analyses and to present market data in order to define the volume of real sales of fish and fishery products, the structure of sales and the real consumption. At the same time, the consumers’ requirements about the quality of fish and fishery products have become bigger, as well as the demand for ready-made fish products on the market.

Socio-economic contribution of the fishery sectorThe fisheries and aquaculture sectors constitute a significant part of the domestic economy and provide high levels of employment in the coastal regions, also by contributing to the development of the tourism industry. National Legislation closely follows the EU Common Fisheries Policy, including in the consideration of ecosystem impacts, bycatch and sustainability. Between 2014 and 2020 the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund financed a number of projects oriented to:
  • Introduction of innovative fishing techniques,
  • Creation of new fishery products markets,
  • Improvement of life quality in coastal areas.
In recent years there has been a gradual increase of the total aquaculture production in specialized fishing farms due the financial assistance of European Structural Funds.

Role of fisheries in the national economy

The fisheries and aquaculture sector has a specific position and role in the national economy. The sector is relatively small, with a share of around 0.05% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but it provides employment at a regional level, especially in coastal areas, where it has a significant impact on the local economies. The advantages of the sector are related to the availability of aquaculture production potential in freshwater and marine waters, the presence of unexploited natural resources, combined with low labor costs and market opportunities.


The adoption of regulations concerning the sale of fish and other aquatic organisms has been included within the Law on Fishery and Aquaculture adopted in 2001. The institution responsible for the introduction and control of market standards for fish and fish products in Bulgaria is the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry through the EAFA.

Bulgaria is a net importer of fishery products, both in value and in quantity. The quantity of imports is about twice the domestic production. Main supplying countries are Romania, Greece, Denmark, Spain and the Netherlands. Imports from EU countries make up for about 80 percent of total imports. Exports are lower than imports of fishery products. The bulk of the exports is going to Romania, followed by Sweden and Greece.

Food security

Table 5: Fish and fishery products consumption on average per capita

Fish and fishery products consumption

on average per capita

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014



Fish and fishery products 5.3 kg 5.4 kg 5.4 kg  6.7 kg 5.2 kg 5.4 kg  5.0 kg

Source: National Statistical Institute (NSI)

The consumption of fish in Bulgaria is traditionally lower compared to neighboring countries. In 2013 there was an increase in trends of fish consumption in Bulgaria, however since 2014 fish consumption has started to decrease, reaching 5 kg per capita in 2016. Several factors contribute to this fact: the lack of traditional fish consumption; the seasonal character of the fishing activities due to the climate conditions in different regions of the country; the lack of a well-organized market structure and the lack of advertisement of fish products; the high prices of imported fish and fishery products in comparison to the average income of the population.

EmploymentThe fisheries and aquaculture sector does not play an important role as provider of employment, with estimated in the range of 1800 people, a large proportion of which are parttime employees. The aquaculture sector gives a job to about 1 000 people.

Trends, issues and developmentConstraints and opportunitiesAccording to national legislation, all fishing vessels carrying out commercial fishing shall be included in the Ship register kept by the Executive Agency “Maritime Administration” (the Bulgarian institution responsible for the technical characteristics and condition of the vessels) and in the Fishing Fleet Register kept by the Executive Agency for Fisheries and Aquaculture (the Bulgarian institution responsible for the control of fishing activities).One of the main principles in the management of the fishing fleet is the fishing capacity, that could not exceed the levels of 2007 (year of the accession of Bulgaria in EU). In order to ensure conformity with this rule, new fishing vessels can be included in the Fishing Fleet Register and licenced only in case of withdrawal of at least the same level of capacity from the register. This rule is also applicable in case of increase of the fishing capacity of registered vessel. Weaknesses:- Lack of conditions for direct sale from vessel to end user (customer), due to insufficiency of first sale auctions;- Extended age of the fishing fleet and limited investment in the replacement of fishing gears with more selective ones, insufficient safety and working conditions;- High average age of employees in the sector;- Dependence of fisheries from the seasonal catches of some valuable species;

Strengths:- Existence of Informational-Statistical system, where data from fishing fleet and catch reporting are recorded;- Enhancing the awareness of sector, through informational campaigns, regular meetings and publishing of information of EAFA’s website;- Permanent monitoring of fishing vessels targeting turbot. According to the rules established at national level, each vessel that intends to target turbot shall be equipped with VMS or GPRS depending on the length of vessel;- Cooperation with other national authorities regarding the technical parameters of fishing vessels (Executive Agency “Maritime Administration”) and fight against Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing (Border Police, Bulgarian Food Safety Agency), including temporary suspensions or permanent withdrawal of fishing license;- Enhanced monitoring and control system, that allows reliable management of fisheries;

Building of a new first sale auction facility and modernization of two fishing ports (Chernomorets and Pomorie) started in 2015 and was completed in 2016. The new fishing port in Varna, financed by the European Union, is expected to be completed by the end of 2020. The project involves the modernization and reconstruction of the existing fishing port with the construction of hydro-technical facilities in the water area, infrastructure with the necessary facilities. The aim is to provide an opportunity for efficient, regulated, safe and hygienic landing, storage, first sale and forwarding of catches. The realization of the project will create a protected water area for safe mooring of fishing boats, sustainable development of fishing activity on the territory of the municipality, preservation of fishery crafts and livelihoods of fishermen, creation of new jobs. That will facilitate direct sale of fisheries products to end users. Modernization of the fish ports and building of new ones with the appropriate infrastructure will have further positive impact on facilitation of the process of direct sale of fish and other aquatic organisms.

Government and non-government sector policies and development strategiesThe Bulgarian membership in the EU has opened opportunities for the development of the Fisheries and Aquaculture sector. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry and the EAFA work together to implement the basic objectives and principles of the Common Fisheries Policy. The activities and the structure of EAFA are defined in the rules of procedure adopted by the Council of Ministers.

The Agency applies fisheries legislation and coordinates the development of fisheries and aquaculture, the management and control of fishery resources, the issuing of permits and the regime of registration for fishing and fish breeding and control of the rules for recreational fisheries. The main tasks for EAFA are:- to develop strategies for fisheries, aquaculture and processing in line with the government's economic policies;- to respect structural policies in the fisheries and aquaculture sector,- to regulate the specific legal framework;- to ensure control and surveillance of fisheries.

In 2015, the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Program 2014-2020 (MAFP) was approved with a Decision of the European Commission from 13th of November 2015. The Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Department of the MAF has been defined to implement the functions of a Managing Authority of the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Program, funded by the European Fund for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, while the function of the intermediate body for MAFP is performed by the State Fund “Agriculture” – Paying Agency.The approval of MAFP guarantees the contribution of the European Fund for the EU's Maritime and Fisheries Policies for the achievement of the goals in the common policy in the Fisheries Sector, of the Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP) and the Europe 2020 Strategy and the basic priorities, connected with the promotion of ecologically sustainable, and based on knowledge fishery and aquaculture, in which the application of the Fishery Common Policy is promoted, the increase of employment and the territorial inclusion, the promotion of the marketing and the processing, as well as the application of the IMP.In terms of the fishery, a significant financial resource will be directed for the improvement of the infrastructure of fishery ports, unloading sites, fish markets and boat shelters. Besides, a measure for adding to the value and increasing of the quality of the products is provided. Another important emphasis is the support of the innovation and the diversification of the activities outside the commercial fishery.

Research, education and trainingResearchThe Bulgarian Fisheries Research and Education Centres are:

• Faculty of Biology, Department of Hydrobiology and Ichthyology at the Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski " (the main structure for higher education in the field of fisheries);• Institute of Fish Resources - Varna;• Institute of Oceanology in Varna;• Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture in Plovdiv - specialized in researchin the field of aquaculture;• Institute of Zoology with a Natural History Museum in Sofia, Department of Hydrobiologyand Ichthyology;• Central Laboratory of General Ecology in Sofia;• Thracian University, Stara Zagora;• National Diagnostic Research Veterinary Medicine Institute which is part of the National Veterinary Service at Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

These research institutes support the activities of EAFA on the organisation and management of the fisheries sector in Bulgaria. EAFA also organises and/or participates in educational and training activities for its administration, professional organisations and people working in the sector. The Institute of Fish Resources and the Institute of Oceanology at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (both located in Varna) carry out scientific research and give recommendations for the sustainable exploitation of the fish and other aquatic resources in the Black Sea. Research into the dynamics of fish populations in inland waters (in particular of commercially important species and endangered/protected species in rivers and natural or artificial lakes) is carried out at the Institute of Zoology at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences at the Faculty of Biology at Sofia University, as well as at the Central Laboratory of General Ecology in Sofia.The Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture in Plovdiv is mainly engaged in scientific and research activities in the field of aquaculture and mainly in the development of technologies for breeding of commercially important species.

Institutional frameworkThe Bulgarian Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry is the state institution applying a unified state policy in the agricultural sector, managing, coordinating and controlling the state policy in the field of agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture, forestry and hunting. The EAFA under the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forestry is an executive body of the central administration for both implementation of the National policy of fishery and aquaculture and for the application of the Law of Fisheries and Aquaculture. The Agency is financed by the national budget, fees from licensing and registration regimes and the collection of compensation for damage caused to fish and other water organisms. There are 4 territorial units of EAFA across the country.

In addition there are other structures of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, that support the basic activities of the Agency. Two main associations operate in the sector, Association “Black Sea Sunrise” and the “Association of the fish products producers”(BG FISH), which represent the fish producers and protect the commercial, social and all other professional rights of its members.

Legal frameworkThe Law on Fisheries and Aquaculture from 2006 regulates the relations associated with ownership, organization, management, use and conservation of fishery resources in the waters (marine and freshwater) of the Republic of Bulgaria, including the trading issues and relation and provisions also regarding the other aquatic organisms.The provisions here defined are aimed to implement the sustainable development of fishery resources and conservation of biological balance and to enrich the diversity of fishery resources in aquatic ecosystems; the development of commercial and recreational fisheries and aquaculture; the application of the rules on responsible fishing; and further increasing the consumption of fish and fish products in the country.The Law is divided into VIII Chapters and 124 articles, including the offences and related penalties. Last amendment of this law is fromDecember 2016.

The Law of stock exchanges and market places (published in State Journal No 93 from 1.11.1996, last amendment in State Journal No 7 from 19.01.2018) regulates the required information and accounting documents, which include data on the origin of products, their complete description, certification and qualitative characteristics that aquaculture producers must complete when selling the products.

The Law of waters (published in State Journal No 67 from 27.07.1999, last amendment in State Journal No 55 from 3.07.2018), provides the ownership and management of waters on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria as an over-national inseparable natural resource, governing also the ownership of aquatic economic systems and equipment.

Тhe Law of veterinary-medical activities (published in State Journal No 87 from 1.11.2005, last amendment in State Journal No 17 from 23.02.2018), aims to provide conditions for supplying the market with high quality and safe raw materials and foods of animal origin, as well as to introduce the principles and requirements of veterinary legislation of the European Union. Regulations on preventive measures and control of contagious diseases took effect in 2001 and set measures for safeguarding, restricting and eradicating the spread of infectious and viral diseases among trout and carp.

The requirements on water quality for fishery and for breeding shell organisms are regulated by regulations from 2000 from the Ministry of Environment and Waters, the Ministry of Agriculture, food and Forestry and the Ministry of Health.



EAFA Executive Agency of Fisheries and Aquaculture
EEZ exclusive economic zone
EU CFP EU Common Fisheries Policy
FMC Fishing Monitoring Center
GDP Gross Domestic Product
GFCM General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean
GT gross tonnage
IMP Integrated Maritime Policy
ISS Information and Statistics System
IUU Illegal, unreported and unregulated
LOA length over all
MAFP Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Program
NSI National Statistical Institute
TAC Total Allowable Catch
VMS Vessel Monitoring System


Most important Internet links to the national fisheries and aquaculture:.
Executive Agency for Fisheries and Aquaculture (“http://iara.government.bg/”).
Ministry of agriculture, food and forestry (“http://mzh.government.bg/”.
Republic of Bulgaria National statistical institute (“https://infostat.nsi.bg/infostat/pages/module”).
Executive Agency “Maritime Administration (“http://marad.bg“).
Ministry of agriculture, food and forestry (“http://mzh.government.bg/mzh/Documents/reports.aspx“).
National Statistical Institute (NSI) (“https://infostat.nsi.bg/infostat/pages/module“).

Additional information

Meetings & News archive


Powered by FIGIS