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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 (2014)

  1. Production sector
    • Marine sub-sector
    • Inland sub-sector
    • Aquaculture sub-sector
    • Recreational sub-sector
  2. Post-harvest sector
    • Fish utilization
  3. Socio-economic contribution of the fishery sector
    • Role of fisheries in the national economy
    • Trade
    • 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
      • Education and training
    • Foreign aid
  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 brief

Prepared: July 2015

Bosnia and Herzegovina, with a population of about 3.8 million in 2014, is located in the Western Balkans region. The country’s hydrological resources belong to the river basins of the Black and Adriatic Seas. Bosnia and Herzegovina has the following aquatic resources: (i) 20 000 km of rivers and brooks (including the Sava, Drina, Bosna, Vrbas and Una); (ii) 180 km2 of lakes and water reservoirs (including Buško Blato, Višegradsko, Jablaničko, and Modrac); and (iii) 13 km of coastline.

The country has a very long tradition in aquaculture and has a great potential for increasing national aquaculture production because of its rich natural resources (abundant clean water), high-quality, educated and cheap labor, high capability of fish processing factories, and large number of hatcheries. Fish farms are located in three main regions: salmonid and cyprinid farms in the northern Bosnia, salmonid farms in the Neretva, Una and Vrbas River regions, and marine farms in the Adriatic Sea at Neum.

During the war period (1991–1995) the majority of the fish farms were destroyed along with their entire infrastructure. After the war the process of privatizing the farms that were owned by the state before 1995 started. The privatization has increased the opportunities for aquaculture development. New production technologies were introduced, import of high-quality feeds was increased and the local production of high-quality carp feeds was expanded.

Aquaculture is practised in both freshwater and marine water. The total aquaculture production had stayed at the level around 7 600 tonnes from 2006 to 2010 but dropped sharply in the last three years to a level of 2 900 tonnes in 2013. Aquaculture production is dominated by freshwater fish farming (95 percent in 2013). The main products are rainbow trout and common carp. Mariculture production consists of gilthead seabream, European seabass, oyster and mussel.

Inland and marine fisheries production are estimated to be around 300 tonnes and 5 tonnes per year respectively. The commercial fishing in rivers and lakes is currently banned.

Fish supply in the country is provided through supermarkets, specialized sections of the food markets and fish shops often owned by fish production companies. A significant proportion of trout is sold directly from farms in gutted form. Apparent per capita consumption of fish and fish products was estimated at 5.9 kg in 2011. A substantial part of the production is exported. More than half of the export went to the European Union (EU) countries in 2011 as fresh and iced product. A small part of fish is exported in smoked form. In 2014, total exports of fish and fishery products were valued at USD 6.8 million, while imports at USD 39.1 million.

The export of fish and fish products from Bosnia and Herzegovina to the EU markets, as officially permitted by EU Decision 2008/156/EC, is the most significant success of the Bosnia and Herzegovina’s agriculture sector in the post-war period. The establishment of the National Reference Laboratory and the harmonization of the aquatic animal health surveillance and diseases control system with EU standards helped to maximize the benefits from exporting aquaculture products to the EU and regional markets. However, registration of fish farms in both entities and the completion/introduction of a new, harmonized Fisheries Law are still missing. Capacity building for operational aspects such as the implementation of Good Hygienic Practice (GHP), Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and traceability is necessary.

Activities in marine aquaculture are governed by the provisions of the Marine Fisheries Act (OG 56/10, 127/10, 55/11) on farming of fish and other marine organisms. Freshwater aquaculture is defined by the Freshwater Fisheries Act (OG 106/01, 7/03, 174/04, 10/05, 49/05-consolidated text).

Since January 1994, Bosnia and Herzegovina is Party to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
General geographic and economic indicators

Table 1 – Bosnia and Herzegovina - General Geographic and Economic Data

Marine water area (including the EEZ) 12.2 km2 Statistical Yearbook 2014, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Shelf area 14 km2 http://www.seaaroundus.org/eez/70.aspx
Length of continental coastline 13 km Statistical Yearbook 2014, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina
GDP at current prices (2013) USD 11.5 billion Statistical Yearbook 2014, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina
GDP per capita (2013) USD 4 006 Statistical Yearbook 2014, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Agricultural GDP (2013) USD 588 million Statistical Yearbook 2014, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Fisheries GDP (2013) USD 10.9 million Estimated from proportion of value of sales

Key statistics

Country area51 210km2FAOSTAT. Official data, 2013
Land area51 200km2FAOSTAT. Official data, 2013
Inland water area10km2Computed. Calculated, 2013
Population - Est. & Proj.3.677millionsFAOSTAT. Official data, 2018
Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) area13km2VLIZ

Source: FAO Country Profile

FAO Fisheries statistics

Updated 2014Part 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 aquaculture and fisheries sector production amounted to 9 600-10 000 tonnes of fish and mollusks in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the period of 2006-2011. The contribution of the sector to agricultural production was 1.24 percent in 2008.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has a great potential for increasing national aquaculture/fisheries production because of its rich natural resources (abundant clean water). The length of the rivers and brooks is about 20 000 km. The area of natural lakes is 3 057 ha. The area of artificial lakes and water reservoirs is 15 101 ha (Hydrological Department of University of Sarajevo).

The sector is considered to have an important role in improving domestic food supply and generating income through supplying the export market. Sport fishing can be an important component of sport tourism. The sustainable utilization of the resources is hampered by the fact that there is no Agricultural Ministry at the state level in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The presently applied laws on fisheries, aquaculture and sport fishing are not updated and not harmonized between entities. There is no institutional context for a systematic and permanent management of the coastal area.Marine sub-sectorThe production of marine sub-sector only made up 3.5 percent of the total aquaculture production in 2011. There are only two cage farms on the sea in Neum region. Three fish species, the Common dentex (Dentex dentex), Gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata) and European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax), are produced in marine farms. European flat oysters (Ostrea edulis), Mediterranean mussels (Mytilus galloprovincialis) are also reared in this region. Only a few (around 20 persons) small-scale fishers work on the sea. They use gill nets. Their catch is very low (estimated 5 tonnes). The fish caught by artisanal fishermen are sold directly to the customers or are sold through the marketing chains of the two marine cage farms.Inland sub-sectorCommercial fishing is not permitted in rivers and lakes. However, illegal fishing is common. For example about 20 illegal, unregistered fishers work on the River Sava, each catching 10-30 tonnes of fish annually, of which around 1/3 is made up of carp and freshwater predator fish. Many of the fish are caught in spawning sites. Gill nets, special fish traps and long lines with hooks are used. Fish are sold through fish shops or directly to the consumer. Anglers are the other users of rivers, natural lakes and water reservoirs. Aquaculture sub-sectorThe majority of fish (97 percent) is produced in freshwater systems. The main products are Salmonids (54 percent) and Cyprinids (46 percent). There are more than 130 trout farms and 11 carp farms in the country. The farms are private (family) enterprises, limited companies and a few of them are cooperatives or shareholder groups. There is an Association of Fish Producers. The 10 members of this Association are the main fish exporters. The Association works under the umbrella of the Foreign Trade Chamber of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This body maintains the data on fish export and import.

The production of table sized fish is supported by government subsidies which are provided by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water management in both entities. The State Veterinary Administration monitors virus infections in fish farms, based on two samples per year. The samples are collected and prepared by the Veterinary Faculty of the University of Sarajevo, and tested in the Institute of Animal Health in Serbia. The State Veterinarian Administration controls the health status of imported fish, while the BiH Food Safety Agency checks the feeds/feed ingredients. Veterinarian Inspectors have direct contact with the fish farms. Their work is supported by the Aquaculture Department of the Veterinarian Faculty of the University of Sarajevo. Fish diseases such as viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS), infectious haematopoietic necrosis (IHN), infectious pancreatic necrosis (IPN) and spring viraemia of carp (SVC) are regularly monitored.

Production of Salmonids

Production of Salmonid fish is carried out in flow through or cage systems. The majority of Salmonid farms also have hatcheries. There are only few farms that specialize on the production and sale of stocking material. Table fish production has increased since 2002.

Pelleted fish and extruded fish feeds are imported as feed for Salmonids. Large European feed factories are the main suppliers. The use of farm-made feeds is unusual.

Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) accounts for the majority of the production (96 % in 2011). Brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), Brown trout (Salmo trutta morpha fario) Sea trout (Salmo trutta) are also produced. Artificial production of grayling (Thymallus thymallus) and Danube salmon (Hucho hucho) started recently.

Production of Cyprinids and other warm water fish species

Carps are produced in traditional carp farms, in large shallow ponds. Usually pelleted feeds and maize are used to feed carps. One factory produces pelleted feeds for table fish production with 32 and 25 percent protein content (This is the only fish feed factory in Bosnia and Herzegovina.). The significance of supplementary feeds in carp production is not as dominant as in other carp producing countries of Europe.

Despite the thousands of hectares that are used for carp production, only one small capacity carp hatchery is in operation in the country. Naturally spawned carps are used or the stocking material is purchased from Serbia or sometimes from Croatia and Hungary.

Common carps (Cyprinus carpio) (82 percent of the total Cyprinid fish) Grass carps (Ctenopharyngodon idella) and Silver carps (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix ) are the main Cyprinids produced in fish farms.

The total area of carp ponds was 2 130 ha in 2012. The area converted to carp production decreased by about 20 percent during the 2009-2012 period. The decrease of table fish production was dramatic in this period: 2 783 tonnes of table fish were produced in 2009 and only 636 tonnes were produced in 2012. One of the reasons for the decline was substitution for carp imports from Croatia and Serbia.
Recreational sub-sectorThe Sport Fishing Association of the Republic of Srpska (established in 1954) has 51 Sport Fishing Societies in 12 Regions. The Societies have about 10 000 members. Their average catch is estimated at slightly below 10 kg/year per person.

The Sport Fishing Societies obtain access rights from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management. They collect fees from anglers. The societies are required to follow a restocking plan. These plans should be prepared by the University of Agriculture or by the University of Biological Science and Mathematics. However, as a consequence of a budget shortage, only a few societies have scientifically determined restocking plans. The Sport Fishing Association maintains a fish hatchery with a production of about 0.5-1.0 million brown trout annually (5-7 cm) for restocking. The hydropower centers provide financial support for restocking.

The Federal Association of Sport Fishermen’s has 76 member societies. Three of these societies work under concession. There are 12 300 anglers in the societies, who pay an annual membership fee. The estimated catch (including the non-reported catch) is between 5-10 kg/person annually, out of which 60 percent are Cyprinid fish, and the rest are Salmonids. The Societies devote 8 percent of their income for restocking. Restocking is supported by the hydropower centers.

The members of sport fishing societies are allowed to catch fish outside the area of their societies for a fee. Companies specialized in tourism organize fly/sport fishing for foreign anglers in close collaboration with the Sport Fishing Societies. There are 29 tourist boards in the Republic Srpska working in this field. The main area of sport fishing in the Federation is the Una-Sana Canton. Trout, grayling and Danube salmon are the most sought after species for foreign anglers. A few of the Fishing Associations maintain lodging houses for anglers, and investors have started to build hotels close to the fishing areas for the same purpose. Illegal fishing in rivers has hampered sport tourism. However, the control carried out by paid or voluntary guards employed by fishing societies and high fines have decreased the level of illegal fishing and helped to save the fish populations.
Post-harvest sectorFish utilizationThere is no wholesale fish market in the country. Approximately 65 percent of the total production of fish is sold in the domestic market. Fish supply in the country is mainly provided through supermarkets, specialized units of food markets and retail shops. A significant part of the fish is sold on farm in gutted form and mainly in gutted and iced form in supermarkets, fish shops and fish markets. The majority of fish is consumed during the Christmas period in the Republic Srpska.

There are three modern fish processing plants in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Banja Luka, in Salakovac and in Rogatica. These factories use modern technologies in accordance with EU standards and are authorized to exporting fish to EU. The total annual capacity of these three factories is about 3700 tonnes.

Foreign owners run a processing plant (located in Stolac, Herzegovina-Neretva Canton) to salt anchovies. About 500-1400 tonnes of fish are transported from Croatia to this plant annually for processing. The quantity of fish processed here depends on the success of catch.
Socio-economic contribution of the fishery sectorRole of fisheries in the national economyThe value of aquaculture production was about 26 million USD in 2011. The contribution of the agricultural sector to the national economy was 7.4 percent in 2012. The contribution of the aquaculture sector to agricultural GDP was around 1.24 percent, and it was about 0.15 percent of the total GDP in 2008.TradeThe contribution of fish and other marine products to livestock and food export was 6.8 percent and for imports it represented 3.5 percent during the period of 2005-2008 (Sector Report, Development Bank of Turkey). In addition to exports to EU, fish are also exported to neighboring countries. Imports totaled 13 200 tonnes in 2009. The quality of imported seafood is controlled by the Food Safety Agency.EmploymentAbout 0.1 percent (1 100-1 200 persons) of the labour force work in the aquaculture sector. The majority of the workers completed primary or secondary school but have no specialized education in aquaculture.Rural developmentThe direct role of aquaculture in rural development cannot be determined easily, since the number of employees is low in comparison to other sectors and the fish is not a primary food item in the country. However, sport fishing has a crucial role in the life of communities that live close to rivers or lakes. Sport fishing supports the development of formal (Sport Fishing Societies) and informal groups. Environmental awareness is well developed in these groups, which helps to improve the conditions which are necessary for development of tourism. Angling is a significant branch of sport tourism and generates income for many people.
Trends, issues and developmentConstraints and opportunities
  • Fish consumption is low in the country.
  • Accessibility to fish is limited in remote/rural areas.
  • Tax free export quota to EU is very low.
  • Regulation of aquaculture/fisheries sector is not fully elaborated and not harmonized between entities.
  • Fish farms discharge substantial quantities of metabolites and cause significant environmental loading in the recipients. Efforts should be made to decrease the organic and inorganic content of the discharged water by providing support for the introduction of mechanical filtration of farm effluents.
  • There are no plants suitable for the treatment/cleaning of industrial and domestic wastewaters in sufficient quantity.
  • Environmental awareness is lacking.
  • A scientifically acceptable restocking strategy of natural waters is missing.
  • Sport fishing tourism infrastructure is not satisfactory.
Community leaders and politicians are aware of the value of natural resources in the country and they recognize the role of aquaculture in food supply and in income generation. There are significant efforts to improve the conditions for utilization of these resources through the establishment of effective legislation.
Government and non-government sector policies and development strategies
  • The new, harmonized fisheries law should be introduced in order to simplify the establishment and running of fish farms and for getting concessions/rights for using water bodies.
  • The environmental legislation should be applied consistently for protection of water bodies from direct and indirect negative effects.
  • Long-term harmonized aquaculture and fisheries development plans should be elaborated.
  • Independent departments responsible for all aspects of fisheries and aquaculture should be established in the frame of the Ministries of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management in each entity, and their work should be harmonized.
  • Government subsidies for table fish production should be increased to the level of subsidies applied in neighboring countries.
  • The custom-tax free export quota to EU should be increased.
  • Loans accessible to fish farmers should be introduced.
  • The establishment of small fish farms should be supported to improve fish supply in remote regions.
  • A marketing strategy should be developed to increase fish consumption.
  • Fingerling production and culture of autochthon and endemic fish species should be supported for the re-establishment of native fish populations and using rainbow trout for restocking natural waters should be banned.
  • Development of infrastructure for serving angling/sport tourism should be supported.

Research, education and trainingResearchResearch related to aquaculture and fisheries is carried out by the:
  • Faculty of Science of the University of Sarajevo,
  • Faculty of Science of the University of Banja Luka,
  • Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Sarajevo and Mostar,
  • Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Banja Luka,
  • Veterinary Faculty of the University of Sarajevo,
  • Institute for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology.
These institutes are capable of carrying out ecological surveys on water bodies for the preparation of scientifically adequate restocking strategies. However, the water users can only exceptionally afford to order the surveys. The Institute for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology investigates the genetic structure of brown trout populations. The Faculties of Agriculture of the Universities and the Veterinarian Faculty concentrate on applied research using their own funds and the funds supplied by Agricultural Ministries.
Education and trainingThe practical aspects of aquaculture are taught at the Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Sarajevo. The training is based on a training centre that was established with the support of the Turkish and Norwegian Governments, in Konjic. The Veterinary Faculty of the University of Sarajevo has on-line training available for aquaculture. However, aquaculture education should be increased. Training in secondary schools and postgraduate training are necessary for aquaculturists and for Veterinarian Inspectors.
Foreign aidThe government of Bosnia and Herzegovina played a crucial role in the reconstruction of fish farms after the war and fostered farm privatization. The aquaculture/fisheries sector was one of the most prosperous branches of agriculture after the war. The achievement of the sector was based on self-financing and could adapt quickly to the demand of international markets. Foreign support played an essential role in the development of the Aquatic Animal Health Strategy which harmonized the legislations to EU rules and to OIE standards. This was essential for getting the right to export fish to EU countries. The project included the development of an institutional structure, establishment of diagnostic laboratories, capacity building. FAO, USAID and the EU supported the establishment of regional water management projects. An office of Regional Environmental Centre was established and maintained by the Norwegian government at Neretva River. A water recirculation based fish hatchery was established by a Norwegian government financed FAO project at River Krusnica.
Institutional frameworkThe Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations (MoFTER) controls the aquaculture sector trough the State Veterinarian Office and Food Safety Agency. The Association of Fish Producers (state level) works under the Foreign Trade Chamber of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

There are ministries in both entities responsible for agriculture, forestry and water management. Cantonal ministries in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and municipality departments in Republika Srpska give direct control on aquaculture activity. The fisheries laws applied in the entities are not harmonized at state level.

The structure of the agencies controlling aquaculture and fisheries activities is given below.

Table 3 – Bosnia and Herzegovina - Structure of the agencies controlling aquaculture and fisheries activities

State level

Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations

State Veterinarian Office and Food Safety Agency

Foreign Trade Chamber of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Border Veterinary Inspection

Entity level
Federation Bosnia and Herzegovina Bricko District Republic Srpska



of B&H

Federal Ministry of Agriculture,

Water Management and Forestry

Department of Agriculture,

Forestry and Water Management

Ministry of Agriculture,

Forestry and Water Management

Agricultural Department



Cantonal level

Cantonal Veterinary


Cantonal Ministry of Agriculture, Water Management and Forestry

Agriculture Department


Legal frameworkEnvironmental legislation has been prepared through the EU project, "Preparation of Environmental Law and Policy in Bosnia and Herzegovina" (Regional Environmental Center, 2002).

The environmental laws include:
  • Law on the Protection of the Environment;
  • Law on the Protection of the Waters;
  • Law on the Protection of the Nature;
  • Law on Waste Management;
  • Law on the Protection of the Air;
  • Law on Sport Fisheries.
Bosnia and Herzegovina has ratified or signed some of the most important international conventions and agreements related to aquaculture, including the:
  • Convention on Fishing and Conservation of Living Resources of the High Seas (29 April 1958);
  • Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter (London, December 29, 1972);
  • Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution (Barcelona 1976);
  • Protocol concerning Co-operation in Combating Pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by Oil and other Harmful Substances in Cases of Emergency (Barcelona 1976);
  • Protocol for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution from Land-Based Sources, (Athens 1980);
  • Protocol concerning Mediterranean Specially Protected Areas (Geneva 1982);
  • United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Montego Bay 1982);
  • Biodiversity Convention (Rio de Janeiro 1992).

Agency for Statistics in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Sarajevo, 24.05.2013. No. 2. www.bhas.ba.
Bondad-Reantaso, M.G., Richard Arthur, J., and R.P. Subasinge. 2009. Strengthening aquaculture health management in Bosnia and Herzegovina. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper. No. 524. Rome, FAO. 83 pp.
Gov.of B&H State Veterinary Office. 2009. Draft national aquatic animal health strategy for Bosnia and Herzegovina. FAO Project TCP/BIH/3101. 24 pp.
Hamzic, A. 2003. Akvakultura u Bosni i Herzegovini. Sarajevo, Coron’s. 133 pp.
Hamzic, A., and T. Ecimovic. 2004. Bosnia and Herzegovina freshwater fish production and markets study. Sarajevo, UN/FAO. 33 pp.
Kucukkiremitici, O. 2010. Bosnia and Herzegovina - Sector Reports. Agricultural Sector. Development Bank of Turkey. Ankara. 35 pp.
FAO FishStatJ – Universal software for fishery statistical time series.
FAO National Aquaculture Sector Overview, Bosnia and Herzegovina. http://www.fao.org/fishery/naso/search/en.
Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina, State Veterinary Office. 2009. Veterinary inspector’s checklist for aquaculture farms and fish processing establishments in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Rome, FAO. 14 pp. FAO Project TCP/BIH/3101.
Subotić, F., Eskić, L. 2013. Aquaculture. Agency for Statistics of BiH.
Van Anrooy, R. 2009. Policy and strategy development in aquaculture in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In M.G. Bondad-Reantaso, J.R. Arthur and R.P. Subasinghe (eds.) Strengthening aquaculture health management in Bosnia and Herzegovina. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper. No. 524. Rome, FAO. pp. 11–15.
Vanberg, M.M. J., and M. Sipponen.2010. Commercial inland fishing in member countries of the European Inland Fisheries Advisory Commission (EIFAC): Operational environments, property rights regimes and socio-economic indicators. EIFAC Ad Hoc Working Party on Socio-Economic Aspects of Inland Fisheries. FAO. 113pp.
Word Bank. 2009. From Stability to Performance Local Governance and Service Delivery.

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