Fish, seafood, fish products and aquaculture in Albania

(from “Report on existing GAPs and Best Practices”) Albania is a country rich in water resources, with a coastline of 476 km, where fishing activities take place, including its territorial waters (12 miles from its baseline). However, fishing activities are 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 lonian Sea. The inland water relies on 10,600 ha split among eight large coastal lagoons that support commercial fisheries. In addition, inland fisheries benefit from 247 natural lakes with a total surface area of 1,210 sq. km among which fishing mainly takes place in five lakes, four of which are large cross border lakes, namely Shkodra, Ohrid, and the major and minor Prespa lakes.

Following the transition process initiated in 1991, the fisheries sector started a development process still progressing based on the capacities inherited from the past. Indicators of such development include, for instance, the frequent consumption of fish among the Albanian population in the northeast that once did not consume fish at all, the tremendous augmentation of fish shops for instance in Tirana compared with not long time ago and the gradual increasing trend of the average annual per capita consumption of fisheries and aquaculture products from the 4.9 kg/year assessed in 2010 to the estimated 5.3 kg/year in 2016.

Today fisheries (including wild fisheries and fish farming) take important place in Albanian economy, even though the contribution of the sector to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is relatively low at 0.3%. The sector embeds high growing potentials to be exploited through formulation and adoption of appropriate policies sustained by efficient investments.

Marine fishing provides more than 52% of the catch and 61% of the value with coastal lagoons and inland waters yielding respectively 21% of the catch but only 13% of the value. Aquaculture has been increasing in importance with 27% of the catch and 26% of the value.

The total full-time employment in the fisheries and aquaculture is estimated at more than 4200 persons with a significant number of women employed by the processing industry and ancillary services.
The total fisheries primary production increased in the last years with significant contribution provided by the marine fishing, the growing share of aquaculture production and a minor contribution by the inland waters showing however a growing trend. On the opposite, coastal lagoons production is showing a shrinking trend.

The fish processing industry is represented by 24 companies authorised to process fish that is destined for export to the EU markets. The principal processing companies are in Elbasan, Lezha, Durrès and Shkoder.

Concerning the market of fisheries products, the trend indicates that about 25-30% of the production is traded in the local market (preferentially supplied with the products from artisanal fishing), something less in the region where less attractive prices are offered than in the European countries and the remaining is oriented to the export to EU market. The export of fish and seafood is quadrupling, compared to 2013 , during 2019 the value of Albanian fish exports reached 100 million euros and during the first six months of 2020 a further increase of 24.5% was recorded. Main exported aquaculture products are marine finfish and preserved products (finfish and molluscs).

The development of the aquaculture sector has followed the domestic consumer demand, especially for marine finfish products and its growing trend is better performing than fisheries. Nevertheless, import of marine aquaculture products (sea bass and sea bream) is necessary to fully cover the domestic demand.

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