Population: 37,9 million (2018, Eurostat)
GDP: €465 billion (2017, Eurostat)
GDP/capita: €12 100 (2017, Eurostat)
Overview of the Polish fisheries and aquaculture sector
Poland, situated in central Europe and bordering the Baltic Sea to its north, has a coastline of 775 km, including the Szczecin and Vistula lagoons, which account for 0.74% of the total EU coastline. Although the fisheries sector represents a minor part of the Polish gross domestic product (GDP), it nevertheless plays an important role in some regions and has an influence on diversification of economic activities in local communities, particularly in rural areas.
The Polish fleet consists of two major segments, the Baltic fleet, and the long-distance fleet; the latter operates mainly in areas managed by the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC), in the North Sea, and in waters under the jurisdiction of Mauritania, Angola, and Guinea. In 2017, the national fleet consisted of 834 registered vessels with a combined gross tonnage of 27 559 GT, and a total power of 76 287 kW. Two thirds of the fleet are aged 25 years and over. In recent years there has been a decrease in the number of vessels in the Polish fishing fleet. Partly, due to the decommissioning programme implemented in the country after the EU accession, as well as the Fishing Effort Adjustment Plan adopted in 2010. The Polish small-scale fleet (<12meters) consisted of 670 registered vessels, with a combined gross tonnage of 1 746 GT, a total power of 23 311 kW and an average age of 21 years.
In 2017, the total marine catch was 204 039 tonnes. Baltic sea fisheries targeted species such as cod, herring and sprat. Polish long-distance sea vessels fish primarily for cod, saithe, redfish, halibut, mackerel, and horse mackerel. There has been a steady increase in total catches over recent years. Poland has a small freshwater fishery. In 2017, the fishery captured 3 065 tonnes. The main species captured are carp, perch, roach and bream.
The Polish aquaculture sector has a long history, with the first records of activity dating to the 12th century. The oldest fish farms are located on the Polish territories of Osiek, Zator, Przygodzie and Lyszkowice. These farms are at least 8 to 10 centuries old but are still functional. The farming is represented predominantly by freshwater farms and is carried out in traditional earth ponds in a 3-year cycle, a system also seen in other Central and Eastern European countries.
In 2016, total aquaculture production reached 35 452 tonnes, a 6% increase compared to 2015. the biggest category is carp production, which amounted to 19 tonnes and made up 53% of total aquaculture output in 2016. Carp farming is carried out in earth ponds. Output of rainbow trout was 14 tonnes. Compared to carp, rainbow trout farming is a developing industry in the country, having started only in the 20th century. The active development of trout farming started at the end of the 1990s, and production has stagnated over the past few years. Trout production is carried out in intensive fish production facilities and trout is harvested when it reaches 200–450g in weight. Trout farms are located to the north, on the Baltic Sea coast, and in the south, in the Carpathian foothills. The value of the aquaculture industry reached €91.4 million for 2016. The sector has 6 344 employees, this was a decrease of 12% from the previous year.
Processing and trade
Over the past decade, the processing sector has gone through a considerable transformation, and, at present, it is one of the largest in Europe. It plays a major role in supplying European countries with processed fish products such as smoked fish, mainly salmon and trout, canned herring, mackerel, and sprat, and ready-to-eat fish products like salads and fish in marinades. Other products include fresh and frozen cod fillets, ready-to-prepare frozen fish fillets, freshwater and diadromous fish such as pike-perch, as well as fresh and frozen whole fish like trout and sprat.
The processing industry produced just over half a million tonnes with a value of €2.2 billion. In 2016, there were 304 companies that employed 17 967 people.
In total, Poland imported 553 308 tonnes of fish and seafood for a value of €1.85 billion in 2017. Sweden (31%) was the main supplier of fish as raw materials to Poland, while other significant partners include Norway, China, Germany and Denmark. Poland is one of the biggest salmon importers in the world, with 45% of imports being salmon (value of €821 million).
Processing plants import significant amounts of small pelagic fish, such as herring fillets and mackerel, which are usually frozen and used for smoking and production of marinated fish, salads, and canned fish. Due to its great processing potential, Poland also imports white fish, which are filleted as well as breaded and frozen. Among finished products, the import of frozen white fish fillets such as pollock, panga, cod, salmon, herring and canned tuna play a major role.
In 2017, Poland exported 445 449 tonnes of fisheries and aquaculture products valued €2.02 billion. 93% of the volume was exported to other European Union countries. 54% of production is exported to Germany, with the majority of the remainder destined for the United Kingdom, France, and Denmark, and small amounts to other European and non-European countries. Approximately two thirds of the products exported to Germany are smoked and prepared/preserved fish products.
In 2017, per capita consumption of fish in Poland was 12.4 kg, this is about half of the EU average. There has been a negative trend in consumption over the last few years, from 13 kg/per capita in 2014. Herring, pollock and mackerel are the most popular salt water species, while carp and trout are the most consumed freshwater species.
There is a growing awareness among Polish consumers regarding fish and seafood consumption. They are choosing fish products with more care and attention, getting information about products, and are influenced by campaigns promoting consumption and the health benefits of fish and seafood. Rising health awareness is thought to be the most popular reason for fish consumption. In recent years, Poland has observed a dynamic development of sushi bars and restaurants, including major sushi bar chains.
The key challenges for Polish fisheries are the sustainable exploitation of stocks, increased sector profitability, and sustained employment. In the aquaculture sector, one objective is to produce 51 600 tonnes by 2023; this includes a growth of 6 000 tonnes from recirculation systems and increased contribution to sustainable employment and environmental protection.
Regarding processing, Poland aims to increase the sector's competitiveness through more effective utilisation of resources, raw materials, waste, and discards, as well as to support the market by building a distribution chain and improving the quality of products.
Useful Links for Poland
- National Marine Fisheries Research Institute
- Inland Fisheries Institute
- Polish Association of Fish Processors
- Mister Carp from Polish ponds
- Trout Producers Association
- Polish Fish Market Development Association
- Institute of Agricultural and Food Economics