Population: 19.76 million (2016, Eurostat)
GDP: €323 billion
Overview of the Romanian fisheries and aquaculture sector
Situated in south-east Europe, Romania has a coastline 256 km long, which represents 5.3% of the total Black Sea coastline and 0.5% of the total coastline of EU-23 coastalMember States. The total length of inland waters for inland fishing is more than 7,000 km², or about 3% of the total area of the country. Around 4.53% of Romania's total population (900,000 persons) live in coastal areas.
The Danube has a total length of 1,074 km in Romania, corresponding to about 3,430 km² and holding an average of about 2.23 million m³ of water. The most important inland fisheries are located here. The areas which are of interest for activities are estimated at 500,000 ha stagnating waters, 66,000 km of running waters (in the mountain, hill, and plain areas) and marine waters–25,000 km² the Black Sea Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ). The main ports used by fishermen for landing catches are Mangalia, Olimp, Costineşti, Mamaia, and Cape Midia. Fisheries and aquaculture sector’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is estimated at around 0,0086%. Fisheries and aquaculture are of particularly importance in the remote areas, where they represent the only source of income for the local population.
Marine fishery takes place exclusively in the Romanian Black Sea national waters. The national fishing fleet is almost entirely represented by the small-scale fishery, i.e. vessels less than 12m length and it employs 825 fishermen. Romania has 130 registered vessels in 2016. The fleet targets particularly small pelagic species, such as Black Sea shad and European sprat. In addition, it fishes flatfish (turbot), some shark/dogfish and, more recently, a large sea snail-Thomas’ rapa whelk. The available quantities of European sprat and turbot are subject to the EC TAC (Total Allowable Catches). In 2016, the quota for sprat was 3,442 tonnes and for turbot, 43.2 tonnes. The fishing activity is seasonal and is dependent on the weather conditions in the Black Sea, where there are large differences of temperature between winter and summer, as well as strong winds.
In 2016, marine catches and landings were of 6,231 tonnes, due to the increased demand for rapana. The main species in volume were Thomas' rapa whelk (Rapana venosa) – 5,917 tonnes, European sprat (Sprattus sprattus) , Black Sea shad (Alosa maeotica), turbot (Psetta maxima), and Black Sea shad (Alosa maeotica). All fish landed is used for human consumption.
Inland fishing is carried out as main, full time occupations, often by traditional fishers. In most of the cases, it is a subsistence activity. Commercial inland fishing takes place in rivers, ponds, reservoirs, including the Danube River, the Danube Delta, and Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve. In 2016, 1,600 fishing boats and over 2,500 fishermen were involved in inland fishing with total estimeited catch of 3,690 tonnes. Major commercial fisheries (62% of the vessels and 45% of the fishermen) are concentrated on the Danube and its overflow areas, the Delta and some of its former lagoons.
Catches have remained stable over the past years. Cyprinids are by far the most represented species caught of which the most popular are goldfish (Carassius auratus) - 44,6%, freshwater bream (Abramis brama) - 9,9%, roach (Rutilus rutilus) - 7,3%, and common carp (Cyprinus carpio) - 6,6%.
Aquaculture sector is predominantly freshwater, and the country's land resources and availability of inland waters provide excellent conditions for the development of aquaculture. The most important cultured fish species is represented by cyprinids, particularly common carp. Other species are trout, wels, zander and pike. In total, aquaculture sector produced 11,016 tonnes in 2015. The growth of the national aquaculture production can be attributed to the expanded production of carp in polyculture, in an extensive or semi-intensive way.
There were 635 production centers in the country in 2015. Nearly all the farms were represented by inland establishments producing freshwater fish. There were registered 501 centers with production of carp species, 132 centers with production of trout and other salmon species, 1 turbot farm and 1 mussel farm as well as 4 hatcheries for freshwater fish, including 3 hatcheries for cyprinids species and 1 hatchery for salmonids species. The production of organic common carp has also been initiated what resulted with 29 organic aquaculture farms in 2016. The new species production occurred in aquaculture is still low, such as sturgeon species production. Recently the extensive fish farms have become multifunctional and provide other service such as: ecological tourism, recreational fishing, educational activities related to the knowledge and protection of aquatic biodiversity. There is a trend to diversify and increase the current aquaculture activities.
Processing and trade
There were 9 registered fish processing companies in 2015 with a total production of 4,150 tonnes Processing is made for both freshwater and marine species. The native species commonly used for processing include carp, silver carp, bighead carp, bream, catfish, perch, pike, and trout. The most common marine species (imported) used for processing are salmon, herring, sprat, and mackerel. There is a great variety of value-added products such as salads, smoked, marinades, as well as primary processed fish (headless, gutted or portioned).
Imports of fisheries and aquaculture products from the EU countries increased substantially in the past years. In 2014, Poland was the major country-supplier of fisheries and aquaculture products to the Romanian market with a share of 16% in the total imports, followed by the Netherlands (14%) and Spain (14%). The total imports of fisheries and aquaculture products reached 92,316 tonnes in 2014; it is almost equal as in 2010. In terms of value, imports of fisheries and aquaculture products amounted to €185 million, increasing by €44 million over the same period.
Romania exports its fisheries and aquaculture products to a wide range of countries with Bulgaria, Italy, and Greece as the main destinations. In 2014, these countries were responsible for over a half of Romanian export of all fisheries and aquaculture products. The total exports of fisheries and aquaculture products from Romania remained stable in 2010–2014, accounting to 6,216 tonnes in 2014. In contrast, the export value increased 30% over the same period reaching €20 million.
Romanian consumers traditionally prefer meat products, while the consumption of fisheries and aquaculture products is far below the EU average. However, the national average apparent consumption of fisheries and aquaculture products followed an upwards trend in the recent years, reaching 6.3 kg per capita in 2015 (live weight equivalent – kg/capita per year). The great majority of fish and fish products are distributed and sold through hyper-and supermarkets chains. Romanian’s household consumption is dominated by live/fresh fish, followed by frozen fish, as well as marinated and prepared products. The top three preferred species are trout, carp, mackarel, and salmon.
The main challenges in commercial fisheries (inland and marine fishing) are investing in the modernization of ports, fishing fleet, promoting fishery products, implementing an integrated traceability system for monitoring the entire supply chain from capture to final consumer, compensation, and subsidies for unforeseen circumstances. The predation of wild animals and often incoherent and unreasonably restrictive legislation and other external factors, can be mentioned as constraints of development of the aquaculture sector. Such factors include climate changes, heavy discrimination of fish producers compared with the other agricultural farmers, the low impetus of innovation, the inefficient collaboration among farmers and between science and practice.
As regard to the processing sector; across all regions, identified needs for processing are related to the efficiency of the production activity, the use of allocated funds and state intervention measures. A product diversification is very important especially valuable species, to attract new market share to national and international market.
Useful Links for Romania
- Ministry of Environment and Climate Change-Department of Waters, Forests and Fisheries (Romanian)
- Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development
- ANPA (National Agency for Fisheries and Aquaculture)
- Managing Authority for Operational Programme for Fisheries (Romanian)
- RomFish - Association of Fish Producers (Romanian)
- Danube Delta National Institute for Research and Development
- Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve Authority
- National Institute for Marine Research and Development
- The Fish Culture Research and Development Station