Population: 37.9 million (2016, Eurostat)
GDP: €757 billion (2015, Eurostat)
GDP/capita: €10,900 (2015, 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 impacts diversification of economic activities in local communities, particularly 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 Northeast Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC), in the North Sea, and in waters under the jurisdiction of Mauritania, Angola, and Guinea. In 2015, the national fleet consisted of 875 registered vessels with a combined gross tonnage of 34,000 GT, a total power of 82,000 kW, and an average age of 28 years. Between 2008 and 2015, the number of vessels decreased 9 % and GT and kW decreased 26 % and 23 % respectively. This is 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 consisted of 556 registered vessels, with a combined gross tonnage of 2,700 GT, a total power of 21,400 kW and an average age of 21 years.
In 2015, the total catch of the Polish fishing fleet was nearly 187,100 tonnes. Of this, the total amount of Baltic Sea landings was 120,000 tonnes, with a landed value of €56 million. The main species caught by Polish fishermen in the Baltic Sea include cod, sprat, herring, salmon, sea trout, and flatfish. Polish long-distance sea vessels fish primarily for cod, saithe, redfish, halibut, mackerel, and horse mackerel. The inland fisheries production from the country’s 270,000 ha of lakes was approximately 2,689 tonnes in 2014, and were mainly bream, pike and roach.
The Polish aquaculture sector has a long history, with the first records of activity from around the 12th century. The oldest fish farms are located on the Polish territories of Osiek, Zator, Przygodzie. and Lyszkowice. Despite the fact these farms are at least 8 to 10 centuries old, they are still functional. The farming is represented exclusively by land-based freshwater farms, and is carried out in traditional earth ponds in a 3-year cycle, a system which is limited to very few Central and Eastern European countries.
In 2015, total national aquaculture production reached 38,590 tonnes – an 8 % increase compared to 2013. The biggest category is carp production, which amounted to 19,000 tonnes and made up over 50 % of total aquaculture output in 2014. Carp farming is carried out in earth ponds on traditional land-based farms. The total registered area of carp farms in the country is about 70,000 hectares, the largest in Europe. The output of rainbow trout was 15,000 tonnes. Compared to carp, rainbow trout farming is a nascent industry in the country, having started only in the 20th century. The active development of trout farming started at the end of 1990s, and production has been stagnating over the past few years. Trout production is carried out in intensive fish production facilities and trout is harvested when it reaches the size of about 200–450g. Trout farms are located to the north, on the Baltic Sea coast, and in the south, in the Carpathian foothills. The aquaculture sector employs 4,400 FTE employees.
Processing and trade
Over the past decade, the Polish fish processing sector has gone through 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 Polish fish processing industry produces 42,450 thousand tonnes annually, with a value of €0.48 billion in income. The industry employed approximately 12,300 people in 2014. There are 250 processing plants capable of export to the European Union in addition to several hundred small, often family-run companies which are permitted to sell products only to regional markets.
Poland is one of the biggest salmon importers in the world. In total, Poland imported 621,529 tonnes of fish and seafood for a value of €1.59 billion in 2016. Sweden was the main supplier of fish as raw materials to Poland, while other significant partners include Norway, China, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, and others. Polish fish processing plants import significant amounts of 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. Another important raw material is imported salmon, fresh and gutted to be filleted and smoked in Poland, mainly for re-export. 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 2016, Poland exported 125,361 tonnes of seafood products valued €1.45 billion. 90 % of the exported volume was sent to European countries. Over 59 % of production is exported to Germany, with the rest destined for the United Kingdom, France, and Denmark, as well as to other European and non-European countries.
In 2014, the average annual fish consumption was 13 kg per capita (live weight equivalent) - almost 50 % below the average per capita fish consumption in the EU. Pollock, herring, and mackerel are the most popular saltwater species, while carp, trout, and panga are the most popular freshwater species. Despite a large variety of imported species, sales of domestic fish keep growing. Consumption of pollock, the number one fish consumed in Poland, is growing due to relatively low prices compared to other fish, while carp is the most traditional national species. It is served during the Christmas period when the market supply is at the highest level. Recently, producers have been trying to extend the carp-selling season, providing value-added carp products all year-round and supporting sales with advertising campaigns. At present, the annual average consumption of carp is 0.45 kg per capita, with little competition from other 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 benefiting from campaigns promoting consumption and the health benefits of fish and seafood. Rising health awareness is indicated 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.
National authorities are undertaking a series of measures to increase fish consumption, particularly among young consumers. For example, several promotion campaigns were launched recently, such as “Fish influences all”, “Mr. Carp”, “Fish products from Poland”, and ‘Trout now”, and leaflets “Practical hints for fish consumers” were printed.
The key challenges in Polish fisheries are sustainable exploitation of fisheries, increased sector profitability, and sustained employment. In the aquaculture sector, one objective is significant production growth to 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 use 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
- Ministry of Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation
- 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
- Official promotional website of the Republic of Poland