Population: 19.5 million (2018, Eurostat)
GDP: €188 billion (2017, Eurostat)
GDP/capita €9 600 (2017, Eurostat)
Overview of the Romanian fisheries and aquaculture sector
Marine fisheries 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 23 EU coastal Member States. The total length of inland waters is more than 7 000 km², about 3% of the total area of the country. Around 900 000 people, or 4.5% of Romania's total population, 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 of stagnating waters, 66 000 km of running waters in the mountain, hill, and plain areas, and 25 000 km² marine waters in 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 are of particular importance in remote areas, where they represent the only source of income for local populations.
Marine fishery takes place exclusively in the Romanian Black Sea national waters. Employing 757 fishermen. The national fishing fleet is largely represented by the small-scale fishery, i.e. vessels less than 12 metres in length. Romania had 155 registered vessels in 2017, with majority of (131) being less than 12 meters. Only 5 vessels are between the lengths of 18 to 29 meters. The fleet targets small pelagic species, such as Black Sea shad and European sprat. In addition, it fishes flatfish (turbot), some shark / dogfish, and, more recently, large sea snail (Rapana whelk). The available quantities of European sprat and turbot are subject to TAC’s (Total Allowable Catches). In 2017, the quota for sprat was 3 442 tonnes while the quota for turbot was 57 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 2017, marine catches and landings totaled 9 553 tonnes due to the increased demand for rapana, which totaled 9 244 tonnes. Rapana, European sprat (Sprattus sprattus), Black Sea shad (Alosa maeotica), turbot (Psetta maxima), and Black Sea shad (Alosa maeotica) are among the main species target by the Romanian fishing fleet. All fish landed is used for human consumption.
Inland fishing is carried out as a main, full-time occupation, often by traditional fishers. In most cases it is a subsistence activity. Commercial inland fishing takes place in rivers, ponds, and reservoirs, including the Danube River, the Danube Delta, and Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve. In 2017, around 2 731 fishing boats and over 4 103 fishermen were involved in inland fishing, with a total estimated catch of 3 592 tonnes. Major commercial fisheries, including 96% of the vessels and 97% of the fishermen, are concentrated on the Danube and its overflow areas, the Delta, and some of its former lagoons.
Cyprinids are by far the most represented species caught, of which 41% is goldfish (Carassius auratus), 13% is pontic shad (Alosa pontica) and 10% is freshwater bream (Abramis brama).
Aquaculture 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, zander and pike. In total, the aquaculture sector produced 12 209 tonnes in 2017. 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 are about 635 production centers in the country in 2015. Nearly all the farms were represented by inland establishments producing freshwater fish. The production of organic common carp has also been initiated, with 29 organic aquaculture farms in 2016. The production of new species for aquaculture is still low, such as sturgeon production. Recently, extensive fish farms have become multifunctional, providing other services such as ecological tourism, recreational fishing, and 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 31 registered fish processing companies in 2016, that employed 1 343 people. The processing industry had a production value of €88.7 million, with an added value of €10.2 million. In 2017, 20 170 tonnes were produced, with preserved/prepared and frozen whole salt water fish being the main product types. The native species commonly used for processing include carp, silver carp, bighead carp, bream, catfish, perch, pike, and trout. The most common imported marine species used for processing are salmon, herring, sprat, and mackerel. There is a great variety of value-added products such as salads, smoked fish, and marinades, as well as primary processed fish which are headless, gutted, or portioned.
Romania imports large amounts of fisheries and aquaculture products. Imports have been steadily increasing since 2011, reaching a value of €272 million and a volume of 107 604 tonnes in 2017. 84% of all imports come from other EU Member States with the Netherlands (14%), Poland (11%), Germany (9%) and Spain (8%) being the main contributors. Herring and mackerel are the main imported species. Among non-EU countries, Turkey is the biggest exporter with a value of €9.9 million and volume of 3,089 tonnes of fisheries and aquaculture products.
Romanian exports levels have been fluctuating over the past several years. In 2017, Romania exported €21.9 million worth of fisheries and aquaculture products, reaching a volume of 6,264 tones. The major export market was the EU (72%). Italy, Bulgaria and Greece being the main destinations. Moldova was the largest non-EU country receiving imports from Romania, with 21% of all non-EU exports. Salmon was the largest commodity group exported to Moldova.
Romanian consumers traditionally prefer meat products, and 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 6.2 kg per capita in 2015 (live weight equivalent). The majority of fish and fisheries products are distributed and sold through supermarket chains. Romanian’s household consumption is dominated by live/fresh fish, followed by frozen fish, and marinated and prepared products. The top four preferred species are trout, carp, mackerel, and salmon.
The main challenges in the commercial fisheries of inland and marine fishing involve investing in the modernization of ports and the fishing fleet, promoting fisheries products, implementing an integrated traceability system for monitoring the entire supply chain. The predation of wild animals and incoherent and unreasonably restrictive legislation constrain development of the aquaculture sector. Other external constraints include climate changes, the low incentive for innovation, and the inefficient collaboration among farmers and science.
Regarding the processing sector, across all regions, there are identified needs related to the efficiency of the production activities, the use of allocated structural funds, and state intervention measures. Product diversification is very important especially for valuable species to attract new national and international markets.
Useful Links for Romania
- 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