- Capital: Vilnius
- Population: 2.8 million(2018, Eurostat)
- GDP: €42.2 billion (2018, Eurostat)
- GDP/capita: €14 800 (2017, Eurostat)
Overview of Lithuania’s fisheries and aquaculture sector
Lithuania has a relatively short coastline of only 90 km, and its territorial waters and exclusive economic zone in the Baltic Sea amount to 7 000 km2. Lithuania has significant inland waters covering 2 621 km2, 4% of the country’s territory. There are 2 827 lakes with a surface greater than 0.5 ha (87 359 ha), 1 589 ponds (24 434 ha), and 731 rivers longer than 10km (32 601 ha) including the largest rivers Nemunas and Neris.
Fisheries have a long tradition and plays an important role in small communities in coastal areas. The sector employs 6 037 full-time workers: 565 in fisheries, 431 in aquaculture, and 5 041 in fish processing. About two thirds of the employees are women who are traditionally employed in the fish processing industry.
The Lithuanian fleet is divided into 3 segments: small-scale operating in the Baltic Sea coastal area, large-scale operating in the Baltic Sea, and the long-distance fleet that is the largest in terms of capacity and economic size.
Marine fisheries represent most of the total Lithuanian catch. Total capture by marine fisheries in 2018 was 70 196 tonnes, which included the Baltic Sea, long-distance ocean and coastal fisheries. Lithuania’s fishing fleet numbered 147 vessels in 2018, most being small coastal fishing vessels under 12 meters long (106), while only 31 fishing vessels operate in the open Baltic Sea. Lithuania has 10 long distance fishing vessels which operate in areas regulated by North West Atlantic Fisheries organization (NAFO), the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) and South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization (SPRFMO).
The Baltic Sea marine fishery that also includes the coastal fishery captured 24 748 tonnes of fish. The four main commercial species are cod, herring, sprat and plaice. Although Baltic sprat contributes two thirds of the catch, cod (775 tonnes) is important due to its high value. Catches of herring were 6 676 tonnes and 365 tonnes of flounder. Nearly all the fish landed is used for human consumption.
The operating high-seas fishing fleet contributes the largest share in volume and value to Lithuanian total catches. Approximately 64% of all 2018 total catches are from this segment. The value of this segment is 90% of the total. Targeted species in both the Mauritanian and Moroccan exclusive economic zone are the Atlantic horse mackerel and chub mackerel. Vessels also operate in the Pacific Ocean.
Inland fisheries account for a little under 2% of Lithuania’s total catches. 1 090 tonnes were captured in 2017 with the Curonian Lagoon being the most significant inland fis
hing area. Targeted species include bream, roach, pike perch and vimba.
The Lithuanian aquaculture sector produced around 3 740 tonnes of fish in 2017, from which 3 406 tonnes were for consumption and 330 tonnes as juveniles for further growing. Total value of aquaculture production in 2017 was €12.1 million. The most common production method is ponds, around 87% of total production. Total pond area in 2017 was 9 651 hectares. The most commonly farmed species is carp, representing around 78% of all fish farmed. In terms of production value, the most important species after carp is European eel, produced in RAS, sturgeon from tanks and raceways and African catfish form RAS. For the RAS aquaculture segment rainbow trout is another important species, in terms of volume and value produced. In 2017, 26% of total production were certified as organic. According to the preliminary results, aquaculture production in 2018 decreased by 1% to 3 710 tonnes, whereas value of production increased by 2.5% to €12.4 million. In 2018, value of production was predominantly from carps, while other species such as European eel, sturgeons, African catfish and rainbow trout also contributed. In 2017, aquaculture production volume was, carps accounted for the majority 2 940 tonnes followed by African catfish 167 tonnes, bighead carp 164 tonnes and sturgeon 120 tonnes. In 2018, total production is estimated at carps contributed 2 900 tonnes, African catfish 214 tonnes, bighead carp 122 tonnes and sturgeon 119 tonnes.
In 2017, aquaculture sector employed 431 people from which 78% were male and 22% females. Around 45% of total employees belonged to 25-39 age group. Almost the same percentage of employees, 44% represented the 40-64 age group, while only 6% was 15-24 year and 5% were >65 year old.
Current trends in Lithuanian aquaculture is related to development of RAS aquaculture systems to produce more higher value species and increase production assortment. The second important driver of value for aquaculture production is increasing vertical integration between farming and processing. In 2017 aquaculture farms processed 12% more aquaculture products compared to 2016.
In 2017, 79% of total aquaculture production was sold on the domestic market. The main export market for Lithuanian aquaculture production was Poland and Latvia, corresponding to the 51% and 41% of total exports respectively.
There is no marine aquaculture in Lithuania.
Processing and trade
Lithuanian processing sector is important due to its economic size and employment rate. In 2018, there were 95 fish processing companies distributed across almost all the regions of the country – 12% more companies than in 2017. Fish processing companies in 2017 employed more than 5 041 employees all together, and in 2018, according to the preliminary results the number of employees increased by 3%, to approximately 5 200 employees.
Preliminary data indicates, that total production of processed fish reached 126 000 tonnes in 2018, increase of 3% compared to 2017. Production (122 000 tonnes) in 2017 was a 1% increase on 2016. The value of production in 2018 was almost €696 million, 13% more than in 2017, which was a substantial increase compared to the previous period: the value of production in 2017 peaked at €617 million, 3% more than in 2016.
The structure of main species used for processing in 2017-2018 period was steady: salmon, which accounted for 36.5% of all produced fish in 2017 and 33.6% in 2018; herring, 12% of all produced fish in 2017 and 11.7% in 2018; cod, 8.6% of all produced fish in 2017 and 7.1% in 2018. The largest share of all processed products both in 2017 and 2018 were surimi products, which accounted for 30% of all processed fish products in 2017 and almost 34% in 2018. 32% of all processed fish in 2017 were smoked fish (including fillets) and 14% were prepared as frozen fish fillets. Whereas in 2018, smoked fish (including fillets) accounted for almost 29% of all processed fish products, and 18% were prepared as frozen fish fillets.
Most of the material used by fish processing companies for processed fish products (95% in 2017, 96% in 2018) were imported, which in both 2017 and 2018 accounted for 72% of all imported fish and fish products into Lithuania. The remaining 28% were for reexport or for end-user consumption. However, on average only 36% of products processed in Lithuanian fish processing companies are exported abroad: 30% to EU countries and 6 % to non-EU countries. 64% of processed fish products were for consumption in Lithuania.
The main export market of fish and fish products from Lithuania both in 2017 and 2018 were in the EU with Germany, Denmark, Latvia and Italy as the most important destinations.
The key challenge for the fishing sector is to develop environmentally sustainable and profitable fisheries by enhancing the competitiveness of fisheries businesses and reducing the impact of fishing on the marine environment.
The aquaculture sector aims to increase energy efficiency and renewable energy use in pond aquaculture and to encourage the use of closed recirculation systems. Farming of species that can open new markets and fetch higher prices, while preserving traditional extensive aquaculture and organic production, is also a priority.
The main challenge in the processing industry is improving market organisation, and increasing profitability to make the entire supply chain more sustainable, and reducing dependency on imported raw materials.