by Thomas Jensen
  • Capital: Bucharest
  • Population: 19 million (2022, Eurostat)
  • GDP: €286 billion (2022, Eurostat)
  • GDP/capita: €15 010 (2022, Eurostat)

Overview of the Romanian fisheries and aquaculture sector

Marine fisheries sector

ROM Fish

Situated in southeast Europe, Romania has a coastline 256 km long, representing 5.3% of the total Black Sea coastline and 0.5% of the total coastline of the 22 EU coastal Member States. Around 900 000 people, or 4.5% of Romania’s total population, live in coastal areas.

Marine fishing is exclusively in Romanian territorial waters in the Black Sea. The national fishing fleet is mostly small-scale, i.e. vessels less than 12 metres in length. According to the national statistics, Romania had 171 registered vessels in 2022, with the majority (145) being under 12 meters. Five vessels are much larger, between 18 and 40 meters. In 2022, marine catches and landings totalled 3 017 tonnes. The main commercial species is rapa whelk (Rapana venosa), whose share in the total marine catch volumes was 77%. The fleet also targets Mediterranean mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis) – 14% of the volume — as well as turbot (Psetta maxima), European anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus), and red mullet (Mullus barbatus), though the annual share of fish species is less than 10% altogether.

The fishing activity is seasonal and depends on the weather conditions in the Black Sea, where there are large differences of temperature between winter and summer, as well as strong winds.

All fish landed is used for human consumption. The main ports used by fishers for landing catches include Mangalia, Olimp, Costineşti, Mamaia, and Cape Midia. Fisheries and aquaculture are of particular importance in remote areas, where they represent the primary source of income for local populations.

Inland fisheries

The total area of inland waters exceeds 7 000 km², about 3% of the total area of the country. The Danube, home of Romania’s most important inland fisheries, has a total length of 1,074 km in Romania, corresponding to about 3 430 km² and holding an average of about 2.2 million cubic metres of water. Other waters that are of interest for inland fisheries activities include 500 000 ha of stagnating waters and 66 000 km of running waters in the mountain, hill, and plain areas.

Inland fishing is a full-time occupation practiced mainly 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. Most of the fishing activities are concentrated on the Danube and its overflow areas, the Delta, and some of its former lagoons. In 2022 the catches from inland waters amounted to 62 tonnes. Cyprinid species dominate the catch. The largest annual average share of around 45% belongs to Prussian carp (Carassius auratus gibelio), followed by freshwater bream (Abramis brama) with a share of around 10%. Another important commercial species is pontic shad (Alosa pontica), a member of the herring family, but the catches are not stable and vary considerably from year to year.


ROM Aqua

Aquaculture is predominantly freshwater, and the country’s land resources and availability of inland waters provide excellent conditions for fish farming. The number of cultivated species is over 30, and the most important cultured fish species belong to the Cyprinidae family, particularly common carp, as well as bighead, silver, and crucian carps. Other species are trout and sturgeons, and to lesser extent pike-perch, African catfish, and pike among others. In 2021 the aquaculture sector produced 11 714 tonnes worth € 35.9 million (estimated by Eurostat). Cyprinids amounted to 71% of the total volumes, and trout to 23%.


In 2020, the sector employed 2 332 people of which 1 851 (1 492 men and 359 women) worked full-time. Nearly all the farms (over 500) produced freshwater fish. The production of species new to Romanian aquaculture, such as sturgeon, is still low. Recently, extensive fish farms have become multifunctional, providing services such as ecological tourism, recreational fishing, and educational activities related to knowledge about and protection of aquatic biodiversity. There is a trend to diversify and increase the current range of aquaculture activities.

Processing and trade

ROM Proc

There were 37 registered fish processing companies in 2020, which employed 1 223 people, and the production sales amounted €109.5 million. Romania’s traditional Salată de Icre (salad made from carp, pike, and herring roes) was the major product with a 40% share, though this share may vary from year to year depending on the availability of the raw material.  Frozen fish and fillets were the second largest product group with a 20% share, followed by marinated, fresh/chilled, and smoked products with about 10% share each.  Fish processors are to a high degree dependent on imported raw materials: frozen fish or fillets of herring, mackerel, sardine, or sprat. On average, about 80% of the raw material for processing is imported.

Romania is a net importer of fisheries and aquaculture products. In the past several years the volumes have shown a slight upward trend, reaching a volume of 121 223 tonnes and €461 million in value by the end of 2022 (Eumofa). More than four-fifths of all imports come from other EU Member States: where the Netherlands, Poland, Italy, and Czechia together supplied about one-third of the country’s total imported volumes. Salmon, mackerel, tuna, and trout were the main imported species. Among non-EU countries, Turkey is the main source of raw materials. Frozen fish still prevail in the structure of imports with an average annual share of 40%; canned products, including fish roes and caviar, is the second largest group with a 20% share; and chilled fillets is another large group, accounting for 15% of the total volume.

The volumes of Romania’s exports of fisheries and aquaculture products human consumption have been growing at about 12% annually in recent years. In 2022 export volume reached 19,818 tonnes, amounting to €89.5 million. The major export market was the EU (over 60% of the total value), where France and Poland were the major destinations. Moldova and the UK were the largest non-EU destinations. Rapa whelk was the largest single species with about half of the overall export value.


Romanian consumers traditionally prefer meat other than fish, and the consumption of fisheries and aquaculture products is far below the EU average. However, the average apparent consumption of fish and seafood has trended upward in recent years, to an estimated 8.12 kg per capita in 2021 (live weight equivalent). Most 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 inland and marine fisheries include the need for modernisation of ports and fishing vessels, market promotion of seafood, and implementation of an integrated traceability system for monitoring the entire supply chain. Predation by wild birds and animals is a big problem. There are reports that incoherent and unreasonably restrictive legislation constrains the development of the aquaculture sector. Other external constraints include climate change, a perceived lack of innovation, and inefficient collaboration between farmers and science.

Challenges faced by the processing sector relate to the efficiency of production activities, the use of allocated structural funds, and state intervention measures. The sector could diversify into novel and valuable species to attract new national and international markets.

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