Albania’s inland fishery contributes on average over 25% to total capture production (freshwater and marine).
Albania is home to Lake Shkodër, the largest freshwater body on the Balkan peninsula. On Albania’s northwest border with Montenegro and seasonally varying between 370 and 530 sq. km, the lake has historically been filled to the brim with carp. But in more recent years this important fishery resource has dwindled in size, suffering the same challenges faced in countless freshwater and marine areas: shoreside development and climate change, exacerbated by excessive and illegal fishing practices. Over time, the resource’s decline has driven people elsewhere in search of livelihoods.
Help is at hand, thanks to an FAO initiative begun in 2022 and aimed at restoring Albania’s inland fish resources through development of much-needed sustainable fishing practices, supplemented by aquaculture to rebuild breeding stocks. The initiative is part of FAO’s AdriaMed Project, which is funded by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policies.
Working with the countries along the Adriatic and Mediterranean, AdriaMed promotes scientific and institutional cooperation to improve the regional management of the fishing and aquaculture sectors. In this case, FAO is partnering with Albania’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The project brings young people into contact with older fishermen and women, to be inspired and to “learn their ways.” FAO staff use this approach with older fishers to keep their traditions alive and to use them to support sustainable practices that will create industry opportunities for jobs, environmental protection, and support for livelihoods in the long-term.
A vital part of the Lake Shkodër project has been the establishment of an aquaculture programme to replace the lake’s dwindling hatchery capacity. Carp broodstock were collected for breeding and transferred to enclosures for induced spawning. When the eggs hatch the larvae are raised to young fish, big enough to ensure a good rate of survival. These fish were released into the lake for the first time in June 2022. Roland Kristo, Deputy Minister of Albania’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, who is in charge of fisheries and aquaculture, says the project has already delivered results and that the lake’s fisheries now have a future.