Albania is on track to become one of the most virtuous countries in Europe for sustainable seafood. In order to promote environmental sustainability in the fishing industry, the Albanian government has decided by decree to cover 50% of the cost seafood companies have to bear to undergo Friend of the Sea sustainability certification audit.
In February 2018, Friend of the Sea has been invited by the Albanian Ministry of Rural Development and Aquaculture to attend meetings with institutions in Tirana and lead a workshop about the certification with major Albanian enterprises operating in the sector, several of which have already shown their interest in applying for Friend of the Sea audit.
According to the latest Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) report about the state of fisheries and aquaculture in the country, capture fisheries amount to approximately 6000 tonnes, 35-40% of which are demersal species, such as hake, red mullet and deep-water shrimp, which have been mostly exported as fresh fish. The main destinations for Albanian exports are Italy (80% of the total), followed by Greece (14%), and Macedonia(2.5%), with prepared and preserved anchovies representing the bulk of exports.
With around 2500 tonnes of farmed fish produced in 2014, aquaculture has a great potential for future growth as new species are farmed at sea. Currently trout, carp, mussels, seabream and seabass are the main farmed species.
Roland Kristo, Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, declares: “The Ministry is focused on promoting practices for responsible and sustainable fisheries and aquaculture. Support provided for FOS certification by the Albanian government aims to encourage this process“.
“Albania is the first country in Europe to provide such level of support to seafood companies in their transition to sustainable seafood production practices” comments Paolo Bray, Founder and Director of Friend of the Sea “I am sure the Albanian government decision will in turn stimulate an improvement in the management of the Mediterranean stocks and the aquaculture practices. Albanian companies will benefit in terms of access to new markets”.