A few steps to greater competitiveness

In Romania fish farming is exclusively freshwater and can be divided into the intensive farming of salmonids, and the semi-intensive or extensive farming of cyprinids. As in Croatia the production of cyprinids is in earthen ponds which are well integrated into the natural landscape and play an important role in maintaining wetlands, regulating water overflows from river systems, and providing a habitat for numerous species of wild birds, animals, and plants.

 

Fish cages to be used for the production of rainbow trout in a damlake.

Many of these areas are in fact part of Natura 2000 sites which confirms that the traditional pond farming of cyprinids is compatible with the principles of Natura 2000. In Romania too farms on Natura 2000 sites are attempting to diversify their activities by offering bird and animal watching tours, boating, angling, and accommodation for tourists interested in nature. Aquaculture production in 2010 tumbled (by 32%) to just under 9,000 tonnes compared to the year before as a result of the economic crisis. Since then output has increased slowly to just over 10,000 tonnes in 2013. Of this 87% was cyprinids (common carp, crucian carp, silver carp, grass carp), while the rest was other species, mainly trout. Of the approximately 10,000 tonnes of farmed fish produced in 2013, 3,000 tonnes were farmed in the Danube Delta, which has a number of producers and the largest surface area (52,000 ha) being used for the production of farmed fish. Approximately 100,000 ha of surface are devoted to aquaculture in Romania. European and Asian carps form the overwhelming bulk of the production accounting for over 85% in four of the last six years, while trout amounted to about 10%. About 9,200 ha spread over three farms  is used to produce a small quantity of of fish organically.

 

The number of companies farming fish also fluctuated violently over the last few years falling by 28% from 444 to 319 companies in 2011, but increasing again the next year to 430. The majority (65%) of the companies are small family businesses with less than 5 employees while just under a fifth had more than 10 employees in 2012. Of the companies involved in farmed fish production about 20 are purely nurseries, 175 are hatcheries and nurseries, while the remainder are purely on-growing farms.

 

Potential to increase production of farmed fish exists

Romania has considerable potential to expand the production of farmed fish. The country is estimated to have some 500,000 ha of surface permanently or temporarily covered in water, in addition, there are 66,000 km of rivers, 98,000 km of reservoirs, and a 25,000 sq. km exclusive economic zone in the Black Sea. The geographic terrain is varied with mountainous regions suitable for the cultivation of salmonids, and lowlands appropriate for the pond farming of carp. Recirculation systems offer the possibility of cultivating different species of fish in fresh or saltwater. However, at the same time it is necessary that land development measures (the building of dykes, weirs, channels, ditches etc.) take into account the hydrological and biological impact and that environment impact assessments are carried out before launching building works to ensure that the development is sustainable (economically, environmentally, and socially) in the long term. One of the issues facing some fish farmers is the lack of clarity for various reasons regarding ownership of the land on which the fish are being grown. This results in a reluctance to invest in the farm, which results in lower yields and decreased productivity. These administrative and legislative issues will need to be addressed if aquaculture production is to increase.

 

Lakes created by the construction of a dam are used to generate electricity, provide water for drinking and irrigation, as well as to farm fish.

 

Farming in the Danube Delta has its own peculiarities

In the Danube Delta there are also other challenges. The delta is characterised by extensive aquaculture in ponds that host carps and other species giving a mix similar to that found in natural water. Farms suffer from the lack of fertiliser that ensures the healthy growth of pond vegetation, and ponds often fail to meet minimum hydrobiological and hydrological requirements. As a result the level of the water in the ponds is sometimes too low and the ponds are often invaded by weeds and algae which contribute to reducing the volume of fish that can be farmed. Physical and chemical analyses of the water are not carried out so that the fish do not have optimal conditions. Farming here is usually extensive with no additional feed in the form of cereals provided to the fish.

Natural and artificial lakes are also used for the cultivation of fish. The artificial lakes are usually formed by the construction of dams, which are built to provide hydropower, but also function as a flood control measure, and supply municipalities with drinking water and/or crop farmers with irrigation. Of the 3,400 lakes in Romania about 250 are used for the production of fish. The production is generally extensive with yields ranging from 300 to 1,200 kg per ha. About 166 trout farms produced some 1,100 tonnes of trout in 2013. Of these, 70 farms are owned by the national forestry department, while the rest are either privately owned or belong to local councils or municipalities. The forestry department owned farms also produce some 3m smolts for restocking purposes.

 

Several areas where improvements are possible

A SWOT analysis of areas suitable for aquaculture concludes that there is a need to encourage new investments for setting up new farms or modernising existing ones together with support for technological development, innovation and knowledge transfer. This in turn should enhance the competitiveness of the sector. Fish farming should be environmentally friendly and should promote the welfare of the fish  as well as maintain biodiversity. At all levels in the sector there is scope to improve conditions to increase the production. For example simpler and more transparent administration, greater use of information technology, an improved system of taxes, and coordinated spatial planning will all contribute to an increase in aquaculture production in Romania.

Source: *FAO, ^ANPA
Aquaculture production in Romania (tonnes)
Species 2008* 2009^ 2010^ 2011^ 2012^ 2013^
Common carp 3,977 4,142 2,888 2,652 3,266 3,395
Crucian carp 1,462 1,623 934 1,048 868 1,004
Silver carp 2,959 2,971 2,016 1,323 2,087 2,031
Bighead carp 2,228 2,352 1,020 1,289 2,110 2,110
Grass carp 426 283 84 62 182 190
Pike-perch 49 45 57 42 56 43
Pike 14 22 31 34 31 28
Perch 1 6 6 4 7 2
Trout 1,037 1,238 1,400 1,710 1,074 1,106
Sturgeons 0 0 39 19 11 16
Other species 379 449 506 169 305 206
Mussels, oysters 0 0 0 1 9 16
Totals 12,532 13,131 8,981 8,353 10,006 10,147