The aquaculture and marine fisheries research laboratory of the Lithuanian Fisheries Service is a brand new experimental facility on the Curonian spit that is intended to serve multiple purposes. The laboratory was built with support from the European Fisheries Fund and will contribute to aquaculture and marine studies, both theoretical and applied, in Lithuania as well as the wider Baltic region.
Silute, a small town close to the Curonian lagoon, hosts the Fishery Enterprises Association and producer organisation, Lampetra. About 40 companies are members of the association, which was founded in 1993 and led by Siga Jakubauskiene, the chairwoman of the council.
Located in Prienai some 100 km west of Vilnius, Islauzo Zuvis is a traditional pond farm producing a number of species of freshwater fish. The pond surface area is about 500 hectares of which about 100 ha is used for organic production.
Fishermen have been catching salmon and sea trout for years in Lithuanian rivers such as the Nemunas and its tributaries. However, a significant decrease in the population of these fish in Lithuanian waters has been observed since the fifties. Intense fishing pressure, pollution, and poaching were the main causes for the dramatic decline in salmonid numbers. Natural resources were also considered a legitimate source of food, an attitude that was widespread during that period and not only in the Soviet region.
Although a small country (pop. 2.8m) Lithuania has a highly diverse fisheries and aquaculture sector. The fishing fleet comprises tiny vessels that are active in inland waters as well as colossal ones fishing the high seas, the aquaculture sector combines traditional pond farms producing carp and other freshwater species with ultra-modern recirculation aquaculture systems. The value of the output from the processing industry, which produces a large variety of fresh, frozen, smoked, salted, marinated, and canned products, has been growing steadily and was more than half a billion euros in 2016.
The fisheries sector in Lithuania can boast of a fleet split into four segments, high seas, Baltic Sea, coastal, and inland; an active processing sector producing a variety of products for domestic consumption and for export; and an aquaculture industry that stretches from traditional pond farming to the latest in recirculation aquaculture systems. Administering this diversity is the Ministry of Agriculture which, since a new government was formed late last year, is headed by Bronius Markauskas from the Lithuanian Peasant and Greens Union, an agrarian party. In this interview, Artūras Bogdanovas, Vice Minister for Fisheries, outlines the policy priorities in the fisheries administration under the new political dispensation.