Eliza Uzunova1, Javor Markov2,4, Angelina Ivanova31, Stanka Delcheva4 and Tania Hubenova3
1 Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”, Department of General and Applied Hydrobiology, Biological Faculty, 1164 Sofia, Bulgaria
2 Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Mathematics and Informatics, 1113 Sofia, Bulgaria
3 Agricultural Academy, Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture, 4003 Plovdiv, Bulgaria
4 STRATEGMA Agency Ltd., 1202 Sofia, Bulgaria
Uzunova, E., Markov, J., Ivanova, A., Delcheva, S. & Hubenova, T. (2023). Economy and diversity of aquaculture production in Bulgaria: status and trends. Bulg. J. Agric. Sci., 29 (2), 229–242
Aquaculture production in Bulgaria has increased over the last decade, reaching 16 442 tonnes in 2019. Fish production has doubled in comparison with 2007, while that of mussels has increased tenfold. The Bulgarian contribution to EU aquaculture production has been increasing significantly in both volume and value over the years, making up 1.15% of the volume and 1.0% of the value of EU production in 2019. Freshwater aquaculture accounts for 78% of total production. Common carp dominates with about 29.4% (4836 t), followed by rainbow trout with 29.2% (4820 t) in 2019. The cultivation of sturgeon species and caviar production are among the most dynamically developing aquaculture segments. Mariculture in the Black Sea has increased in recent years, with the production of Mediterranean mussel reaching 2932 tonnes in 2019. An average of 405 farms operated during the period 2010-2019. Four regions (Plovdiv, Stara Zagora, Burgas and Montana) account for 50% of the total fish production.
Pond aquaculture is the dominant technology used in Bulgaria, and it serves as the basis for numerous other activities, including management of fish stocks in various water bodies mainly for recreational fishing. Approximately 35 net-cage farms currently operate in bigger dams. Recirculating fish farms output made up only 0.15% of the total amount of aquaculture for the period 2010-2019.
The aquaculture sector exhibited difficulties in recovering from the financial crisis of 2007-2008, manifested by a slow growth for the period 2010-2014. From 2015 to 2019 there has been a significant growth, manifested in a sharp increase of total revenue and profitability, especially among the larger enterprises in the sector, as well as an increase in the number of employees, and the labour productivity. As a result, in 2019 the registered total revenue per enterprise and total revenue per employee were more than double the respective figures for 2010. The profits of larger enterprises increased more than three times on average, but smaller entities, micro-enterprises with less than 5 employees, operated at the border line between profit and loss. The COVID-19 crisis could have lasting consequences. Despite EUR 1.2 million direct payments in the sector in 2020, there has been a significant drop in the export of aquaculture products. Consumption of fish and other aquaculture products remains low compared to those in the other EU countries.