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EU Aquaculture Assistance Mechanism


Background information

Type of species farmed (Source: 2023, EUMOFA; 2022, STECF) 

Main species are Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), Common carp (Cyprinus carpio), Bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis), Grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella), Mediterranean mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis).

Type of production method (Source: 2023, EUMOFA) 

According to Eurostat, in 2021 almost 80% of Bulgarian production occurred in freshwater and the rest in marine water. According to Eurostat in 2021 the following main production methods are used in the country: 

  • Around 21% of production: off bottom in brackish water. 
  • Around 3% of production: in tanks and raceways in freshwater. 
  • Around 2% of production: recirculation systems. 
  • Less than 1% of production: in ponds in freshwater. 

The rest has been classified under fresh water using other methods for which no detail is available. 

Sector’s size (production and consumption) (Source: 2023, EUMOFA) 

  • Production (2021): 10.725 Tn; 30.354 thousand € 
  • Consumption of fishery and aquaculture products (2021): 7,17 Kg per capita 
  • % Variation in consumption 2021/2020: -4%


Impact of aquaculture in the country’s economy, food market and labour market (Source: MNSPA) 

  • In 2019, the number of farms registered was 754: the highest number of warm-water farms was 535 (72 % of the total), 78 were cold-water (10 %) and 104 (14 %) mixed. Black mussel collectors are 29 or 4 %. 
  • Above 95 % of all undertakings in the sub-sector in each of the years in the period 2014-2018, belong to the Micro enterprises-9 employees group. The rest, between 10 and 16 enterprises, are small, with the exception of one enterprise that moved to the medium-sized category in 2018. 
  • The evolution of total annual revenue in the Aquaculture sub-sector showed an upward trend over the period 2014-2018, with BGN 64.9 million in 2018 or BGN 2.2 times the initial BGN 29.2 million since 2014. 
  • The territorial sub-sector generates revenue in virtually all areas of the country. 
  • The number of employees in full-time equivalent in subsector 03.2 (Production and farming of fish and other aquatic organisms) increased from 662 in 2014 to 866 in 2018 according to National Statistical Institute data (NSI). 
  • The average annual income per company in freshwater aquaculture repeats a steady increase in the income of the Aquaculture sub-sector, while for the cultivation of black sea mussels the income is uneven.  
  • The saltwater aquaculture sub-sector has been significantly lost in three of the five years of the period 2014-2018. The freshwater aquaculture sub-sector has been profitable in three of the five years of the period. At the end of the period (2018), there was a possible start to a return to profit.  
  • Income per kilogram of aquaculture production grew smoothly from BGN (Bulgarian currency) 2.61/kg in 2014 to BGN 3.97/kg in 2018. The yield per kilogram of aquaculture remains minimal throughout the period. Revenue growth in the sub-sector is mainly due to an increase in aquaculture production volumes and, to a lesser extent, to an increase in sales prices. 
  • The annual income per employee in the Aquaculture sub-sector shows a steady increase from BGN 44.1 in 2014 to BGN 74.9 in 2018, which is an indirect indicator of labour productivity gains. They are higher in freshwater aquaculture, where there is also higher labour productivity. 
  • The market for fish, other aquatic organisms and fishery products in Bulgaria is linked to the development of (sub) sectors: Industrial fishing, Aquaculture, Processing of fish and other aquatic products, Trade in fish and other aquatic products. Supply comes from own catches, self-production of aquaculture and imports, and demand from domestic consumption and exports. The balance of the market, measured in financial terms (BGN million), shows a substantial increase in exports. The parallel development of imports is an indication that the increase is mainly due to the manufacturing industry with imported raw materials. 
  • In case of consumption, the main place for consumption of fish and fish products remains the home. Fish are bought fresh or frozen once a week or several times a month. It is much rarely prepared or preserved. Among the aquaculture species of fish eaten the first one is trout and the second is carp. Urban residents have identified large retail chains — hypermarkets and supermarkets and specialised fish shops — as a source of fish. One in four relies on stand-alone catches. 
  • The estimated consumption of carp species increased over the period 2014-2019, trout and black/other sea mussels remained at relatively constant levels.

Challenges and opportunities (Source: MNSPA) 

  • Existence of natural assets with the potential to develop aquaculture. 
  • Unrealised potential for increasing consumption of local aquaculture, including mariculture. 
  • Development of new species of mariculture in Black Sea waters (pilot projects). 
  • Enhancing the professional skills of those working in the aquaculture sector, through lifelong learning and the introduction of know-how. 
  • Deployment of new technologies. 
  • Diversifying production by cultivating high-end species.  
  • Potential to add value to aquaculture production through primary processing and marketing activities. 
  • Extending the range of niche products available on the international and domestic markets. 
  • Certification of organic fish farms in Bulgaria. (Legislative.) 
  • Certification of national standards for local products to promote native species. (Legislative.) 
  • Potential for sustainable development of dams up to 100 decares by increasing the share of aquaculture services. 
  • All these circumstances — water scarcity, water load, global climate change, etc. set out the guidelines in which aquaculture in Bulgaria should be reoriented. This sub-sector can only rely on sustainability in production in the coming years if it takes into account the occurrence of projected changes in the quality, quantity and distribution of water resources. In any case, it is mandatory to reorient production towards a water-saving and environmentally friendly one. This requires the management and application of new water-saving and energy-saving technologies. 
  • A challenge for the scientific community in the country is the mastering of the biotechnology of artificial breeding of new species for Bulgarian aquaculture to ensuring the sustainability of production. The absence of a long-term plan to maintain and restore populations of native species of hydrobionts subject to commercial and recreational fisheries does not allow the organisation of sustainable and scientifically planned production of these species in aquaculture farms.

Employment and number of enterprises (Source: MNSPA) 

866 number of employees in aquaculture farms and 446 active fish farms. 

MNSP to develop sustainable aquaculture

Published National Strategic Plan on Aquaculture: Final version of the Multiannual National Strategic Plan for Aquaculture in Bulgaria 2021- 2027 (in Bulgarian)

Summary in English of the "Published National Strategic Plan on Aquaculture": Multiannual National Strategic Plan for Aquaculture in Bulgaria (2021 - 2027)

Applicable Procedures

Relevant Websites

Contact Details

Name and surname: Krasimira Dankova 

Position held and name of the organisation: State expert in ‘Programming’ department, Managing authority BG EMFF&EMFAF programs 

Email address:  

Telephone number: +359 2 98511 246 


Summary in English of the "Published National Strategic Plan on Aquaculture" for Bulgaria
(496.36 KB - PDF)