NewsMontenegro's fishing sector: Challenges and development strategy

Montenegro’s fishing sector: Challenges and development strategy

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Montenegro’s fishing industry grapples with a myriad of obstacles, including aging fishing vessels, inadequate safety standards, limited infrastructure for fish landing, minimal fish processing capabilities, market disorganization, unskilled labor, high fish prices, seasonal demand fluctuations, environmental concerns, illegal fishing activities, and a lack of strategic planning, expertise, and investments.

To tackle these issues, the Montenegrin government has endorsed the “Development Strategy for the Fisheries Sector 2024-2029.” This blueprint aims to address the sector’s shortcomings over the next five years, requiring an investment of €26,515,000. The majority of this funding will be sourced from MIDAS projects (€15.65 million), supplemented by state budget allocations (€4.47 million), IPA program donations (€3.61 million), and other sources.

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MIDAS, a World Bank-funded initiative focused on agricultural institutional development, will oversee the strategy’s implementation under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Water Management.

The strategy delineates objectives and priorities for enhancing domestic fisheries and aquaculture, accompanied by a detailed timeline and budget allocation. A pivotal goal is to harmonize Montenegro’s legislation with EU standards to ensure effective governance, environmental sustainability, and socio-economic viability. This entails enacting a new Law on Marine Fisheries and Mariculture.

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Montenegro’s fishing fleet comprises predominantly aged vessels with modest dimensions. Key challenges confronting the sector include outdated infrastructure, inadequate port facilities, and fragmented market channels. Insufficient monitoring and enforcement exacerbate the problem, leading to illegal fishing activities both domestically and from foreign vessels encroaching on Montenegro’s maritime territory.

The strategy underscores the imperative of comprehensive oversight and regulatory enforcement to mitigate the adverse impacts of maritime activities, pollution, and climate change on marine ecosystems. It advocates for an integrated approach aligned with environmental, agricultural, and energy policies, emphasizing adherence to the principles outlined in the EU’s Green Deal and Zero Pollution Action Plan.

Despite the hurdles, Montenegro endeavors to modernize its fishing fleet to enhance profitability and sustainability without exacerbating resource depletion through indiscriminate subsidies.

The strategy also addresses freshwater commercial fishing, primarily concentrated on Lake Skadar, with proposals to bolster monitoring mechanisms, improve landing facilities, and expand market access for fishers.

Moreover, efforts will be directed toward advancing aquaculture practices, focusing on species such as trout, shellfish, sea bream, and sea bass. However, persistent challenges, such as escalating feed costs, pose significant impediments to profitability in this sector.

In essence, the new strategy seeks to foster inter-institutional collaboration, streamline market channels, and address overarching challenges to ensure the long-term viability and ecological integrity of Montenegro’s fishing sector.

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