Monday, 13 February, 2017

The Republic of Albania is an important player in the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) of FAO, the regional fisheries management organization based in Rome and which counts 23 countries from the Mediterranean and Black Sea basins as members. 
The collaboration already existing is poised to become stronger following a bilateral agreement signed between FAO and the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Water Administration of the Republic of Albania aimed at strengthening cooperation and technical assistance activities in fisheries and aquaculture over the next years. 
Monday at FAO Headquarters, a letter of agreement was signed by H.E. Edmond Panariti, Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Water Administration of the Republic of Albania and Ms Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director-General Climate and Natural Resources of FAO. 
“GFCM has just launched a Mid-term strategy (2017-2020) towards sustainable fisheries in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea,” said Abdellah Srour, GFCM Executive Secretary. “Today`s signature represents an important steps to support one of our member countries in strengthening its capacity and working to reach a level playing field with other countries in the region. We believe that this joint work can help in achieving the important targets set for the near future.” 
“Moreover, this joint commitment is a strong signal that shows a clear and shared willingness to cooperate and achieve common goals for Mediterranean fisheries and aquaculture, and we believe the technical assistance that will be provided by the GFCM will help to strengthen the fisheries sector in Albania.” 
The main cooperation areas identified in the agreement address the following priority areas:
• the development of a national fisheries data collection system
• the establishment of effective Port State Measures for the fight against illegal, (IUU) fishing, and
• support to the development of a national strategic plan for sustainable aquaculture.
In expressing his support for closer collaboration, Minister Panariti expressed confidence that it would contribute to finding appropriate solutions, taking into account the national priorities for the sector. He also stressed Albania`s willingness to implement the measures foreseen by the FAO Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing, which entered into force on 5 June 2016. 
With its Adriatic coastline, fisheries is an important sector for Albania. Figures place the value of total fish landed in 2012 at over 19 million US dollars. Total aquaculture production in the country was registered at 2 424 tonnes, with a value of over 6.4 million US dollars in 2014. 
Currently, aquaculture in Albania includes intensive, semi-intensive, and extensive cultivation techniques in marine, brackish and freshwater environments. 
Yesterday`s letter of agreement should allow FAO`s General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) and Albania to strengthen their collaboration in order to build stronger and a more sustainable fisheries and aquaculture sector in the Mediterranean.