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Composition of the Slovenian seafood sector
In 2015, Slovenian fishing companies only generated EUR 1 million in landings income (Table 73). Fish processing companies added EUR 12 million in production revenue in 2013.
In 2016, Slovenia had a negative trade balance of EUR 64 million in fish and fish products. The country imported for a value of EUR 97 million. 87% of its fish imports originated in other EU countries. With 30% Italy was the leading supplier, followed by Croatia (24%) and Spain (13%).
Slovenia exported EUR 32 million in fish and fish products in 2016. Three quarters of this was destined to other EU countries. Key destinations were Croatia (30%), Austria (17%) and Hungary (13%).
There were 172 registered commercial fishing vessels in Slovenia in 2016, 47% of which were active. 99 companies owned these vessels. 23 fishing enterprises – or a quarter of all fishing companies – owned more than one vessel. In 2017, 47% of the national fleet was active (STECF, 2018).
The fish catching segment employed 84 FTE in 2015. According to 2012 data, the fish processing segment employed a larger workforce of 306 FTE.
The Slovenian coast, in the north-east Adriatic Sea, stretches over approximately 46 km. Fishing activity is almost exclusively restricted to these inshore territorial waters, and as such, the Slovenian fishing fleet is small – especially in comparison to the neighbouring Italian and Croatian fleets. The EU’s Community Fishing Fleet Register has 224 individual vessels recorded for Slovenia (2018); the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, reported 171 active fishing vessels in 2016, totalling 590 GT and with total engine capacity 8,535 kW and an average age of over 30 years. The fleet capacity has decreased in size over the past decade – largely due to the scrapping of the largest vessels.
The fleet is divided into a small-fleet segment and a large-scale segment (approximately 14% of active vessels) with an engine power of 1.9 thousand kW and above. More than 90% of Slovenian vessels are less than 12 metres in length. This small-scale fleet primarily targets demersal species in the inshore area. The remaining vessels are registered as being over 12 metres in length, and largely target small pelagic species, again almost exclusively within territorial waters. Historically the pelagic sector was dominated by two pair trawl vessels, but these were both scrapped under the EFF-funded cessation scheme (Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, 2015). These vessels had previously represented almost 50% of landed weight (STECF, 2018). Slovenia does not receive any quota from the EU. As it borders the Mediterranean, most management is conducted through days at sea effort control. In 2014, the fleet spent a total of approximately 8.6 thousand days at sea.
Landings of marine fish made by the Slovenian fleet has significantly decreased over the past decade (Figure 109). In 2016, 152 tonnes were landed, down from 917 tonnes in 2006. Around 76% of the 2016 catch was finfish, 19% molluscs, and 5% crustaceans. In terms of value of landings, the Fisheries Research Institute of Slovenia estimates that the total value in 2016 was about EUR 1.1 million – 15% lower than in 2015. The highest value fish species were sole, turbot and shi-drum (more than EUR 18 per kg). The majority of landed fish are sold locally – some fishers even have their own market stalls (or shops) at which they sell their catch directly. Slovenia has three main fishing harbours, located in Izola, Piran and Koper, the latter also being an important cargo port – with 64, 84 and 76, registered fishing vessels, respectively.
The contribution of fisheries to the country’s GDP is limited, particularly in comparison to the aquaculture sector, which was valued at approximately EUR 3.75 million in 2014. However, the fisheries sector is of importance socially due to the employment that it offers. The Slovenian statistical office estimates that 101 persons were employed in marine fishing as economic activity in 2016 (Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia, 2018). Most of them were self-employed fishers (75%), working on 83 active vessels (fewer than half of all registered fishing vessels). Among all persons in employment only 50% had full-time jobs, which is 21% fewer than in 2015. People employed in fisheries are often also engaged in other economic activities, such as tourism, trade and catering.
Processing is the largest remaining seafood sector, with 12 seafood processing companies in Slovenia – none employ more than 250 staff. However, most of the raw seafood being processed is either imported from outside the country or is from marine or freshwater aquaculture. Some of the smaller processing companies are formed by fish farmers who aim to add additional value to their product.
Slovenia currently has no producer organisations that are recognised by the European Commission in the fishery and aquaculture sector. However, one of their ‘union priorities’ identified in their European Maritime and Fisheries (EMFF) operational programme was to provide funding in order to help create a producer organisation for fisheries and aquaculture products, in order to improve market organisation and support investment in processing and marketing (European Commission – Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, 2016).
Companies of note in Slovenia are almost exclusively processing companies – this industry is propped up by large amounts of imported raw fish product that is then processed in Slovenia.
Delamaris d.o.o. is part of the Slovenian Pivka Group (Pivka perutninarstvo d.d) (Pivka Group, n.d.). It is historically the largest seafood company in Slovenia – it employs over 100 staff today, who largely work in processing of raw fish. The company used to own a number of Slovenian flagged fishing vessels that landed raw fish into Slovenia, which were then processed and sold by Delamaris. However, due to the significant reduction in Slovenian landings, the company now imports almost all of the raw fish it uses for processing – which is almost entirely mackerel. Indeed, the move towards imported fish is so significant, that the company has now relocated inland, away from the sea.
DROGA KOLINSKA živilska industrija
DROGA KOLINSKA živilska industrija d.d. food processing company with fish processing as one of its activities. Droga Kolinska is part of Atlantic Grupa (Hungary) (Atlantic Grupa, n.d.; Atlantic Grupa, 2010).
Ribogojstvo Goričar d.o.o. Fish farm with additional processing business is marketing freshwater as well as marine fish (Ribogojstvo Goričar, n.d.).
Rival Trade d.o.o – smaller company that processes and trades fisheries products, including fresh fish, crustaceans and molluscs from the Adriatic and the North Seas (Rival Trade, n.d.).
There is no evidence of significant vertical or horizontal integration occurring in the Slovenian seafood sector. The largest sector of the seafood industry is the processing sector, however, the turnover has decreased by 12% between 2008 and 2015, while the profit has decreased by 847% in the same period. This is perhaps not very attractive to outside investment. Lower turnover and higher operating cost are key driving forces behind the overall deterioration of Slovenian fish processing.