Agriculture has been identified as one of the priority areas with innovative potential during the mapping phase of the Smart Specialization Strategy (S3) within Albania. The development of S3 is part of Albania's commitments related to the EU accession negotiation process, specifically Chapter 20 "Enterprises and Industrial Policies" and Chapter 25 "Science and Research." It is also part of the Western Balkans Action Plan 2021-2024 within the framework of the Berlin Process and a component of the EU's agenda for innovation in the Western Balkans 2021-2027.
In this context, the National S3 Team, with the support of the Union of Albanian Producers, organized a roundtable discussion on fisheries and aquaculture on October 26, 2022, at the premises of the Agricultural University of Tirana, following the methodology of the Joint Research Center (JRC) of the European Commission.
Approximately 25 representatives from the quadruple helix (government, academia, business, civil society) participated in this event. Participants made valuable contributions by presenting the sector's needs and possible solutions for intelligent development in fisheries and aquaculture.
The meeting began with welcoming remarks from three panel members: Assoc. Prof. Edmond Hala, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment at the University of Agriculture in Tirana; Assoc. Prof. Erjola Keci, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Professional Studies "Aleksandër Moisiu" and coordinator of international projects in water management; Assoc. Prof. Elvira Beli, head of the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture at the University of Agriculture in Tirana. Mr. Arben Shkodra, the Secretary-General of the Union of Albanian Producers and a member of the panel, guided the discussion in two parts. The first part of the meeting focused on the challenges, opportunities, and prospects for the development of the fisheries and aquaculture sector, while the second part analyzed the path toward smart specialization in the sector.
During the discussions, emphasis was placed on issues such as:
- Strategic measures necessary to fully exploit the potential of the fisheries and aquaculture sector, with a focus on promoting innovation and scientific research;
- Human resource shortages, workforce qualifications, brain drain, and the importance of academia;
- Competitiveness at the national and regional levels;
- The advantages offered by technology in the sector and sustainable development;
- Funding opportunities;
- Collaboration among the four helixes to promote smart specialization.
The discussions held during this meeting will serve as the basis for a national workshop in the field of agriculture.