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Sustainable Fisheries

Despite the increasing demand for sea food in the EU, its aquaculture is not expanding at a sufficient rate to satisfy the demand. EU aquaculture production is stagnating in the freshwater and molluscs segments, while the marine segment was growing from 2006 to 2010 by some 3%. The very few new licences issued in marine aquaculture in recent years are expression of the difficulties of the sector to expand. One of the main constraints is to get access to suitable sites in coastal waters, commonly explained as lack of space. These difficulties related to the competition for space with other users are forcing many producers to move production outside the EU.

This website shows some results of analyses we carried out on the space occupation of marine cages aquaculture in the EU. The analyses cover ten Member States representing almost 93% of EU marine finfish aquaculture production by volume (Cyprus, Spain, France, Greece, Croatia, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Slovenia, United Kingdom) and Turkey.

The results indicate that existing marine aquaculture sites occupy very limited space in terms of surface and length of coastline. The surface occupied by aquaculture cages amounts, for example, to around 230 hectares in Greece, and 34 ha in UK, which represented in 2010 24% and 44% of EU marine finfish production in volume, respectively. Considering these small surfaces it is difficult to imagine that the expansion of marine aquaculture in the EU is constrained by a lack of space in absolute terms. Limitations for growth may be better explained by the competition and conflicts for space taking place at the local level with more established other economic activities in coastal areas.

The results of the clustering exercise point to further research needed for understanding the local enabling conditions which favoured the expansion of aquaculture in these areas and possibly identifying examples of best practices for the governance of the sector.

More information on the methods can be found here.