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Sector Fiche: Marine Aquaculture

This document was developed by the European MSP Platform for the European Commission Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

Depending on the type of finfish or shellfish cultivated, marine aquaculture activities need areas with specific features (water depth, water quality, currents, etc.); in addition operational activities require easy access to ports and to other coastal facilities. The selection of the spatial area designated for aquaculture development and careful selection of farm sites are essential first steps to ensure the success and sustainability of aquaculture.

From a quantitative point of view, only limited analyses have been carried out to evaluate the present spatial demand of European marine aquaculture. Based on information available from FAO, as little as 630ha have been estimated to be used in the production of 95% of European marine aquaculture. Given that most marine aquaculture occurs in inshore waters, the amount of coastline impacted by marine aquaculture has been estimated to range between 0.5% and 3% of national coastlines (10 EU countries evaluated), although is higher for small island states (e.g. Malta) or those with very short coastlines (e.g. Slovenia); and that production most often occurred in distinct clusters or areas.

Considering the very low figures of occupied surface, it seems difficult to imagine that the expansion of marine aquaculture in the EU would be constrained by a lack of space in absolute terms. Limitations to growth may be better explained by the competition for space which takes place at the local level with more established coastal economic activities and by possible conflicts with environmental protection needs.

Read the full publication here.

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