Study on state-of-the-art scientific information on the impacts of aquaculture activities in Europe

Marnix Poelman, Andrew J. Temple, Sander van den Burg, Jens Kjerulf Petersen, Daniel Taylor, Steve Hodgson, Adelbert de Clerck, Harry Owen, George V. Triantaphyllidis, Ian Payne, Elisa Capuzzo, Johanne Dalsgaard, Bea Deetman, Martin Ecke, Pedro Pousão-Ferreira, Joanne Gaffney, Joxe Mikel Garmendia, Alfred Jokumsen, Tim Knöpfel, Romy LansbergenStefan Matthes, Adam Mytlewski, Mette Møller Nielsen, Francis O'Beirn, Per Bovbjerg Pedersen, Jadranka Pelikan, Marcin Rakowski, Jorge Ramos, Laura Ribeiro, Neil M Ruane, Eugene Rurangwa, Jildou Schotanus, Oihana Solarun, Olga Szulecka, Paulien de Bruijn, Hans van Oostenbrugge, Niels Hintzen, Robert Wakeford

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Aquaculture is one of the world’s fastest-growing industries, with 6 % annual growth since 2010, and is becoming an increasingly important component of the world’s food production. European aquaculture has not kept up with the pace of change in other parts of the world, growing only 24 % since 1990, and only 6 % since 2007. As with all food production industries, aquaculture has a range of positive and negative impacts for the environment and the socio-economic system, which varies across production type, species, geography and biophysical context. The overall purpose of this study is to present the scientific basis of the positive and negative impacts of European aquaculture from an economic, environmental and social point of view, in order to facilitate a well-informed debate. However, the study does not seek to assess the magnitude or likelihood of impacts, compare magnitude or likelihood of impacts among different types of aquaculture nor compare the impacts identified to those of alternative food production systems. In order to achieve this aim, the project first undertook an extensive literature review to collate state-of-the-art scientific information on the positive and negative impacts of aquaculture. The study examined scientific peer-reviewed literature, supplemented by the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries and European Data Collection Framework for aquaculture and focused on finfish culture (sea cages; ponds, tanks, and raceways; and recirculating aquaculture systems), shellfish culture (suspended, trays, and bottom culture), macroalgae and microalgae. To complement the impacts derived from the scientific literature a deeper analysis of impacts was conducted via 18 case studies across Denmark, Germany, France, Poland, Netherlands, Croatia, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain. The case studies covered a range of production technologies and species types. The case studies were used to verify impacts identified in the scientific literature, to identify any impacts potentially overlooked by the scientific literature and to identify legislation and mitigation relevant to the aquaculture type at the national level. The case studies combined information from the literature review, supplementary scientific and grey literature of specific relevance to the case study, and key expert interviews (40 in total). Key experts consulted were primarily those from relevant national authorities and national research institutes. In parallel with the case studies, a review of the EU and national regulatory frameworks and associated mitigation measures was conducted. The review and the key expert interviews from the case studies were used to provide a preliminary analysis of the extent to which the regulatory framework mitigates negative impacts from aquaculture. The information from the literature reviews and the case studies was then collated and evaluated to provide an overview of the most important and most broadly identified positive and negative impacts for different aquaculture types. The evaluation made specific efforts to highlight consensus between the scientific literature and the opinions of key experts, as well as highlighting where these differ – indicating potential priority areas for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBrussels, Belgium
PublisherEuropean Commission
Number of pages114
ISBN (Electronic)978-92-95225-28-2
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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