Published (reviewed and quality assured)
Justification for indicator selection
The indicator tracks aquaculture production and nutrient discharges and thereby provides a measure of the pressures of aquaculture on the marine environment. It is a simple and readily-available indicator but, as a stand-alone indicator, its meaning and relevance are limited because of widely varying production practices and local conditions. It needs to be integrated with other indicators related to production practices (such as total nutrient production or total chemical discharge) to generate a more specific indicator of pressure. Coupled with information on the assimilative capacity of different habitats, such an indicator would allow estimation of impact and ultimately the proportion of the carrying capacity of the surrounding environment used and the limits to expansion.
- Beveridge M, pers. comm., University of Stirling, Institute of Aquaculture
- Haugen, A.S. and Englestad, M., Fish farming in tune with the environment, Ewos.
- Proceedings. Baltic Marine Environmental Protection Commission
- Helsinki Commission, (1998), The Third Baltic Sea Pollution Compilation. Baltic Sea Environment
- FAO FISHSTAT Plus (Aquaculture production quantities 1970 - 2001)
- World Resources Institute, Coastal Statistics
- OSPAR Commission, (2000), Nutrient discharges from fish farming in the OSPAR Convention area
- OSPAR Commission, (2002). Overview of the results of the comprehensive study on riverine inputs and direct discharges (RID) in 1999
- Jonsson, B. and A. Alanara (1998), Svensk fiskodlings narsaltsbelastning. Vattenbruksinstitutionen, SLU Rept. 18 (26p)
The indicator quantifies the development of European aquaculture production by major sea area and country as well as the contribution of aquaculture discharges of nutrients relative to the total discharges of nutrients into coastal zones.
Production is measured in thousand tonnes, while marine aquaculture production relative to coastline length is given in tonnes/km.
Policy context and targets
Until recently there was no general policy for European aquaculture, although the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive (85/337/EEC & amendment 97/11/EEC) requires specific farms to undergo EIAs and the Water Framework Directive requires all farms to meet environmental objectives for good ecological and chemical status of surface waters by 2015. There are few national policies specifically addressing the diffuse and cumulative impacts of aquaculture as a whole on aquatic systems, or the need to limit total production in line with the assimilative capacity of the environment. However, limits on feed inputs in some countries (such as Finland) effectively limit production.
The new Reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) aims to improve the management of aquaculture. In September 2002, the Commission presented to the Council and to the European Parliament a communication on "A strategy for the sustainable development of European aquaculture". The main aim of the strategy is the maintenance of competitiveness, productivity and sustainability of the European aquaculture sector.
The strategy has 3 main objectives:
-Creating secure employment
-Providing safe and good quality fisheries products and promoting animal health and welfare standards.
-Ensuring an environmentally sound industry.
No targets are currently available. The Water Framework Directive requires waters around farms to meet environmental objectives for good ecological and chemical status of surface waters by 2015.
Related policy documents
Council Decision (2002/358/EC) of 25 April 2002
Council Decision (2002/358/EC) of 25 April 2002 concerning the approval, on behalf of the European Community, of the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the joint fulfilment of commitments thereunder.
Greenhouse gas monitoring mechanism
Decision No 280/2004/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004 concerning a mechanism for monitoring Community greenhouse gas emissions and for implementing the Kyoto Protocol
Key policy question
Is the current level of aquaculture sustainable?
Specific policy question
What is the environmental performance of aquaculture?
Methodology for indicator calculation
National data for the 34 European states was manipulated first into country groupings, then into production system groupings and finally into main species and country listings. All production calculations were performed in the Fishstat Plus programme rather in the Excel spreadsheets in order to take into account production < 0.5 t otherwise omitted when transferred into Excel spreadsheets.
Total marine aquaculture per km coastline = total aquaculture production in marine areas (as defined by FAO Fishstat Plus) by country minus coastline length of the country (km) Major area production per km coastline = (Sum of total aquaculture production in marine areas (as defined by FAO Fishstat Plus) by major area) minus (Sum of all coastline lengths of countries in that area (km))
Aquaculture discharge of N (tonnes) = total finfish aquaculture production in marine & brackish water areas (tonnes) x 5.5%
Aquaculture discharge of P (tonnes) = total finfish aquaculture production in marine & brackish water areas (tonnes) x 0.75%
Relative contribution of aquaculture N production to marine nutrient loads = Aquaculture discharge of N (tonnes) / total discharge of N (tonnes) x 100
Relative contribution of aquaculture P production to marine nutrient loads = Aquaculture discharge of P (tonnes) / total discharge of P (tonnes) x 100
Methodology for gap filling
No methodology for gap filling has been specified. Probably this info has been added together with indicator calculation.
- FISHSTAT plus Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Fisheries Department universal software for fishery statistical time series.
EEA data references
- No datasets have been specified here.
External data references
Data sources in latest figures
No uncertainty has been specified
Data sets uncertainty
No uncertainty has been specified
The weakness of the indicator relates to the validity of the relationship between production and pressure. Production acts as a useful, coarse indicator of pressure but variations in culture species, production systems and management approaches mean that the relationship between production and pressure is non-uniform.
By presenting production relative to coastline length, it is possible to determine a more comparable value of production density. This is potentially a better indicator of pressure than a single production value, but there are difficulties with this indicator. It is inappropriate for landlocked countries; it does not apply to freshwater production; it does not consider the area of coastline that is potentially suitable for production; and the determination of coastline length is problematic and relies upon uniform scale being used for each country's determination.
Short term work
Work specified here requires to be completed within 1 year from now.
Work descriptionThe next step is to determine the relative environmental pressure (pressure per unit production) exerted by each production system and culture species, in order to generate a more accurate indication of pressure. Factors to consider include the rate of nutrient and chemical discharge, the number of escapes, and the incidence of disease per unit production. For finfish, the food conversion ratio (food given/fish production) coupled with information on food composition would provide an effective indicator of nutrient discharge. Modest improvements in national statistics could generate this information This data should be collected routinely and published by all major producing countries to provide time series data which could be incorporated within the EU and FAO databases.
No resource needs have been specified
Deadline2008/01/01 00:00:00 GMT+1
Long term work
Work specified here will require more than 1 year (from now) to be completed.
Responsibility and ownership
EEA Contact InfoConstança De Carvalho Belchior
Frequency of updates
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
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