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You are here: Home / Data and maps / Indicators / Aquaculture production / Aquaculture production (CSI 033) - Assessment published Sep 2011

Aquaculture production (CSI 033) - Assessment published Sep 2011

Generic metadata

Topics:

Fisheries Fisheries (Primary topic)

Coasts and seas Coasts and seas

Tags:
soer2010 | csi | water | fisheries | aquaculture | marine
DPSIR: Pressure
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • CSI 033
Dynamic
Temporal coverage:
1990-2008
Geographic coverage:
Austria Belgium Bulgaria Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark EFTA4 EU25 EU27 Estonia Finland France Germany Greece Hungary Iceland Ireland Italy Latvia Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Malta Netherlands Norway Poland Portugal Romania Slovakia Slovenia Spain Sweden Switzerland Turkey United Kingdom
 
Contents
 

Key policy question: Is the current level of aquaculture sustainable?

Key messages

European aquaculture production has continued to rapidly increase during the past 15 years due to the expansion of marine production. EU 15 and EFTA countries dominate EU’s aquaculture production, where Norway accounted for nearly 40% of the total European production in 2008, followed by Spain, France, Italy and the United Kingdom. Turkey is the most important producer in the EU7 + EU2 + others, having increased its output by nearly 200% from 2001 to 2008.

The major increase in aquaculture production has been in marine salmon culture in northwest Europe and, to a lesser extent, trout culture throughout western Europe and Turkey. 

Aquaculture production intensity, as measured per kilometre of coastline length, is two times higher in EU 15 + EFTA countries compared with EU7 + EU2 + other countries. This intensity is likely to continue to rise as marine aquaculture production increases, particularly since the culture of new species, such as cod, halibut and turbot, is becoming more viable. This increase represents a rise in pressure on adjacent water bodies and associated ecosystems, resulting mainly from nutrient release from aquaculture facilities. The precise level of local impact will mainly vary according to species, production techniques and local natural characteristics.

Annual production of major commercial aquaculture in different environments in Europe (EU-15+EFTA and EU-7, EU 2 + others), 1990-2008

Note: The figure shows the annual production of major commercial aquaculture in different environments in Europe

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Annual aquaculture production by major area (EU-15+EFTA and EU-7, EU 2 + others)

Note: The figure shows the annual aquaculture production by major area

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Annual aquaculture production by country in (EU-15 + EFTA and EU-7, EU 2 + others), 2001 and 2008

Note: The figure shows the annual aquaculture production by country for 2001 and 2008

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Annual aquaculture production of major aquaculture species groups in Europe (EU-15+EFTA and EU-7, EU 2 + others), 1990-2008

Note: The figure show the annual aquaculture production of major aquaculture species groups in Europe

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Key assessment

A significant increase in total European aquaculture production has been observed in the past 15 years, although this has slowed since 1999.  However, only the mariculture sector has experienced such an increase, while freshwater and brackish water production levels have not varied significantly.

On a regional level, EU 15 + EFTA countries are the main producers in Europe. Production in Europe's fish farms fall into two distinct groups: the ones in western Europe, which grow high-value species frequently for export, such as salmon and rainbow trout; and central and eastern European ones, where lower-value species such as carp are cultivated, mainly for local consumption.

 

Production by country

The biggest European aquaculture producers are found in the EU 15 + EFTA region.  Norway has the highest production with more than 850 thousand tonnes in 2008 (nearly 40% of the total European production), followed by Spain, France, Italy and the United Kingdom.  These 5 countries account for 78% of all aquaculture production in 34 European countries. Even the smallest of these, the UK, produced nearly 180 thousand tonnes in 2008, which is significantly higher than production in any European country outside of this region. Turkey's production of nearly 85 thousand tonnes substantially represents the highest production in the EU7 + EU2 + others.  The country ranking in 2008 in terms of production was very similar to that in 2001, although Spain and Italy both reduced their output, whilst Norway increased its production by over 65%.  Turkey increased its output from 2001 to 2008 by nearly 200%.

 

Production by major commercial species groups

The major part of the increase in aquaculture production has been in marine salmon culture in northwest Europe and, to a lesser extent, trout culture (throughout western Europe and Turkey).  Sea bass and sea bream cage culture (mainly Greece and Turkey), and mussel and clam cultivation (throughout western Europe) are also important, however production has shown a downward trend since 1999.  Inland aquaculture of carp (mainly common and silver carp) has declined significantly throughout eastern and central Europe due partly to political and economic changes in eastern Europe. 

Norway is the largest aquaculture producer in Europe due to the farming of Atlantic salmon which accounts for about 90% of it's total production.  Spain is next with its production dominated by blue mussel, followed by France with its production dominated by the Pacific cupped oyster.  Turkish production consists mainly of trout, sea bream and sea bass.

As in the case of production per country, no significant changes have been observed in production by major species since the last assessment.

 

Environmental considerations associated to aquaculture growth in Europe

Different types of aquaculture generate very different pressures on the environment, the main ones being discharges of nutrients, antibiotics and fungicides.  The main environmental pressures are associated with intensive finfish production, mainly salmonids in marine, brackish and freshwaters, and sea bass and sea bream in the marine environment, sectors which have experienced the highest growth rate in recent years.  The pressures associated with the cultivation of bivalve molluscs, which include removal of plankton and local concentration and accumulation of organic matter and metabolites, are generally considered to be less severe than those from intensive finfish cultivation.  Pond aquaculture of carp in inland waters usually requires less intensive feeding, and in most cases a greater proportion of the nutrients discharged are assimilated locally.  Environmental pressure per unit production is likely to be less than for the more intensive salmonid production. Furthermore, this type of aquaculture has decreased in recent years.

Chemicals, particularly formalin and malachite green, are used in freshwater farms to control fungal and bacterial diseases.  In marine farms, antibiotics are used for disease control but the amounts used have been reduced drastically in recent years following the introduction of vaccines and improved husbandry practices.  In general, significant improvements in the efficiency of feed and nutrient utilisation as well as environmental management have served to partially mitigate the associated increase in environmental pressure.

Specific policy question: What is the environmental performance of aquaculture?

Marine aquaculture production relative to coastline length

Note: The map show the marine aquaculture production relative to coastline length

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Specific assessment

Production relative to coastline length

The environmental pressures exerted by aquaculture are not uniform.  The level of local impact will vary according to production scale and techniques as well as the hydrodynamics and chemical characteristics of the region. Of the EU 15 and EFTA countries, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Norway and Italy  have the highest marine aquaculture production in proportion to the length of coastline.  Of the EU7 + EU2 + other countries, Turkey, has the greatest.

Aquaculture production intensity, as measured per kilometre of coastline length, has reached an average of around 10.1 tonnes per km of coastline in EU 15 + EFTA countries, compared with around 5.2 tonnes per km in the EU7 + EU2 + other countries.  The intensity is likely to continue to rise as marine aquaculture production increases, particularly because of the culture of new species such as cod, halibut and turbot which are becoming more reliable.

Contribution of nutrients from aquaculture to total coastal nutrients loads

Marine finfish aquaculture (mainly Atlantic salmon) is making a contribution to nutrient loads in coastal waters, particularly in the case of countries with relatively small total nutrient discharges to coastal waters.  For example, in Norway (Norwegian and North Sea coasts) phosphorus discharges from mariculture appear to exceed the total from other sources.

In general, the pressure from nutrients from the intensive cultivation of marine and brackish water could become significant in the context of total nutrient loadings to coastal environments. However the published data on total nutrient loadings to coastal waters remains poor in quality and inconsistent in coverage, impairing more precise conclusions.

Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Constança De Carvalho Belchior

Ownership

EEA Management Plan

2010 2.4.2 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled every 1 year in July-September (Q3)
Document Actions

Comments

European Environment Agency (EEA)
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Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100