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Aquaculture production (CSI 033) - Assessment published Nov 2005

Indicator Assessment Created 19 May 2005 Published 29 Nov 2005 Last modified 11 Sep 2012, 04:51 PM

Key messages

European aquaculture production has continued to increase rapidly during the past 10 years due to expansion in the marine sector in the EU and EFTA countries. This 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 vary according to production scale and techniques as well as the hydrodynamics and chemical characteristics of the region.

Is the current level of aquaculture sustainable?

Annual aquaculture production by major area (EU-15 + EFTA and EU-10 + AC + Balkans), 1990-2001

Note: Aquaculture production includes all environments i.e

Data source:

FAO FISHSTAT Plus

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Annual aquaculture production by country in (EU-15 + EFTA), 2001

Note: Production includes all environments i.e

Data source:

FAO FISHSTAT Plus

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Annual aquaculture production by country in (EU-10 + AC + Balkans), 2001

Note: Production includes all environments i.e

Data source:

FAO FISHSTAT Plus

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Annual production of major commercial aquaculture species groups, 1990-2001

Note: Includes all countries and production environments for which data are available

Data source:

FAO FISHSTAT Plus

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Annual aquaculture production by major area

A significant increase in total European aquaculture production has been observed in the past 10 years. 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. The increase in both production and pressure on the environment has not been uniform across countries or production systems.Only the mariculture sector has experienced a significant increase, while brackish water production has increased at a much slower rate and the levels of freshwater production have declined. On a regional level, EU 10 + EFTA countries dominate production by far.

Europe's fish farms fall into two distinct groups: the fish farms in western Europe grow high-value species such as salmon and rainbow trout, frequently for export, whereas lower-value species such as carp are cultivated in central and eastern Europe, mainly for local consumption.

The observed growth in production has not come without problems.  According to DG Fisheries ''the European Aquaculture industry is facing a number of challenges in terms of market and of the environment. Its future will depend on its ability to become economically self-sufficient and its capacity to respond to environmental constraints''.

Production by country

The biggest European aquaculture producers are found in the EU 10 + EFTA region. Norway has the highest production with more than 500 thousand tonnes in 2001, followed by Spain, France, Italy and the UK. These 5 countries account for 75.5 % of all aquaculture production in 34 European countries. Even the smallest of these, the UK, produced 170 thousand tonnes in 2001, which is significantly higher than production in any European country outside of this region. Turkey's production of 67 thousand tonnes represents substantially the highest production in the EU 10 + AC + Balkan region.The country ranking in 2001 in terms of production was very similar to that in 2000.

It is noteworthy that in 2001, farming of Atlantic salmon in Norway (being about 90 % of Norway's total production) exceeded the combined total of all production species from EU 10 + AC + Balkan countries. Spain is the next biggest producer with production dominated by blue mussel, followed by France, with production dominated by the Pacific cupped oyster (Crassostrea gigas). Turkish production consists mainly of trout, sea bream and sea bass.

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), seabass and seabream cage culture (mainly Greece and Turkey), and mussel and clam cultivation (throughout western Europe), which however exhibits a downward trend since 1999. In contrast, inland aquaculture of carp (mainly common and silver carp) has declined significantly throughout eastern and central Europe (EU 10 + AC + Balkan countries) due partly to political and economic changes in eastern Europe. As in the case of production per country, no significant changes have been observed in production by major species since the last assessment (2000).

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 seabass and seabream 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. 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.

 


 

 

 

What is the environmental performance of aquaculture?

Marine aquaculture production relative to coastline length, 2001

Note: Only marine and brackish waters production

Data source:

FAO FISHSTAT Plus and World Resources Institute

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Relative contribution of nutrients from marine and brackish water finfish culture in selected countries, 1999

Note: 1

Data source:

FAO Fishstat Plus, Jonsson and Alanara, Ospar Commission, Haugen and Englestad, Beveridge, Helsinki Commission

Downloads and more info

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 countries, Spain, France and the Netherlands, and of the EU 10 + Accession countries, Turkey, have the greatest marine aquaculture production in relation to coastline length.

Aquaculture production intensity as measured per unit coastline length has reached an average of around 8 tonnes per km of coastline in EU 10 + EFTA countries compared with 2 tonnes per km in the EU 10 + AC + Balkan region. The pressure is likely to continue to increase as the production of new species such as cod, halibut and turbot becomes more reliable.

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.

An alternative indicator could be based on the percentage coverage of key coastal habitat types by different types of aquaculture.

Contribution of nutrients from aquaculture to total coastal nutrients loads

Marine finfish aquaculture (mainly Atlantic salmon) is making a significant 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 is becoming 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;  the conclusions should therefore be treated with caution. 


Indicator specification and metadata

Indicator definition

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.

Units

Production is measured in thousand tonnes, while marine aquaculture production relative to coastline length is given in tonnes/km.


Policy context and targets

Context description

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.

Targets

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

Methodology

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.

Methodology references

No methodology references available.

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Data sets uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Rationale uncertainty

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.

Data sources

Generic metadata

Topics:

Fisheries Fisheries (Primary topic)

Coasts and seas Coasts and seas

Tags:
marine | csi | fisheries
DPSIR: Pressure
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • CSI 033
Geographic coverage:
Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, 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

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Constança De Carvalho Belchior

Ownership

EEA Management Plan

2010 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled once per year
Filed under: , ,
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100