Assessment made on 01 May 2004
ClassificationFisheries (Primary theme)
Coasts and seas
- FISH 003
Policy issue: Are we achieving sustainable aquaculture?
European aquaculture production has continued to increase rapidly during the last 10 years, due to expansion in the marine sector in the EU + EFTA Countries. This represents a rise in pressure on adjacent water bodies and associated ecosystems. 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.
The last 10 years have seen a significant increase in total European aquaculture production. Significant improvements in the efficiency of feed and nutrient utilisation and improvements to environmental management generally have served to partially mitigate the associated increases in environmental pressure. This increase in both production and pressure has not been uniform across countries or across production systems. Only the mariculture sector has experienced a significant production increase, whilst brackish water production has increased at a much slower rate and levels of freshwater production have declined. On regional level, EU + EFTA countries dominate production by far.
Europe's fish farms fall into two distinct groups: in western Europe the fish farms grow high-value species such as salmon and rainbow trout, frequently for export, whereas in central and eastern Europe the fish farms grow lower-value species such as carp that are mainly consumed locally.
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 amounts have been drastically reduced in the past years following the introduction of vaccines.
This 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".
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