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Europe’s Blue Growth Strategy targets the Aquaculture Industry

Farming finfish, shellfish and aquatic plants is one of the world's fastest growing food sectors, already providing the planet with about half of all the fish we eat. In Europe, aquaculture accounts for about 20% of fish production and directly employs some 80 000 people. Furthermore, approximately 90% of the EU's aquaculture producers are small and medium enterprises.

Building on this strong base is the objective of the European Commission’s Blue Growth Strategy, which focusses attention on developing the potential of Europe’s oceans and coasts to provide jobs and add economic value, in a long term sustainable manner that limits degradation of the environment. Other key sectors identified include biotechnology, renewable energy, mineral resources and tourism and leisure.

The aquaculture sector is of particular relevance to SAFI. Despite its success, there has been limited growth in this sector over the last decade. The aim is to invigorate it by reducing administrative burdens, improve access to water and space through coordinated spatial planning, increase competitiveness, and maintain high quality standards.

In April 2013 the European Commission issued a set of guidelines for the sustainable development of EU aquaculture, with clearly identified targets for Member States and the Commission in regard to the above challenges. One of the innovations in this new approach is the establishment of an Aquaculture Advisory Council, which will have representatives from national authorities,  the aquaculture industry, retailers, consumer associations and civil society. It is to be hoped that this Council  will be truly representative and will lead to better planning and management of aquaculture farms, without the conflict that has marked the establishment of many such farms in the past.

SAFI can assist this process by providing relevant information on environmental conditions to assist both the siting and ongoing monitoring of aquaculture operations. More information on Europe’s Blue Growth strategy is available at

Ned Dwyer (Coastal & Marine Research Centre, UCC)

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