The European Commission is currently promoting growth in the aquaculture sector as a means to meet future seafood demands and as a potential source of employment and economic growth. Even though significant progress has been made to improve the sector's environmental performance, various environmental challenges remain to be solved.

In the EU, aquaculture accounts for about 20% of fish production. This production has however stagnated since 2000, while in the rest of the world aquaculture production has grown by one third. Various new policy incentives are therefore being developed to boost growth of aquaculture production in the EU. The Communication on Blue Growth has singled out aquaculture as one of its five priorities, as has the Limassol Declaration on growth and jobs. Several measures to stimulate aquaculture are included in the reformed Common Fisheries Policy and the new European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

Seas At Risk's main concern is that policies will primarily aim at providing financial support for aquaculture with few requirements for environmental sustainability. The sector's impacts include pollution, escaping fish and their impacts on ecosystems, diseases, use of chemicals, and impacts related to fish meal, fish oil, and wild fisheries. Seas At Risk

There are as yet many gaps in knowledge and data on the various impacts from aquaculture, which warrants a precautionary approach to future developments. With spatial constraints limiting further development along the coasts, several countries are now setting their eyes on offshore aquaculture, i.e. in areas where information on ecosystems is often limited. Also for aquaculture of new species (including genetically modified organisms) and for new purposes (pharmaceutical, medical and energy production) the precautionary principle should be adhered to.

Seas At Risk, together with its members and other NGOs, provides regular input to EU aquaculture policy processes in order to ensure that the sector develops in an environmentally sustainable manner. An important forum for stakeholder consultation will be the Aquaculture Advisory Council, which is currently being set up in line with the requirements of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy.

European Commission's aquaculture website

Joint NGO position paper on responsible aquaculture
NGOs priorities for responsible aquaculture

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