27 June 2018

The European Parliament recently approved the own initiative report on sustainable and competitive aquaculture. Regrettably, MEPs failed to take the opportunity to develop a new vision for European aquaculture, instead choosing to simply reiterate the conclusions from EU reports published five years ago.

Read more

02 February 2018

The European Parliament, led by rapporteur Carlos Iturgaiz, is currently analysing the reasons underlying the failure of the EU aquaculture sector to grow at a level consistent with recent global trends (‘Towards a sustainable and competitive European aquaculture sector: current status and future challenges’). At a Parliamentary hearing on January 11th, several stakeholders, including the Federation of European Aquaculture Producers, General Confederation of Agricultural Cooperatives-General Committee for Agricultural Cooperation in the European Union, BirdLife, and Seas At Risk, presented their views on the future development of the EU aquaculture sector.

Read more

22 November 2017

With its ‘Blue Growth Strategy’, the European Union aims to boost its aquaculture production, both to meet the growing demand for seafood and to foster economic growth and employment. To this end, the 2014 Common Fisheries Policy contains several measures to stimulate aquaculture, as does the 2014-2020 European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. Simultaneously, however, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive obliges all EU Member States to improve the environmental condition of European seas and to reach Good Environmental Status by 2020. Given that excessive nutrient input poses a significant environmental problem in the Baltic Sea, these two policies risk an inherent incompatibility unless carefully managed.  

Early October this year, the Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschlands e.V. (German member of SAR) held a small symposium in Kiel, Germany. Here, invited representatives from politics, science, aquaculture industry and environmental organisations discussed political developments at national, regional and EU level, and evaluated the possibilities presented by forms of aquaculture with minimal nutrient input to the Baltic.

Modern aquaculture encompasses many different production methods and target organisms. Farming options include open cage systems in natural waters, pond systems, or closed recirculating facilities operated on land, independent of natural water bodies. Open cage fish aquaculture systems in marine waters present a number of environmental challenges, such as nutrient loss through excess food and faeces, thereby exacerbating eutrophication.


The symposium firmly established that the ecological status of the Baltic Sea demands any further nutrient input be minimised. Presentations and subsequent discussions pointed to Integrated Multitrophic Aquaculture (IMTA) as the only acceptable method of open cage fish farming in the Baltic. In this method, the nutrients introduced by the farmed fish would be absorbed by a pre-determined amount of mussels, preventing excess nutrients from entering the marine ecosystem. However, IMTA systems have not been tested at full industrial scale and the no-emission theory has yet to be proven in practice.

Land-based recirculation aquaculture systems (RAS) seem to promise the best available technology and seem ideally suited to the Baltic region, as they do not introduce further nutrients to marine waters. The polluter’s pays principle is embedded within RAS, with the polluter paying for cleaning and reusing the water, to a large extent. The production of fish close to the consumer market also represents an environmental advantage. However, questions remain about the species farmed, animal welfare, energy requirements, water recycling and technical issues. To date, few RAS facilities produce fish for the open market, as most are pilot or scientific projects whose fish products are too expensive for general sale.

For a semi-enclosed sea such as the Baltic, cooperation among all neighbouring countries is necessary to ensure protection of this important environmental resource. Such regional coordination is a mandatory element of both the Espoo Convention and EU cross-border cooperation. Currently, Denmark is planning 600 square metres of open cage aquaculture facilities in the Kattegat, as well as pioneering land-based RAS. In both cases, cooperation across country borders would benefit the Baltic Sea.

Lastly, the symposium discussed the underlying assumption that aquaculture should fill the gap created by the dwindling wild catch as a result of overfishing and stock loss. If fish were to be seen as a rarely consumed delicacy rather than a product for mass consumption, the quantities needed would be lower, making the marketing of high quality products from land-based production easier.

02 October 2017

Today 24% of all seafood consumed in the European Union comes from aquaculture. In order to reduce environmental pressures by aquaculture on marine ecosystems, aquaculture needs to become more sustainable. A cornerstone in achieving this goal is to introduce alternative feeds, which do not use fishmeal and fish oil. For this, protein-rich insect larvae have particularly great potential.

Read more

27 June 2017

Seas At Risk organised a workshop on Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture as part of the annual European Maritime Day. This year’s edition took place in the port town of Poole in the UK and saw over 1,000 maritime stakeholders discussing maritime issues under the theme “The Future of our Seas”.

Read more

10 March 2017

Seas At Risk Spanish member ENT Foundation, highlights Carrefour’s decision tostop selling imported Pangasius in Spain due to negative environmental impacts of aquaculture practices in Southeast Asia. Pangasious is not the only product produced in intensive aquaculture with significant socio-environmental impacts. 

In February of this year, the supermarket chain Carrefour announced that it would stop selling Pangasius in its supermarkets across Spain. Carrefour stated: "Given the doubts that exist about the adverse impact of Pangasius farms on the environment, we have decided to stop selling this fish."

This created a great opportunity for the Spanish media to finally talk about seafood consumption and report on the socio-environmental impacts generated by some of today's production systems and consumption habits. However, the media focussed once again only on our health, omitting that many other species generate as much or more damage to the environment as the Pangasius production does, and not that our current consumption model is clearly unsustainable.

In a period of ten years, Pangasius has become one of the most commercialized seafood products in the world, due to its fast growth rate and low production costs. Today, the majority of Pangasius that is sold in Spain comes from intensive aquaculture farms in Southeast Asia where Pangasius is cultured in shocking densities of up to 120kg of fish per cubic meter.

This raises great animal welfare and environmental concerns, as organic material from feed and fish waste builds up on the riverbed, as well as chemicals and drugs added to the water to fight fish diseases negatively impact the aquatic ecosystems. Doubts arise about the quality of fish produced and the impact on the consumers’ health.

In Spain, where the seafood consumption is 42.4 kilos per person per year -well above the European average (24.9 kg) and worldwide (18.9 kg)- overfishing continues to be an endemic problem. Especially in the Mediterranean where over 93% of fish stocks are overfished, making it a highly deficient country in seafood products and therefore highly unsustainable in this regard.

Spain thus dependends on foreign imports to meet domestic demand for fish. This creates an international trading system with a high carbon footprint, in which Spain ranks as the third world importer and ninth exporter, placing panga as the flagship product of imports.

However, ENT highlights that panga is not the only product produced in intensive aquaculture related to significant socio-environmental impacts. Other products such as salmon, Nile perch, or shrimp farmed in Ecuador, Thailand or Indonesia, for example, are also associated with critically environmental impacts. It is time to seriously consider the consequences of the Spanish consumption and production model and to shift attention to the conservation of our natural resources. 

ENT Foundation 


02 March 2017

Ocean acidification could cause an annual damage to the European shellfish production of €0.9 billion by 2100, according to a recent study.

Read more

02 March 2017

In its first meeting in Madrid on 14th February, the working group on finfish of the Aquaculture Advisory Council elected its chair and vice-chair (Javier Ojeda (APROMAR) and Phil Brook (CiWF) respectively) and established four sub-working groups to discuss fish feed as well as  animal health law, animal welfare,  and Blue Growth/ a level playing field.

Read more

15 December 2016

Following a three year long process the Advisory Council on Aquaculture is finally established, and can start its work on shaping European aquaculture. Seas At Risk aims to encourage the development of an environmentally responsible aquaculture sector, minimising its environmental impact.

Read more

13 July 2016

Brussels – The newly created European Aquaculture Advisory Council (AAC) held its first General Assembly meeting today. An initial Executive Committee of fourteen members was elected, a work programme was approved and three working groups on finfish, shellfish, and horizontal matters were established.

Read more

08 June 2016

8 June is the United Nations day for World Oceans. The theme for this year’s celebration is ‘healthy oceans, healthy planet’, yet developments during 2016 have shown just how much more needs to be done to preserve our seas from the effects of human activity. 

Read more

19 May 2016

The new Data Collection Framework Regulation must include the mandatory requirement to collect data on all aquaculture production.

Read more

19 April 2016

Brussels – The EU’s Fisheries Committee today adopted its report on the Data Collection Framework regulation (DCF), an effort that was designed to improve the information behind the Common Fisheries Policy.

Read more

25 November 2015

This paper explores solutions and actions required to develop an ecologically sustainable feed resource on which European aquaculture can rely. The feed related priorities include, certification for fishmeal and fishoil by credible and independent environmental certification schemes, ensuring that fin fish aquaculture facilities are net producers of fish protein, an increased use of non fish based feed ingredients, discouragement of the use of discards or bycatch, maximisation of the use in the production of fishmeal and fish oil of by-products and trimmings; assessments of the environmental footprint of alternative feeds.




30 September 2014

Brussels - Karmenu Vella, candidate for Commissioner for Fisheries and Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, survived his hearing in the European Parliament relatively unscathed, but without convincing that the Juncker Commission will put sustainability at the heart of their agenda.

Read more

11 September 2014

Brussels – The new President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, revealed his new team of Commissioners yesterday, and unveiled the surprising plan to merge the Environment and Maritime Affairs and Fisheries portfolios into one position. 

Read more

28 August 2014

Environmental NGOs propose several priorities to ensure that European aquaculture develops in an environmentally responsible manner. To minimise the environmental impacts of aquaculture the priorities are to ensure sustainable sourcing of feed, to avoid escapes by adopting technical standards, to minimise biodiversity impacts and to reduce the impact of chemicals and medicine use. To fill the knowledge and data gaps, more research and data collection are needed regarding the effects of aquaculture on wider ecosystems. This should underpin the development of measurable targets and indicators. Also aquaculture governance needs to be improved, to ensure early and effective stakeholder and public participation and the integration of environmental legislation. Innovative production processes such as integrated multi-trophic aquaculture and aquaponics should be supported and encouraged. Public funding needs to be focused and accountable and environmentally responsible trade promoted.

27 February 2013
BLOG: 2013 is set to be a crucial year for European aquaculture with the EU aiming on boosting growth in the sector and existing proposals in the ongoing reform of the CFP also set to further harness efforts.  

Read more

17 January 2013

The US Food and Drug Administration Agency (FDA) is close to approving a genetically modified form of Atlantic salmon to be sold as food. If approved, the fish will become the first genetically modified animal to be available for human consumption.

Read more

28 December 2012
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.  

Read more