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Oceans and fisheries
News announcement29 April 2024Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries3 min read

Aquaculture: Commission shares recommendations and good practices

Mussel lines, Ireland

The Commission has published two staff working documents to support EU Member States in facilitating the sustainable growth of aquaculture.

This comes in response to aquaculture producers’ calls to reduce the administrative burden on establishing and operating aquaculture sites in the EU.

The objective is to unlock the potential of aquaculture in the EU. Despite all of its benefits, aquaculture production in the EU has not grown at the same pace as in other parts of the world. EU aquaculture production only covers 10% of the fish and seafood consumed in the EU and accounts for less than 2% of world production.

Addressing obstacles to aquaculture growth

The documents address two important obstacles to aquaculture growth across many EU Member States:

  • a complex regulatory framework and unnecessarily difficult administrative procedures, and
  • difficulties in access to space and water necessary for the development of marine aquaculture.

The documents elaborate on the recommendations included in the EU strategic guidelines on facilitating the sustainable development of aquaculture in EU Member States with the objective of:

They consolidate good practices and provide concrete examples of how they have been applied in some EU Member States. Given the proximity of Norway and the UK to the EU and the importance of their aquaculture sectors, the documents also look at their good practices.

These documents were prepared in close consultation with Member States and stakeholders represented by the Aquaculture Advisory Council.

The Commission hopes that these documents will support EU Member States in achieving their objectives, as set out in their own multi-annual national strategic plans for aquaculture and  their national programmes implementing the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund.

Next steps

Later in 2024, the Commission will publish a document on access to space and water for freshwater and land-based aquaculture.

Aquaculture is a sector that is subject to continuous innovation and technological development. To better meet existing and emerging challenges and support future development, the Commission will continue to publish updates to these documents on the EU aquaculture website.

Through the EU Aquaculture Assistance Mechanism, the Commission will provide dedicated training on these documents to Member States’ authorities responsible for aquaculture development.  An e-learning module for each of these documents will also be available on the EU aquaculture website.


Sustainable aquaculture growth in the EU has the potential to contribute to food security by reducing the EU’s high dependence on imports of aquatic food to meet the demand. It can also contribute to sustainable food systems, as a source of protein with a lower carbon and environmental footprint than other types of farming, and as a way of alleviating the pressure of growing demand for aquatic food on wild fish stocks. The growth of aquaculture can also provide much needed jobs for young people in coastal and rural areas, including the most remote ones. Aquaculture can also provide valuable raw material for other industries, e.g., pharmaceutical.

In 2021, the Commission adopted strategic guidelines to tap into this potential and support the growth of EU aquaculture. The guidelines set the vision, shared by all stakeholders, to develop the sector into a more competitive and resilient one, and the world’s lead example in terms of sustainability. The guidelines set 4 objectives:

  1. building resilience and competitiveness;
  2. participating in the green transition;
  3. ensuring social acceptance and consumer information; and
  4. increasing knowledge and innovation.

For each of these objectives, the strategic guidelines describe areas for further work. Among the areas identified in relation to the objective of building resilience and competitiveness are access to space and water and regulatory and administrative framework.

More information

Commission’s Staff working document “Implementing the Strategic Guidelines for EU aquaculture- Regulatory and administrative framework for aquaculture”

Commission’s Staff working document “Implementing the Strategic Guidelines on EU Aquaculture- Planning of space and access to water for marine aquaculture”

EU Aquaculture Assistance Mechanism


Publication date
29 April 2024
Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries