Aquaculture

Aquaculture is the farming of aquatic organisms and is an activity aimed at the production of animal proteins in the aquatic environment, including fish, molluscs, crustaceans, algae and aquatic plants. Aquaculture takes place in both marine and inland areas. Farming implies some form of intervention and control (partial or total, direct or indirect) in the rearing process to enhance production, such as regular stocking, feeding, protection from predators, etc. Farming also implies individual or corporate ownership of the stock being cultivated.

The impacts identified so far are applicable to marine aquaculture in all European islands.

Hazard Physical impacts Socio economic impact
Temperature changes of sea water
  • Increase harmful algal blooms
  • Decreased oxygen level
  • Increase in diseases and parasites
  • Changes in ranges of suitable species
  • Increased growth rate
  • Increased Food Conversion ratio
  • Longer growing season
  • Changes in production levels (decrease or increase in production)
  • Increase in fouling and pests
Changes in currents and waves
  • Decreased flushing rates (shell fish)
  • Accumulation of waste under cages
Increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events
  • Higher waves and storm surges
  • Salinity changes

 

  • Stock loss
  • Damage to facility/structure
  • Need to invest in stronger constructions
  • Higher insurance costs
  • Changes in suitability of sites

Context

“Farming finfish, shellfish and aquatic plants is one of the world’s fastest growing food sectors and provides the planet with about half of all the fish we eat”.

The world’s population is expected to rise to 9.6 billion by 2050, creating a considerable demand for food and sources of protein, and aquaculture can contribute to assure food security, meet nutrition needs, as well as social and economic inclusion, employment and lessen the need for fish imports in some countries (FAO 2016)[Y2] . Sustainable aquaculture is also needed because fisheries alone will not meet the growing demand for seafood (EC, 2015).

In the context of islands, the aquaculture sector needs attention. Although there are hotspots of marine biodiversity because their surrounding near-shore marine areas constitute unique ecosystems, aquaculture has not been developed in its huge potential (World Bank, 2017). Moreover, the ocean that surrounds the islands is of crucial importance as it absorbs vast amounts of CO2, helping to mitigate human-caused global warming, but causing ocean acidification, which leads to dramatic effects (e.g. for calcifying species) on their extraordinarily rich biodiversity. Finally, the diversity of weather and sea conditions in islands leads to very diversified and scenarios production across islands. For example, the stable temperatures in the Atlantic Islands ensure a regular production without seasonality and favour the generation of larger sizes species and ecological certifications but limit the diversity. In other islands (Mediterranean Sea basin for example) weather conditions induce more pathologies but aquaculture production is more heterogeneous.

Definition

Aquaculture is described as the following in the statistical presentation of Eurostat: “Aquaculture, also known as aquafarming, refers to the farming of aquatic (freshwater or saltwater) organisms, such as fish, molluscs, crustaceans and plants, for human use or consumption, under controlled conditions. Aquaculture implies some form of intervention in the natural rearing process to enhance production, including regular stocking, feeding and protection from predators. Farming also implies individual or corporate ownership of, or contractual rights to, the stock being cultivated”.

Other very similar definitions can be extracted from the EU Commission document “Aquaculture in the EU: Tapping into Blue Growth”, EU Parliament document “Directorate-General for Internal Policies Structural and Cohesion Policies: Regulatory and Legal Constraints for European Aquaculture” and from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations – FAO.

Soclimpact assumptions

The aquaculture sector will involve only marine-based operations and will exclude freshwater aquaculture, as well as land-based operations (e.g. ponds and recirculated aquaculture systems -RAS). Despite the apparent impacts of climate change on terrestrial and freshwater operations, these operations are not common on islands and will not be considered. There will not be boundaries on the proximity of aquaculture sites to the island itself; both offshore and coastal operations will be included. Considering the small size of the aquaculture sector, all marine-based and coastal aquaculture operations will be analysed in the impact chains to collect as much data as possible.

Under Soclimpact, “Aquaculture is the farming of aquatic organisms and is an activity aimed at the production of animal proteins in the aquatic environment, including fish, molluscs, crustaceans, algae and aquatic plants. Farming implies some form of intervention and control (partial or total, direct or indirect) in the rearing process to enhance production, such as regular stocking, feeding, protection from predators, etc. Farming also implies individual or corporate ownership of the stock being cultivated.”

According to the Regulation (EC) No 762/2008, the aquaculture production statistics reflect the outputs of the first sale intended for human consumption. Non-commercial aquaculture is rarely accounted for. Moreover, aquaculture production of aquarium and ornamental species and production for industrial, functional or research purposes are also excluded. According to this regulation, data is collected and disseminated yearly in the following tables:

  • Aquaculture production at first sale for human consumption (excluding hatcheries and nurseries) by species, by FAO major area, by cultivation method, by aquatic environment (fish_aq2a).
  • Production of fish eggs (roe) at first sale for human consumption by species, by FAO major area, by aquatic environment (fish_aq2b).
  • Input to capture-based aquaculture, by species (fish_aq3).
  • Production of fertilised eggs at first sale for further on-growing or release to the wild by species (fish_aq4a).
  • Production of juveniles at first sale for further on-growing or release to the wild by species (fish_aq4b).