New guidelines on how best to ensure that activities related to aquaculture are compatible with EU nature legislation

The European Commission published guidelines to improve understanding of how aquaculture can be carried out inside Natura 2000, the EU-wide network of protected natural areas. These guidelines focus on the implementation of the provisions on appropriate assessment under the Habitats Directive.

The guidelines on how aquaculture can be carried out inside Natura 2000 published by the European Commission present the policy context of aquaculture development and biodiversity conservation in Europe. They review the potential impacts of the main aquaculture systems on nature and wildlife with special focus on the methods and tools to assess them in the light of the conservation objectives of the sites.

The guidelines explain how these risks should be assessed on a case-by-case basis and how they can best be minimised or avoided altogether. A number of case studies are presented, with examples of good practice showing how sustainable aquaculture development can be compatible with nature protection or enhance it by providing suitable habitats for which many sites have been designated. The document provides a step-by-step guide to the required assessment procedures with relevant examples and practical recommendations.

In the EU, aquaculture production is an important economic activity in many coastal and continental regions but has remained stable in recent years in sharp contrast with worldwide trends. The reform of the Common Fisheries Policy aims to develop the full potential of EU aquaculture in line with the Europe 2020 objectives: sustainability, food security, growth and employment.