Europe sees net gains from aquaculture 

‘Aquaculture is creating economic growth, employment and economic stability, especially in rural areas and along coastal areas’ – EU fisheries commissioner, Karmenu Vella

By Fabian Dawson

Aquaculture in all its forms is helping to play a key role in creating jobs and contributing to a strong economy in Europe, data from the 2018 Economic report of the EU Aquaculture Sector, published this week, shows.

The EU aquaculture sector reached 1.4 million tonnes in sales volume and €4.9 billion in sales value, in 2016. This corresponds to an increase of 6% in sales volume and 8% in the sales value compared to 2014, the report said.

The positive economic development is being seen for all the three sub-segments of European aquaculture – marine fishes, freshwater fishes and shellfish –  which are all providing positive economic growth and generating positive profits.

The European Union now is fully committed to a large scale expansion of aquaculture by member states, according EU fisheries commissioner, Karmenu Vella. (pictured)

“We want sustainable farming to flourish…It is an industry that creates economic growth, employment and economic stability, especially in rural areas and along coastal areas,” Vella said at the 50th anniversary of the European Fisheries Partnership in Brussels, prior to the report being released.

Here are some of the key findings of the 2018 Economic report of the EU Aquaculture Sector;

  • Aquaculture production in the 28 EU Member States reached 1.42 million tonnes and accounted for €4.89 billion in 2016. The EU represents 1.2% of the world aquaculture production in volume and 1.9% in value
  • Spain is the largest aquaculture producer in the EU covering 21% of the production volume, followed by France (15%), the United Kingdom and Italy (both with 14%), and Greece (with 10%). These five countries account for 74% of the total EU aquaculture production volume.
  • In terms of value, United Kingdom is the largest contributor in EU with 21% of the total, followed by France (16%), Spain (13%), Greece (12%) and Italy (11%). These five countries combine 73% of the total EU aquaculture value.
  • The total number of enterprises in the EU is estimated to be 12,500. Almost 90% of the enterprises in the aquaculture sector are micro-enterprises, employing less than 10 employees. The number of employees in EU was estimated to be 75,300 in 2016.
  •  The average yearly wage for an aquaculture worker was €25 000, corresponding to a 7% increase compared to 2014. The labour productivity has also increased by 20%. Furthermore, all other economic indicators also increased from 2014 to 2016.
  • The main species produced in terms of value are Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout and European seabass, whereas the unidentified mussels, which the experts believe to be Mediterranean mussels, dominate in weight.
  • In the marine sector, the United Kingdom is the main producer of salmon covering 91% of the value, while Greece is the main producer of seabream and seabass covering 47% of the value.
  • In the shellfish sector, France and Spain are the most important countries in terms of production volume and value, employment and numbers of enterprises. France is the main producer of oysters covering 86% of the total production, whereas Spain is the main producer of Mediterranean mussels covering 45% of the volume. The main producer of clam is Italy covering 80% of the production, however Portugal has the largest numbers of enterprises and Spain the largest number of employees in this sector.
  • The main species produced in freshwater is trout in terms of volume 69% and value 64%. The most important producers in terms of volume are Italy (19%), Denmark (17%) and France (14%). Carp is another important species mostly produced in Eastern Europe, where the main producer in volume are Poland (24%), Czech Republic (23%) and Hungary (14%).


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