On the 1st of July 2010, new rules covering organic aquaculture production of fish, shellfish and seaweed entered into force. Regulation 710/2009 set conditions for the aquatic production environment and impacts on other species. It deals with the separation of organic and non-organic units and specifies animal welfare conditions including maximum stocking densities, a measurable indicator for welfare.
The maximum stocking density for salmon is set at 10 kilograms per cubic metre (kg/m3) in net pens in sea water and 20 kg/m3 in freshwater.
For sea bass and sea bream the maximum density is 15 kg/m3 in the sea and four kg/m3in earth ponds and lagoons.
The rules specify that biodiversity should be respected, and does not allow the use of induced spawning by artificial hormones. Organic feeds should be used supplemented by fish feeds derived from sustainably managed fisheries. Special provisions are made for bivalve mollusc production and for seaweed.
In 2008 there were an estimated 123 certified organic aquaculture farms in Europe, out of a total of 225 worldwide. These accounted for almost half of the world production, which was approximately 50,000 tonnes in 2008. Production statistics for organic fish production in 2012 for the main European producing countries, are provided in the September 2013 issue of 'Aquaculture Europe' magazine published by the European Aquaculture Society in the article entitled 'The current status and future perspectives of European Organic Aquaculture'
The biggest players in the EU in terms of production are, Ireland, the UK, Greece France and Germany. Farmers mostly breed salmon. Organic salmon retails at a price premium of some 50% over conventional farmed salmon. Market growth is particularly strong in France and Germany.. Some €17m seafood is sold under the organic label in France where the market grew by 220% between 2007 and 2008. In Germany, in addition to the specialized organic supermarket outlets, organic seafood is now on offer in discount chains which also operate across the EU.