Invasive alien species are one of the key causes of loss of native species and harm to bio-diversity. As an economic activity taking place in the aquatic environment, aquaculture can be one of the vectors for the introduction of new species, but it is also particularly exposed to the negative impacts and risks deriving from the proliferation of invasive alien species. This is why the Regulation on the use of alien and locally absent species in aquaculture provides a framework to ensure adequate protection of aquatic habitats from the risks associated with the use of non-native species in aquaculture. The objective is to optimise benefits associated with introductions and translocations while at the same time avoiding negative impacts on ecosystems and indigenous populations.
The Regulation requires the translocation of species to be authorised by a Competent Authority, and to be recorded in a publicly available register. It allows exceptions for specific cases such as closed recirculation systems, where the risks of interactions with the external environment are minimal. It also recognises that some alien species have commonly been used in aquaculture for a long time in certain parts of the EU – for example, carp was introduced in Europe in Roman times, and Pacific oyster has been farmed since the end of the 19th century. These species, listed in Annex IV to the Regulation, are exempt from most provisions of the Regulation.
In a broader context, the EU has put in place a horizontal framework for the prevention, early detection, rapid eradication, and management of invasive alien species across the whole of the EU, through Regulation 1143/2014 on invasive alien species. To this aim, a list of invasive alien species of Union concern will be drawn up and managed with Member States using risk assessments and scientific evidence.