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

In Europe, aquaculture accounts for about 20% of fish production and directly employs some 70,000 people. The sector is mainly composed of SMEs or micro-enterprises in coastal and rural areas. EU aquaculture is renowned for its high quality, sustainability and consumer protection standards.

EU overall output has been more or less constant in volume since 2000 whereas global production, at the same time, has been growing by nearly 7% per year.

Coordinated EU aquaculture policy

The Commission intends to boost the aquaculture sector through the Common Fisheries Policy reform, and in 2013 published Strategic Guidelines presenting common priorities and general objectives at EU level. Four priority areas were identified in consultation with all relevant stakeholders:

  • reducing administrative burdens
  • improving access to space and water
  • increasing competitiveness
  • exploiting competitive advantages due to high quality, health and environmental standards.

On the basis of the guidelines, the Commission and EU countries are collaborating to help increase the sector's production and competitiveness. EU countries have been asked to set up multiannual plans to promote aquaculture. The Commission is helping with the identification of bottlenecks but also facilitates cooperation, coordination and exchange of best practices between EU countries. The strategic guidelines on aquaculture are currently being revised. 

Main Member State policy priorities and spending

The latest infographic on Aquaculture in the EU analysing the main priorities of aquaculture development across Member States as well as planned actions by Member States.

The Commission has produced a graphical overview of the main actions Member States have planned to take in order to address the four priorities linked with how EMFF funding will be spent.  More detail on the specific actions planned by each individual Member State can be found in the Multiannual national plans page.


The European Commission has launched a number of campaigns to promote sustainable aquaculture in the EU. Most recently these include the Tapping Into Blue Growth conference, the Farmed in the EU campaign and the aquaculture schools project. These campaigns aim to highlight the role of aquaculture for EU citizens and to pass the message about what aquaculture is all about.




Official documents

Interim Evaluation of the Open Method of Coordination (OMC) for the Sustainable Development of EU Aquaculture - SWD(2020) 6 final

Strategic Guidelines for the sustainable development of EU aquaculture - COM/2013/229 - Communication to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions (29/04/2013)

Alien species

Regulation (EU) No 304/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 March 2011 amending Council Regulation (EC) No 708/2007 concerning use of alien and locally absent species in aquaculture

Council Regulation (EC) No 708/2007 concerning use of alien and locally absent species in aquaculture

Organic aquaculture

Commission Regulation (EC) No 710/2009 of 5 August 2009 amending Regulation (EC) No 889/2008 laying down detailed rules for the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007, as regards laying down detailed rules on organic aquaculture animal and seaweed production

Regulation (EC) No 889/2008 laying down detailed rules for the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 on organic production and labelling of organic products with regard to organic production, labelling and control

Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 of 28 June 2007 on organic production and labelling of organic products and repealing Regulation (EEC) No 2092/91

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council, Building a sustainable future for aquaculture, A new impetus for the Strategy for the Sustainable Development of European Aquaculture - COM/2009/0162 final

Further reading