The European Commission has published a new action plan to accelerate the development of the organic sector. The plan will boost the production and consumption of organic products, in order to reach 25% of agricultural land under organic farming by 2030, as well as a significant increase in organic aquaculture, as set in the EU’s Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies.
Structured around 23 actions, the plan provides the sector with the right tools and enhances the role of organics in the fight against climate change and sustainable resource management, contributing to healthier and biodiverse ecosystems.
Organic farming, including aquaculture, responds to the growing societal demand for quality food produced at high environmental and animal welfare standards. It can contribute to the protection of nature and help reverse the degradation of ecosystems, and plays an important role in the Green Deal ambition of transitioning to sustainable food production and consumption.
With only 4% of total aquaculture production (2015), organic aquaculture is still in its early stages in Europe. Lately, however, the sector seems to be bursting out of its niche. The EUMOFA EU Fish Market 2020 Edition reports a 20% growth in the consumption of organic aquaculture products over the last 5 years, up to even 48% in the case of France. A substantial part of the demand is met through imports coming from e.g. the UK and Norway. This highlights the growth potential and the business opportunities for EU producers.
The action plan: 3 axis, 23 actions
The action plan for the development of the organic sector puts forward actions structured around three axis:
- boosting consumption while maintaining consumer trust
- increasing production
- improving further the sustainability of the sector
To further boost consumption, the action plan emphasizes the importance of communicating about organic farming and its benefits and includes actions such as EU promotion campaigns or strengthening the fight against fraudulent practices, as well as improving traceability.
In line with the new organic legislation, which will enter into application on 1 January 2022, the European Commission also aims at fostering local and small-scale processing. This is crucial to ensure organised and efficient supply chains for organic products and to make sure that small producers can find an outlet for their production.
The Commission will also support research and innovation, for example to improve animal nutrition in accordance with organic rules.
The final section of the action plan emphasises organic farming’s drive to lead by example in the transition to sustainable agriculture and aquaculture. This includes a more efficient use of resources, which remains a challenge for the whole agriculture and aquaculture sector. The Commission will, for example, draft guidelines to minimise the use of plastics and will promote efficient use of water and energy.
Which instruments can contribute to boosting organic aquaculture?
The common fisheries policy provides for means to promote the sustainable development of EU aquaculture. The upcoming new Commission strategic guidelines for EU aquaculture (to be adopted next month) will promote organic aquaculture as one of the ways to increase the sustainability of aquaculture production.
The Commission also encourages EU Member States to include organic aquaculture in the (ongoing) review of their national strategic plans and support this type of aquaculture production with part of the funds available under the new European Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF 2021-2027).
Horizon Europe will continue to support research an innovation for organic aquaculture. In addition, the EU method of policy coordination for aquaculture (so called Open Method of Coordination) will continue to allow EU Member States and stakeholders to exchange best practices and innovative approaches to further develop organic aquaculture.
Organic aquaculture production in the EU
EU countries with the largest organic aquaculture production volumes in 2019
27 264 Mt
9 608 Mt
8 536 Mt
7 062 Mt
5 004 Mt
2 970 Mt
1 493 Mt
1 267 Mt
In Europe (2015) the main species produced under organic standards were
Top 5 organic aquaculture species
Production (Metric tons, rounded)
% of EU total production
Main producing countries
16 000 Mt
20 000 Mt
Ireland, Italy, Denmark
6 000 Mt
Hungary, Romania, Lithuania
5 000 Mt
Seabass and seabream
2 000 Mt
France, Greece, Spain
 Report “The world of organic agriculture – statistics and emerging trends 2021”, FiBL& IFOAM – Organics International
 EUMOFA study on organic aquaculture (2017)
- Publication date
- 25 March 2021
- Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries