aquaculture, med

Sustainable aquaculture

Aquaculture is a possible alternative way of producing fish in the Mediterranean region. It needs to be integrated with other sectors, such as tourism or traditional fisheries, and its impact on the environment must be reduced to the minimum through proper management.


Aquaculture in the Mediterranean

Aquaculture is expanding quickly in several Mediterranean countries. In many cases, it is implemented in shallow areas for practical reasons, and many environmental problems could arise if the site is not adequately selected. The impact can be very significant for both ecosystems and production. The success and sustainability of an aquaculture project depends on environmental conditions, as well as the social, administrative, economical and technical aspects, so proper site selection is essential and strict management guidelines have to be followed.

At regional level, the aim is to highlight the environmental, social and economic impact of aquaculture on its surroundings and to find solutions to allow its sustainable development. For this purpose, IUCN-Med has worked in close cooperation with the Federation of European Aquaculture Producers (FEAP) and with the support of the Spanish Ministry of Environment, Rural and Marine Affairs, in order to prepare Guidelines for the sustainable development of aquaculture in the Mediterranean.

A series of three Guides for the Sustainable Development of Mediterranean Aquaculture has been published by IUCN-Med:

  • The 1st Guide, focusing on “Interactions between Aquaculture and the Environment”, addresses finfish and shellfish culture, dealing mostly with finfish aquaculture, and specifically cage culture since these activities are predominant in the Mediterranean.
  • The 2nd guide, entitled “Aquaculture Site Selection and Site Management”, seeks to provide the reader with a full set of parameters and ideas to reflect upon and apply to aquaculture site selection and site management.
  • The 3rd guide, entitled “Aquaculture Responsible Practices and Certification” brings into focus several interesting issues for discussion, such as marketing or management support for certification, and the voluntary versus mandatory approach to sustainability certification.

More than 50 experts in different areas, including socio-economists, biologists, lawyers, aquaculture producers, and government and environmental organizations representatives from most Mediterranean countries took part in a number of workshops. These principles and guidelines were the result of extensive debates during these workshops, and subsequent coordination meetings, as well as extensive exchanges amongst experts.

At national level, and according to the commitment to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), where the ecosystem approach was pointed out as a management tool, in 2008 IUCN-Med undertook a field analysis to assess two different aquaculture situations in the North African countries (Triangle Area in Egypt and Tipaza Wilaya in Algeria) with the support of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation AECID). This project aimed to validate the methodology for the implementation of the ecosystem approach to aquaculture. The objective was to assist stakeholders in improving and/or establishing a more robust Ecosystem Based Management (EBM) framework to shift to a consensual approach among all activities in the area.

IUCN-Med is also working in close collaboration with the Committee on Aquaculture (CAQ) of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) in proposing recommendations to be adopted by the GFCM member states. A Memorandum of Understanding between IUCN and GFCM was signed in 2008 which includes aquaculture as priority area of common work.

In 2010, IUCN-Med is taking part in the Mediterrane-on project for the Identification of Sustainable Aquaculture Indicators for the Mediterranean, developed by the Spanish Aquaculture Observatory Foundation (Fundación OESA).  At the same time, a French project on sustainable salmon farming is been led in partnership with the Interprofessional Committee for Aquaculture Products (CIPA), the Aviculture Technical Institute (ITAVI) and the National Institute for Agronomic Research (INRA) in order to provide recommendations for a sustainable development of this sector.


For further information, please contact François Simard