Global, Regional and National Perspectives
New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Edited by Nigel Bankes, Irene Dahl and David L. VanderZwaag
Chapter 6: European Union aquaculture law and policy: prescriptive, diffuse and requiring further reform
The aquaculture industry is a significant maritime food sector, which is worth about EUR 4 billion to the European Union’s (EU) economy annually. Moreover, aquaculture has increased in importance with the depletion of wild fish stocks and has evolved over the past decade into a sector that is heavily regulated at both EU and national levels in the Member States. Accordingly, this chapter presents a brief overview of the relatively complex and disparate laws and policies on the management of aquaculture in the EU. As will be seen below, EU legislation touches all aspects of the industry, both directly and indirectly, including licensing, planning, environmental protection, consumer safety, as well as providing a framework for resolving conflicts with other uses of the marine environment in the form of maritime spatial planning measures. Furthermore, aquaculture is one of the five strands that make up the EU’s Blue Growth Strategy, and its future development can thus contribute to the economic prosperity of the Member States through the creation of employment in the so-called blue economy and by providing high quality products to the European and global seafood markets. In light of these considerations this chapter provides an economic overview of the sector, traces the fragmented development of a distinctive EU policy and highlights a number of key features therein, including the legal basis in EU primary and secondary legislation, the approach adopted under the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), the Strategic Guidelines for Sustainable Aquaculture Development, and measures to improve stakeholder engagement in policy matters, as well as to improve the planning and management of aquaculture at a national level in the Member States. At appropriate points in the text below, reference is made to a number of specialist studies on the subject. This chapter focuses on marine aquaculture, that is to say the farming of marine organisms in a controlled environment, and does not address in any great detail the law pertaining to the collection or harvesting of wild crustaceans, molluscs or aquatic plants. In many instances, the latter fall within the scope of the fisheries legislation that makes up the CFP, along with national legislation in the Member States. Similarly, freshwater aquaculture is only mentioned en passant.
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