Making space for increased aquaculture production

Using the Ecosystem Approach to Aquaculture, we are identifying key constraints to aquaculture industry development.

Our objectives

We aim to provide increased space for aquaculture by identifying key constraints limiting development

Increased aquaculture production

Aquaculture needs to increase production in the face of declining wild fish stocks and increased demand for seafood worldwide

Our methods

Aquaculture sites around the world are giving us a closer look at space-related development constraints

Examine different scales

By engaging with stakeholders at 16 case study sites, we are collecting information at a local level and then making comparisons across regions.

Our tools

We are evaluating tools to facilitate the aquaculture planning process to overcome present constraints

Operational toolbox

We will deliver a practical toolbox of functioning tools that have been assessed and tested at our case study sites. Watch this space!

Why Aquaspace?

Aquaculture development in both marine and freshwater environments uses space and other resources which in many cases are finite and in demand from other users.  On the other hand EU consumption of and demand for seafood continues to increase.  The 2014 EU trade deficit in seafood was the largest ever at €16.6B (€ 20.9B imports -4.3B exports).  Aquaculture has potential to reduce this deficit.  Aquaculture globally and at the European continent level is growing at about 7% p.a. but aquaculture in the EU-28 is stagnant (like global capture fisheries) see figure.

The difference between European and EU-28 production is basically Norwegian salmon production which has a compound annual growth rate of about 7%.  So the question is:  why does aquaculture expand in many countries in the world but not in others.  Is it about environmental capacity to sustain increased aquaculture, is it about social capacity to sustain increased production, is it about competition for space?  These are the type of questions that we are trying to unpack and address.

AquaSpace is aproject funded by the EU Horizon 2020 (€3M).
With  22 partners! lasting from March 2015 to February 2018


In addition to developing a useful toolbox for the aquaculture industry, we will also be releasing events and news via Twitter and Facebook so that everyone can learn about our progress, access the resources on this website, and contact us for more information.

“Where does the fish for dinner come from?” – 10 partner countries will host a school video competition.


Join the conversation and follow us on Twitter

Join the conversation and follow us on Twitter

Follow us on twitter


Ireland – Where does the fish for dinner come from?


Project Newsletter Issue 2

The central role of stakeholders

Rather than imposing “academic” solutions (top-down), we emphasise a stakeholder-led approach (bottom-up) which allows the real issues that affect stakeholders to come to the surface where researchers can attempt to make a difference in the real world.  From this follows co-production of knowledge  and transdisciplinarity.

This allows the prospect of directly addressing at least some of the issues that face industry, public planners and society and allowing a better prospect of developing aquaculture production according to the principles of the Ecosystem Approach to Aquaculture (EAA).

Aquaculture is the cultivation of fish, shellfish and aquatic plants mainly for the purpose of food production but sometimes for the purpose of restocking for recreational fishing or conservation.  The industry spans the scales of single owner-operator to multinational corporations and there are a large variety of production infrastructure from tanks, ponds or cages for fish to intertidal bottom culture and suspended culture for shellfish.
Stakeholders is a term that includes people with an interest or concern regarding something.  The term has been criticised because of the image of someone hanging onto their “stake” till the bitter end. Stakeholders in aquaculture development include:

  1. the developer i.e. the commercial entity that proposes the development who may be supported by an association or producers organisation
  2. The planning authority
  3. Statutory consultees of the planning authority – these may include environmental regulators, animal health and hygiene regulators or conservation bodies: in some jurisdictions these can be several of these. Although they are often not based locally they will in general have some interest local to the development.
  4. The public with interests local to the development.
  5. The general public and NGOs who may have no local interest per se but may have strong opinions relating to the development, for example, in terms of cumulative effects.

Engaging with stakeholders has shown to identify research gaps and direct the focus of policy briefs as well as provide a forum for communication between science research, industry, policy-makers, and local communities Weaver et al (2015).

Marine planners are often situated as part of local authority planning departments.  In many cases they are only responsible for planning some of the activities in the marine environment.  In such cases dealing with cross sectoral issues can be difficult or one-sided.  National governments may also have marine planning functions and staff.  In addition, other planning bodies may have remit relating to some aspects of marine planning e.g. the regional Marine Planning Partnerships in Scotland
Aquaculture is generally a highly regulated industry.  Regulations exist to limit environmental effects particularly at the scale of the farm and its local waterbody.  Regulations are usually extensively developed in relation to disease control, the use of medicines and end product safety.  In each case regulations are applied and monitored by regulatory agencies that can demand information of the industry and ensure compliance with standards specified in the large number of licences that are typically required.