Algarve Coast case study2018-08-24T10:02:23+00:00

Algarve Coast case study

Algarve Coast, Portugal

The case study will focus on co-use of space, optimizing space allocation and disease connectivity. Aquaculture in the Algarve region, located in southern Portugal, is traditionally focused on shellfish, but also finfish farms have been established.

In terms of the EU Water Famework Directive, the Algarve coast is classified as a mesotidal, moderately exposed Atlantic coastal type. This coast is affected by seasonal upwelling induced by northerly winds from May to September, which can supply nutrient rich water resulting in high primary productivity contributing to a commercially valuable fishery as well as bivalve aquaculture.

Currently there is a strategic plan to implement the development of the Portuguese aquaculture (Plano Estratégico para a Aquicultura Portuguesa 2014-2020), which follows two main guidelines: 1) The National Strategy for the Sea (2013-2020) approved and published in the “Resolução do Conselho de Ministros nº 12/2014, de 12 de fevereiro”; and 2) the Strategic Guidelines for the sustainable development of EU aquaculture. In the plan, some constraints are identified; one that is mentioned is the exposure of the Portuguese coast to rough sea conditions, especially during the winter period. Therefore, it is considered necessary to develop technological solutions adapted to the environmental conditions, where there are not many natural sheltered areas that will protect aquaculture infra-structures exposed to the open sea. The Algarve coast is considered one the areas with satisfactory conditions to implement offshore structures and there already a number of offshore concessions with longlines for bivalves.

The total production of aquaculture in the Algarve region in 2013 represented a total of 4.403t with an estimated value of 27M euros, which represented an increase compared with 2012, with a production of 3.509t and a value of 24,1M euros. The bivalve aquaculture is still the most important aquaculture type in the Algarve; fish produced in ponds represent only 9, 2%. Most of the bivalve aquaculture sites are located within the Ria Formosa lagoon, where the extensive aquaculture contributes to 88% of the total production. The good clam (Ruditapes decussatus) is the main species being produced, but mussel production doubled from 2012 to 2013 with a total 1 547t, mostly due to the recent offshore installations.

Employment in the aquaculture industry in Portugal for 2011, represented 2.316 direct jobs where 18% where women, and with only 5 companies employing more than 10 people. Most of the workers have low qualifications and working within a family business, but there are also a significant number of people with higher education (university level). The national production of aquaculture for 2012 only contributed 5.4 % (10.317t) to the total seafood landings, and therefore cannot yet be considered an alternative to the traditional fisheries sector. As a contribution to the national strategy, the PROMAR programme (Operational Programme for Sea 2007-2013) has paid 10 319 396 M€ for a total investment of 17 198 993M€ in 34 aquaculture projects in the Algarve upto 2013.

The image below is from a web portal ( operated by the Portuguese government to improve the information and services from public administration about aquaculture. The portal shows the existing aquaculture concessions along the Algarve coast (green and orange) as well as future potential areas (blue boxes) where offshore aquaculture will be allowed.

image004Map of the Algarve region showing the current aquaculture sites (green and orange) and the potential future areas (blue boxes). (Source:



Case study slides