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© G. Paximadis / WWF Greece
Aquaculture already accounts for more than half of the Mediterranean’s total fishery output.

In line with global trends – the sector is projected to continue growing. 62% of fish for human consumption is expected to be produced by aquaculture by 2030 in the Mediterranean.

Aquaculture farms are known to operate in at least 10 marine protected areas (MPAs) and 60 Natura 2000 sites in the Mediterranean.

Aquaculture operations usually require shallow areas with good water quality, which is also a characteristic of many coastal Marine Protected Areas – the two are increasingly overlapping in the Mediterranean. 

Fish aquaculture’s environmental effects depend very much on the size of the farms, the production systems and management methods used, and also on the marine habitats in which they’re located, but can include: escapes and introduction of non-indigeous species, excessive intakes of nutrients in the food web, plastic pollution and effluent discharges.

At the same time, with almost 80% of wild fish stocks in the region at risk of overfishing, aquaculture represents the most effective way of meeting the still rising demand for fish and shellfish products.

Going forward, it’s clear that some areas should be kept completely off-limits, but with careful Marine Spatial Planning it should still be possible to support a growing sustainable aquaculture sector without causing irreparable harm to vital ecosystems.

The map shows fish farms located in national MPAs, Natura 2000 sites and areas with both designations in the Mediterranean.
Ecologically fragile areas should be kept entirely off limits, but in other areas it may be possible to support a sustainable aquaculture sector without causing irreparable harm to vital ecosystems.