Book Chapter

Review of environmental impact assessment and monitoring in aquaculture in Europe and North America


Telfer T, Atkin H & Corner R (2009) Review of environmental impact assessment and monitoring in aquaculture in Europe and North America. In: Aquaculture Management and Conservation Service, Fisheries and Aquaculture Management Division & FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department (eds.) Environmental impact assessment and monitoring in aquaculture: Requirements, practices, effectiveness and improvements. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper, 527. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, pp. 385-394.

Environmental impact assessment (EIA) methods and practice, monitoring procedures and legislation were reviewed for aquaculture in Europe and North America. Compilation of this review has allowed comments on both the effectiveness and suggestions for improvements to be given. All freshwater and marine species, other than marine salmon culture, are considered within this review, including where possible invertebrates and fish species grown in the Europe and North America. Countries with considerable quantities of aquaculture production have been highlighted; Canada, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America (USA). In some of these countries the implementation of the EIA process is more refined and important in terms of aquaculture development than others. Despite the commonality of EU Directives, the review highlights that within the EU the mechanisms for EIA and monitoring of environmental impact as a statutory regulatory requirement are extremely inconsistent, ranging from a very precise or prescriptive EIA and monitoring requirement to no requirement at all. EIA implementation often depends on complicated and bureaucratic processes within individual countries, rather than implementation of a system which regulates the development of aquaculture effectively or allowing development of a common policy through effective implementation of EU Directives. In North America, the requirements and practice for the EIA and environmental monitoring process are different and often multi-layered, with conflicts arising between local, regional, state and federal legislation. Which legislation takes precedence varies with location and type of aquaculture development. Adherence to codes of conduct and best practice developed between the industry and authorities are often considered as important as statutory regulation. Though the level of activity varies between locality, country and region, implementation of the EIA and environmental monitoring process in aquaculture is seen as expensive and, to some extent, unnecessary in its present complicated form. The process, in general, would benefit by targeting the information required to manage impacts and estimate capacities rather than to follow a defined procedure on a "one size fits all" basis. This targeted information may vary with cultured species, location and type of development. In addition, the contribution of information from environmental monitoring should also be optimized to be more appropriate. In general, the EIA process for aquaculture developments is poorly implemented, with little transparency or focus. In particular, there is still much work to do to improve its use and implementation in farm-level, sectoral and environmental management. Clearly, better cooperation between regulatory bodies and aquaculture management has lead to more efficient, workable and less bureaucratic forms of environmental regulation and codes of practice being developed in some countries. In turn, this has lead to more successful and sustainable aquaculture developments.

Title of seriesFAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper
Number in series527
Publication date31/12/2009
PublisherFood and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Publisher URL
Place of publicationRome
ISSN of series2070-7010