International Council for the Exploration of the Sea
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Working Group on Environmental Interactions of Aquaculture (WGEIA)

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posted on 2020-01-01, 00:00 authored by ICESICES

Most of the aquaculture production today takes place in Asia. In 2018, ICES countries reported a relatively modest production of 3.3 mill. metric tonnes from freshwater (1.1%), brackish water (8.5%) and marine (80.4%) aquaculture. Efforts are now being made to increase sustainable aquaculture in ICES countries, and in particular of marine aquaculture.

Environmental impacts are one of the factors limiting aquaculture growth, and Working Group on Environmental Interactions of Aquaculture (WGEIA) has prioritized areas where improved aquaculture management can lead to better environmental performance of the aquaculture industry. WGEIA has reviewed laws and regulatory standards for monitoring and managing environmental impacts of marine aquaculture, and the corresponding thresholds values established by contributing ICES countries with the aim of improving current management options. China, the main contributor to global marine aquaculture (ToRa) was also included in this review.

For each country considered in the review, responsible agencies, laws and regulations, monitoring, mitigation, and knowledge gaps were identified for each of the following issues: effluents pathogens/parasite transfer, genetic and ecological issues (finfish), and effluents, pathogens, escapes, interaction with wild species, effects on sensitive habitat/spawning areas (shell-fish). Variations in the regulatory systems dealing with the main risks issues were found between countries. In general, the regulatory and monitoring systems for organic waste are well developed, but to a lesser and varying degree for the other challenges.

WGEIA makes recommendations for prioritized research to elucidate knowledge gaps in aquaculture-environment interactions that are needed for effective industry regulation for the main risk issues (ToRb).

Looking ahead, a follow-on working group ("Risk assessment of Environmental Interactions of Aquaculture; WGREIA) will be established to (1) publish the main results from WGEIA in a peer-review journal and (2) address and publish risk assessment methods for environmental impacts of aquaculture.


Published under the auspices of the following ICES Steering Group or Committee

  • ASG

Published under the auspices of the following ICES Expert Group or Strategic Initiative



ICES Scientific Reports





Contributors (Editors)

Terje Svåsand

Contributors (Authors)

Lars Asplin; Adele Boyd; Tim Ellis; Nigel Brian Keeley; Olav Moberg; Ingrid Burgetz; Cecilia Engler Lynne Falconer; Ulfert Focken; Ellen Sofie Grefsrud; Liu Hui; Geir Jakobsen; Unn Laksa; Erik-Jan Lock; Chris McKindsey; Andrew Moore; David Morris; Gunnvør á Nordi; Francis O'Beirn; Lisbeth Jess Plesner; Ken Riley; Michael Rust; Monica F. Solberg; Terje Svåsand; Trevor Telfer; Ivan Viegas



Recommended citation

ICES. 2020. Working Group on Environmental Interactions of Aquaculture (WGEIA). ICES Scientific Reports. 2:112. 187 pp.