Aquaculture guidance second draft comments and case studies received from ad hoc group

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Pier Antonio Salvador

API (Associazione Piscicoltori Italiani)





- Two works conducted by the University of Udine (Italy): Efficiency in the use of water resources in freshwater fish farming in Friuli Venezia Giulia and Biotipic conditions of outflow waters in rainbow trout farms of Friuli region.

- 29 case studies (questionnaires).

Most of the case studies are for finfish. There are also shellfish cases (4) and other species (2).

Freshwater (14), marine (10) and brackish water (9).

20 cases are inside Natura 2000 whilst 9 are in N2000 buffer area.

Potential effects of trout plant effluents.

Good Management Practices in aquaculture.

Organic aquaculture certification.

See also: Aquaculture input API

Wendy Altobello – Belgium

(16/01/2012 and 15/02/2012)

Three questionnaires about case studies:

  1. Concession given to AGHO (port authority Oostende)

  2. Institute of Agriculture and Fisheries Research (Ostend)

  3. Aquafarm – Viskwekerij St Pieter.

1. Shellfish, marine. Floating constructions with ropes as substrate for bivalves. No elements of good practices. Activity stopped because of financial and technical constraints.

2. Shellfish (mainly mussels), marine. Research on longlines and cage culture of shellfish. This zone was put forward as a candidate by the NATURA 2000 network. After the experimental use of the “Buiten Ratel” area, four other areas for shellfish culture have been chosen. No adverse effects of the mussel farming are expected.

3. Fresh water, ponds. SAC/SCI. Different stockings of cyprinids (both juveniles and adult fish for restocking and consumption). Protection measures for cormorant. Actor in Life+ project.

2. License conditions: only naturally captured spat can be used (no alien spat) and the mussels are feeding on natural phytoplankton (no external feeding needed). Handling of the mussels is limited to re-socking and harvesting. Estimated impact of on the local primary and secondary production and production of faeces and pseudofaeces .

3. Restoration of open marsh landscape for Bittern and Little Bittern, fish free management of population of tree frog on ponds. Use of protection measures for cormorant (nets, wires above water surface).

Samuel Pacenovsky

SOS/BirdLife Slovakia

(O6/10/2011) (15/01/2012)

Comments to the 2nd draft of the aquaculture guidance (doc.)
Questionnaire about 2 case studies:


2. PERÍN-CHYM FISHPONDS (part of SPA Košická Kotlina)

1. Fresh water. Largest fishpond-system in Slovakia to grow carp Cyprinus carpio. Water and semi-natural wetlands at the site serve as suitable habitat for breeding and migrating populations of waterfowl. Aquaculture activities with positive effect on environment and being in accordance with NATURA 2000 conservation objectives.

2. Fresh water. Old seminatural fishpond system designed for carp (Cyprinus carpio) production. Behaviour and management practices of fishpond managers could be characterised as nature-friendly. No attempts of removal of aquatic vegetation or destruction of bird habitats were experienced, the fishponds still remain in very good environmental condition. They plan to offer eco-tourism services.

1. Positive management practices in accordance with conservation objectives (no removal of aquatic vegetation, approval from the State Environmental Office for drainage and refilling, etc.)

2. Nature-friendly management practices

Siobhán Egan. BirdWatch Ireland (Message sent by Sophie Herbert. BirdLife International).



Comments on the 2nd draft of the aquaculture guidance (Document)
Ireland’s low tide waterbird survey programme (summary)

Annex V- On Appropriate Assessment. There is scope to do a good case study on ‘setting conservation objectives’ which the title alludes to but the piece doesn’t do. NPWS (Birds Unit) have been doing work on this and could be used as an example. Species-specific targeted research is being carried out (on behalf of NPWS and Marine Institute), eg:

- Species avoidance on Oyster tressels in Dundalk Bay

- Oystercatcher foraging behaviour interactions with different age structure of cockles post harvesting in Dundalk Bay

The existing example has to be removed for the following reasons: it doesn’t actually detail the programme in place to set conservation objectives, its talks about an ‘adaptive management’ approach which is in place at the moment. This system is actually not working at the moment. We and other NGOs have withdrawn from the process after 3 years of trying to make it work but in fact it has facilitated non-compliance with Article 6(3). The Commission are aware of this as it is one of the significant things put in place to try to address the ECJ ‘birds case’ finding against Ireland which is still live at the moment (C-418-04). Relevant contacts in NPWS are given.

Survey to address the large information gaps that exist to fully inform the AA process, mainly in low tide data and roost data for species such as Common Scoter.

Andreas von Lindeiner. (BirdLife partner). Germany (16/01/2012)

Summary report of the pilot project in the Aischgrund received from the authorities. 6 location maps (pdf documents).

The maps show aquaculture in strictly protected zones in which no shooting is allowed due to occurrences of sensible bird species. This is an example of conflict management. One oft he main problems of many inland aquaculture rising carps in several European countries (Germany, Poland, France, Czech Republic etc.) are the losses due to Cormorant predation. One of the very important European regions of Carp production is the Aischgrund in Middle Franconia (north of Nürnberg). Actually the authorities have enabled owners of aquaculture sites to shoot juvenile cormorants even during the breeding season to prevent serious damages. These activities were accompanied by a monitoring of protected bird species since these aquacultures have been classified as SPAs. Another project was carried out to evaluate the success of putting so called cormorant refuges into large ponds in protected areas. First results are promising. For small ponds situated in protected areas other methods such as overdrawing the water surface with wide meshed wires are suitable in many cases. All these measures partly included in the toolbox of the INTERCAFE report could be combined in order to find a sustainable way of protecting vulnerable species as well as the fish production.

Conflict management (cormorant predation)

Dr. Lothar Fiedler. Ministry of Environment, Nature Protection and Nuclear Safety. Germany (11/01/2012)


The questionnaire was forwarded to the responsible units in the ministries of the German Federal States but there were no adequate case studies or good practice examples available

Adrien Louyer. Federation of European Aquaculture Producers (FEAP). (16/01/2012)

Six examples of Aquaculture activity in Natura 2000 zones:

1. Aquaculture Activities in Loch Sunart, Highland, Scotland, UK

2. Aquaculture Activities in Lochs Duich, Alsh and Long, Highland, Scotland, UK

3. Questionnaire about a case study GRUPO TRES MARES S.A. in Spain

4. Examples of Aquaculture activities in Habitat Areas in Denmark

5. Aquaculture Activities in Loch Creran, Argyll & Bute, Scotland, UK

6. Aquaculture Activities in Loch Dunvegan, Isle of Skye, Scotland, UK

1. Three salmon farming sites in operation within the Sunart SAC. The site encompasses old sessile oak woods, reefs and otter (Lutra lutra). Good practices to prevent significant impacts to the integrity of the SAC when 9 previous salmon and halibut farms were consolidated into these 3 larger salmon farms.

2. This site is an extensive area of extremely sheltered reefs within a system of fjordic sea lochs in north-west Scotland. 3 salmon farming sites in operation within this SAC (circular cages with feed barge systems). Good practices to prevent significant impacts to the integrity of the SAC when salmon farms were modified on several occasions in recent years

3. Fin fish, brackish waters. Concrete ponds. SCI Costa da Morte. Tres Mares is a trout farm. Good practices: bird nets, treatment of their effluent, etc. Farm certified in GLOBALGAP, an international environmental certification.

4. Sig Fishery example (Model Trout Farm, fauna passages in the river…).Rens Dambrug example (The water intake has been changed from intake via a dam in the stream to ground water intake. The dam has been removed and the river restored. The fish farm was changed to a high degree recirculation farm). Fruerlund Dambrug example (A Habitat Impact Assessment concluded that water intake and fish farming would not prevent the favourable conservation status for habitat types and species)

5. SAC site particularly notable for calcareous reefs. Aquaculture includes farming Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) in sea pens and producing pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas) on the inter-tidal mud flats. No overlap between the farming activity and the reefs. No disturbance to the seabed. Appropriate assessment in 2006.

6. This SAC in the North West of Skye consists of a complex series of skerries, islets, undisturbed mainland shores and offshore islands which consistently support a breeding colony of the common seal (Phoca vitulina). The farm has been recently increased and currently includes farming Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) in sea pens. Measures against seal’s predation: acoustic deterrent devices, anti-predator nests…

1. AA: Potential impacts. The development proposals were adapted accordingly to prevent significant impacts to the integrity of the SAC

2. Two appropriate assessments completed in 2006 and in 2011. Video surveys of the seabed and studies to determine whether any qualifying features were present in areas of potential impact. The development proposals were then adapted accordingly to prevent significant impacts to the integrity of the SAC.

3. Good practices. Certification schemes (brief information)

4. Very brief examples about mitigation measure (fauna passage), restoration.

5. AA in 2006: Management forum creation. Good practices to ensure low impact to any reef structure following advice from Scottish Natural Heritage.

6. Screening: AA no needed (works to increase the size of the farm are unlikely to have a significant effect on the seals either directly or indirectly)

Eamonn Kelly - (DAHG). Ireland

02/11/2011) (21/12/2011)

- Observations and comments on the 2nd draft of the aquaculture guidance.

-Example of applying Article 6(3) to aquaculture projects. Several documents:

- Conservation objectives for Castlemaine SAC and SPA

- Conservation objectives supporting document – coastal habitats

- Conservation objectives supporting document – marine habitats

- Conservation objectives supporting document – woodlands habitats

Example of a full appropriate assessment process that was conducted for multiple aquaculture and supporting projects in Castlemaine Harbour SAC and SPA. Site-specific conservation objectives were prepared for the site. An example of the output of the AA, specifically in relation to aquaculture activities, was the recommendation that continued monitoring of sensitive habitats and seabirds be allied with specific management actions. The goal of these actions is to mitigate the risks of negative interactions between the conservation features and pressures arising from aquaculture. In addition, the licensing process incorporates a consultation phase.

Full appropriate assessment process: conservation objectives, specific management actions and recommendations, consultation phase…

Erlinde Kuijpers. Netherlands Government


Two examples:

1. Multi-annual agreements for manual cockle fisheries in the Wadden Sea

2. Seed mussel fisheries in Natura 2000 sites in the Wadden Sea

1. Example of a situation in which (small) commercial activities within the N2000 area Wadden Sea are possible. Legal dispute between cockle pickers and nature conservation organisations had come to enter into multi-annual agreements to provide them both economic and ecological security.

2. Some 890 hectares in Natura 2000-sites Waddenzee, Oosterschelde and Voordelta were designated as potential locations for seed mussel. An assessment was made and the activities required for the introduction of seed mussel collection systems were studied. The type of system turned out not to affect the carrying capacity of the site, the seabed, seals or birds.

1. Management agreement for the sustainable continuation of manual cockle fisheries in the Wadden Sea. Consultation with stakeholders: zoning of Waden Sea for manual cockle fishing.

2. Strategic planning: determining suitable locations for aquaculture. AA of the potential locations (assessment based on a worst-case scenario). Also monitoring programme, cumulative impacts

Tomasz Figarski. Poland Government. (16/01/2012)

Case study Fish Farm Ślesin

Fin fish, fresh water. SPA area where carps are farmed in several ponds. Important area for several protected bird species. Good practice measures: preservation for breeding places for birds, floating islands and platforms, ornithological observation, etc.

Good practice measures

Mario Silva. ICNB



Two documents:

  1. A study comparing the diversity of water birds in four habitats at Sado estuary SCI/SPA: fish farm, salt marsh, abandoned saltpan and active saltpan.

  2. Aquaculture activities in Sado Estuary Nature Reserve, Portugal (questionnaire)

The Sado Estuary is one of the most important estuarine areas in Portugal. This environment has been reclaimed through time for human activities such as saltpans, rice fields and fish farming. Main cultivated fish species are the Gilthead Seabream (Sparus aurata), European Seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax) and Common Sole (Solea vulgaris) European eel Anguilla anguilla. Shellfish production also occurs in Sado Estuary for Portuguese Oyster (Crassostrea angulata), Clam (Ruditapes decussatus) and Atlantic ditch shrimp (Palaemonetes varians). Extensive and semi-intensive aquaculture activities are authorized under certain conditions of sustainable use and integrated management practices that aim at protecting natural habitats for nature conservation and biodiversity:

-Intensive aquacultures are not authorized;

-Shallow intertidal and sub tidal areas only allow the establishment of shellfish production farms;

-Saltpans can be converted into fish farms as long as it is demonstrated that they have been inactive for the past 5 years and that there is no alternative location;

-Technical details regarding water levels and areas reserved for nature conservation and biodiversity are specifically indicated for saltpans converted into fish farms;

-Operational conditions regarding wildlife protection structures and vehicle operations are identified;

-Building constraints for light and mobile interpretation infra-structures are established;

Conditions. Integrated management practices. The implementation of aquaculture projects in new locations other than existing saltpans must include:

- Environmental impact assessment;

- Regular reporting and monitoring;

- Exclusive use of native species;

- Specific conditions to reduce the impact in case of feeding supplements usage;

- Reporting of any chemical substances used;

- Building constraints according to the implementation area.

Clare Eno. Countryside Council for Wales (UK).


Several documents:

  1. Case study: Menai Strait West

  2. Management Plan and Regulating Orders for Menai Strait Fishery Order Management Association

  3. Bangor Mussel Producers Association. Code of Good Practice for mussel seed movements

  4. Map of the area

  5. A study: A behaviour-based modelling approach to reducing shorebird–shellfish conflicts

  6. Sensitivity maps

  7. Summary of the case

1. The Menai Strait and Conwy Bay SAC is used as an example for illustrating aquaculture (shellfish, marine) within a Welsh SAC. Two forms of aquaculture occur within this SAC. It contains the largest area of mussel lays in the UK, and it also contains oyster trestles which are used mainly for both Pacific oysters (plus some trials of native flat oysters Ostrea edulis).

Tests of Likely Significant Effects and Appropriate Assessments have been undertaken for each of the management areas. In these no likely significant effect was expected on the features of the site, provided that management measures already in place were maintained and some additional management measures relating to cultivation of Pacific oysters were adhered to. The assessment of no likely significant effect was on the basis of the existing fishery with the current (eg mussel) habitats.

A code of conduct on invasive non natives species has been agreed which relates to the transport of shellfish into the Strait and aims to minimise the risk of introductions.

Tests of Likely Significant Effects and Appropriate Assessments have been undertaken for each of the management areas. Preventive measures: code of conduct on invasive non natives species.

Sensitivity maps.

Clare Eno. Countryside Council for Wales (UK).


  1. Case study: Adaptive Management Plan, Mussel Several Order.

  2. Questionnaire: Mussel Several Order.

  3. Maps (powerpoint)

Mussel Several Order will occupy a 21 ha area within an existing natural mussel bed in a SPA. The Several Order application has undergone an Appropriate Assessment which concluded ‘no adverse effect on site integrity, provided all proposed mitigation measures would be implemented”. There is a Management Plan based on Adaptive Management (key component of ecosystem-based management). An Adaptive Management Protocol has recently been developed by the Shellfish Association of Great Britain, Natural England and Seafish which provides a framework for developing monitoring and associated management options that address residual risks. Operational practices:

- Disturbance avoidance

- Developing best practice and understanding

- Management Review and Adaptation

Annex: TEST OF LIKELY SIGNIFICANT EFFECT (‘SIGNIFICANCE TEST’) for estuaries, mudflats and sandflats not covered by seawater at low tide…

Test of significant effect. AA. Example of mitigation including adaptive management.

Helen Stevens, Natural England (UK)


1. Hand-worked cockle fishery in the Wash: two main documents (Likely Significant Effect and Record of Appropriate Assessment) and several annexes (agreed management measures, cockle stock summary, chart showing the distribution of cockle beds in the Wash 2011, common seal haulout analysis)

2. Mussel Cultivation in The Wash (two documents: “Report about the review of consents granted” and “Additional Information”: Assessment of Pacific Oyster cultivation, impact of lays on biotopes at the local level and effects of Wash Fishery Order lays on SPA species)

1. Commercial hand-gathering of cockles in the Wash SPA and SAC from June 2011 to May 2012. Assessment of potential impacts in 2010, found not to cause significant adverse effects to the cockle population or the supporting habitat. Test about vulnerability of the interest features in 2011 (Sand and gravel communities, Muddy sand communities and Mud communities). Likely significance effects test in 2011 (alone and in combination with other plans or projects). Appropriate Assessment in 2011.

2. Within the review:

- Test of Likely Significance: the leasing of plots for shellfish cultivation through the fishery order was not necessary for conservation management purposes, and the leases were

likely to have a significant effect on the European Marine Site.

- Natural England’s scoping advice for appropriate assessment. Potentially affected features: Intertidal mudflats and sandflats, Subtidal sandbanks, Large shallow inlets and bays, common seal, reefs, etc)

- Assessment of impacts of mussel cultivation (Physical loss by smothering, Phytoplankton levels and nutrient cycling,

- Sediment disturbance and deposition

- Nutrient processes

- Conclusions

1. Screening: significance effects -> YES. 2011 Appropriate Assessment (conservation objectives, potential effects, in combination effects with other activities, agreed management measures). The assessment has concluded that the plan or project, as proposed, would not adversely affect the integrity of the site.

2. Screening: significance effects. Appropriate Assessment: no adverse effect on the integrity of the site.

Ministry of Environment. Spain Government.


Two books:

  1. Inland aquaculture and the environment.

  2. Diversification in aquaculture: a tool for sustainability

1. This guide highlights the current challenges of sustainable inland aquaculture and provides useful guidelines for decision makers and managers, around several issues:

- aquaculture interaction with the environment

- proper location of the inland aquaculture facility

- efficient management of the mains inputs


The guides include several case studies but all of them outside N2000. Guideline 2 has a case study about site selection where N2000 is taken into account (pg 19).

France. Christine OREFICI


Questionnaire about « Parc naturel Régional de la Brenne ».

Fish farming with over 300 owners (including 200 members of the Union of fish farms): carp, pike, tench (Tinca tinca), zander (Sander lucioperca) and others.

During the period 2009-2010, the Park prepared the aqua-environmental measures "fish ponds", whose main objective is to develop aquaculture production methods contributing to the improvement of the environment and preservation of nature. There is a current management plan and a working group for identifying possible agreements with fish farmers (including measures, compensation…)

Aqua-environmental measures. Working group for identifying possible agreements with fish farmers. Objectives: conservation of natural habitats, restoration of aquatic vegetation and shoreline, Maintenance of the surroundings, water analysis, Analysis of sediment, removal of invasive plant species, Intervention on the animal species that have negative impacts on the lakes…

France: Adrien Louyer (FEAP)


Several examples of integrated aquaculture activities in Natura 2000 in France


- Circulaire «mesures aqua-environnementales» du Fonds Européen pour la Pêche (FEP)

- Code of good practices

- Rhone Alpes: creation of the Guide on "the sustainable management of ponds in the Dombes area". This guide established objectives and recommended practices so as to fulfill the Natura 2000 classification and to maintain a sustainable economic activity that can also manage the environment and the landscape.

- Lorraine: There are many ponds in this area and these ponds are managed and used for aquaculture activities. This position shows that aquaculture activities are compatible with nature conservation. Aquaculture ponds allow the development of specific aquatic flora. One of the objectives of the DOCOB document for this site is to "Promote a traditional aquaculture that is the only way to maintain the aquatic flora diversity". Several recommendations to promote aquaculture activities.

France, using the EFF, has developed specific management actions (“mesures aqua-environmentales” - MAquaE) which provide compensation to fish farmers that set up, on a voluntary basis, aquaculture methods that enhance nature preservation and provide positive environment effects.

- Guidelines on sustainable management of ponds (objectives, measures…)

- Aqua-environmental Measures that provide compensation to fish farmers.

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