Aquaculture - farming seafood
What is aquaculture?
Aquaculture is the farming of aquatic species - animals and plants - that live in water. This includes:
- Finfish – animals with gills and fins.
- Shellfish – those with shells, for example crustaceans like shrimps, or bivalve molluscs such as mussels.
- Plants – such as seaweeds which are large or ‘macro’ types of algae.
An aquaculture farmer owns the fish or seaweed they are growing, referring to it as their ‘stock’. They need to make sure this stock is kept healthy, grows to the right size and can be harvested at the right time for those who wish to buy it.
Through aquaculture, our oceans, seas, and inland freshwaters hold huge potential to provide us with increased amounts of healthy and nutritious food. This is needed to feed an ever growing human population.
Find out more about the value of aquaculture in the insight and research section of our website:
Responsible and sustainable aquaculture
As with other types of farming, aquaculture is reliant upon the environment and needs to help look after it. There is a strong emphasis within the industry to continue reducing its impacts. This will allow the sector to secure its future as a sustainable source of seafood for generations to come.
Principles of responsible aquaculture
Careful planning and responsible operating of sites is essential to reach production targets that are both profitable and sustainable.
Aquaculture species profiles web tool
We’ve created an online tool with information on species of fish and shellfish which are commonly farmed. Find out more about the tool and access the species profiles from the links below.
Aquaculture engagement and outreach
We’re involved in a number of strategic aquaculture-related groups and initiatives to help support aquaculture activities in the UK.
We facilitate the Aquaculture Common Issues Group. It provides a valuable, regular forum to exchange knowledge and a valuable networking opportunity.
We’re also facilitating a project looking at issues around water quality on behalf of the Shellfish Stakeholder Working Group. It seeks to develop an approach which enables the production of high-quality shellfish that fully meets consumer safety and regulatory requirements.
Starting an aquaculture business
Choosing the correct species and sites are the most crucial decisions to make when starting a business. We offer advice and resources to help culturists make informed decisions when choosing species and sites.
Resources for aquaculture businesses
Sourcing fishmeal and fish oil
The need to provide fishmeal and fish oil as feed is seen as a challenge to the growth of the sector. We have created a short guide on this for aquaculture businesses.
Operating manuals for bivalve purification systems
We have produced a series of operating manuals which can aquaculture operators can use to develop bivalve purification systems.
We have compiled information on the regulations covering aquaculture. It is designed for those looking to start up in seafood farming or for those who need some additional support.
Aquaculture careers and training
Further information on careers and training for the sector is available in the safety and training section of our website.
Further sources of information
- Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO)
- British Trout Association (BTA)
- Shellfish Association of Great Britain (SAGB)
- Association of Scottish Shellfish Growers (ASSG)
- Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS)
- Marine Scotland
- Welsh Government
- Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Northern Ireland (DAERA NI)
- Scottish Seaweed Industry Association (SSIA)
- Marine Management Organisation (MMO)
- The Crown Estate
- Crown Estate Scotland
EU and global contacts:
- Federation of European Aquaculture Producers (FEAP)
- European Commission - Aquaculture (EC)
- United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) – Aquaculture
Standards and certification:
Get in touch
We can provide help and advice on anything to do with aquaculture.