Various species

Governance and Outlook


Governance systems play an important part in ensuring environmental sustainability, and whilst these have evolved rapidly with the growth of the industry, there are differences between regions and countries. Poor governance can result in industry stagnation, the spread of preventable diseases, environmental damage and opposition to aquaculture activities by local communities and groups such as non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Key governance responsibilities are ensuring environmental assessment and decision making processes are in place for sensitive and coastal ecosystems, which help deliver sustainable aquaculture whilst managing possible adverse impacts. Other regulatory and governance aspects should cover aspects such as water abstraction and discharge, health monitoring, and so forth.

Four principles – accountability, effectiveness and efficiency of governments, equity, and predictability of the rule of law – are necessary for effective aquaculture governance. These principles should guide the administration, legislative and regulatory framework of aquaculture. In addition to governments, other stakeholders such as communities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and producers should also be involved in the governance of the industry1.

The vast majority of scallop production is undertaken in four global regions: Asia-Pacific, Latin and North America, and Europe.


While many countries in Asia-Pacific have made commendable efforts to set up policies, administrative, legal and regulatory frameworks to properly develop and manage aquaculture, some countries in the region are still lagging behind.  However, many Asia-Pacific regional countries (e.g. Australia, NZ) enjoy established strong aquaculture governance structures (policies, institutions, regulations, etc.) in support of sustainable development and management of aquaculture at all levels.

Latin America3

As many wild fish stocks are already exploited at their maximum or have been overfished in Latin America, the significance and contribution of aquaculture will continue to grow. In order to fully realise this potentially valuable contribution to food security and economic growth, Latin America faces a number of challenges in the development and implementation of sound aquaculture governance through policy and planning. In some cases, aquaculture is considered an extension of fisheries, this being a failure to recognise that management strategies for fisheries and aquaculture are different. There is however, a recent recognition in the region of the imperative to create proper management and governance approaches to accommodate aquaculture’s circumstances and the need for governments and industry to work more closely together. Steps are being taken to address this; for instance, the FAOs Blue Growth Initiative for Latin America and the Caribbean has been initiated to improve sustainable management of aquaculture (and fishery) resources4.

North America5

National and provincial/state governments in both Canada and the US have strategies for the development of aquaculture, and governance systems are highly evolved. The thrust of aquaculture development in Canada is focused on environmental sustainability. In the US, development is also geared toward sustainability with offshore expansion.


With the notable exceptions of the major European aquaculture producers Norway, Russia and Turkey, the shaping of regulations and the instruments for development and investment in European aquaculture falls under the European Union (EU), and are highly evolved. The principal frameworks for EU aquaculture is the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) as well as the EU Blue Growth Strategy, intended to stimulate and guide aquaculture development in Europe which is environmentally, socially and economically sustainable. In non-EU member states there are largely equivalent policies.


Although there has been criticism surrounding bivalve aquaculture (e.g. seabed deposition of solid wastes, changes to diversity, depletion of phytoplankton for other species, reduction of light reaching sea-bed), generally the impacts of scallop farming are seen as low and relatively benign7. There are in fact positive impacts and benefits that bivalve aquaculture can have on marine ecosystems8, 9.

Such positive natural or ‘ecosystem service’ aspect of bivalve aquaculture is increasingly being seen as a major factor to promote its growth. However ecosystem services from scallops does not feature strongly in the literature.

Feed is generally perceived to be one of the major risk factors in aquaculture production of fish and crustacea. However mussels consume food that occurs naturally in the environment and are not supplied with commercial aquafeeds; also they are not treated with chemicals or veterinary medicines unlike in other forms of aquaculture. Excluding seaweeds, one-third of all farmed seafood, some 20 million tonnes annually, is produced without additional feeding. The most important non-fed animal species, apart from bivalve molluscs (mainly clams, oysters, mussels and scallops), include two finfish species (silver carp and bighead carp), as well as other filter feeding animals such as sea squirts10.

Bivalve/scallop aquaculture is increasingly being seen the most environmentally sustainable type of seafood production10. As such increased scallop aquaculture is anticipated including the potential for increased production in the UK11. The Seafood 2040 Strategy for instance, highlights bivalve aquaculture as an opportunity to generate sustainable protein for domestic consumption or export, and provide employment in fragile coastal communities12. Increased UK scallop cultivation is likely to be driven by hatchery seed supply and the selling price of the product.

As bivalves are farmed in open marine environments, and because there are no available treatment or vaccination options, disease prevention is essential. Work continues to improve understanding of bivalve diseases and develop innovative solutions and tools for their management and prevention13, 14.


  1. FAO
  2. FAO
  3. FAO
  4. FAO
  5. FAO
  6. FAO
  7. Seafood Watch
  8. Cefas
  9. Gallardi, D., 2014. Effects of Bivalve Aquaculture on the Environment and Their Possible Mitigation: A Review. Fisheries and Aquaculture Journal 5: 105
  10. FAO
  11. Seafish
  12. Seafood 2040
  13. Impact Publications, December 2017 edition