Governance and Outlook — Seafish


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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, stakeholders such as communities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and producers should also be involved industry governance1.

The vast majority of turbot production is undertaken in two global regions: Europe and Asia-Pacific.


Farmed turbot that supplies the UK is largely undertaken in economically advanced EU countries. The shaping of the regulations and instruments for the development of and investment in most of the aquaculture sector in Europe, falls under EU control and are highly evolved. The principal frameworks for EU aquaculture are the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and the EU Blue Growth Strategy, intended to stimulate and guide aquaculture development in Europe which is environmentally, socially and economically sustainable. European regulations require all aquaculture production businesses to be registered with the authorities. There are also a range of important environmental regulations that these producers need to adhere to, minimising the potential adverse effects posed to the environment. These typically regulate site location (planning), the use of chemicals, release of nutrients, escapes of farmed animals and other key environmental risks. Disease risks are also tightly regulated in such producer countries with inspection scheme processes to confirm farms are free of serious (e.g. notifiable) diseases.


Overall, many countries in the Asia-Pacific have made efforts to set up policies, administrative, legal and regulatory frameworks in support of sustainable development and management of aquaculture at all levels.

However, in some of the countries that have made conducive policies, implementation is delayed by the lack of financial and skilled human resources. Policies and regulations may be enacted, but unless there are sufficient government personnel with adequate skills and financial resources to monitor and enforce them, they will remain ineffective. Almost all countries in the region now require licensing to practice aquaculture. All commercial aquaculture establishments must undertake Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) or Initial Environmental Examinations (IEEs) and register with the authorities before starting to farm. As aquaculture governance has improved and production increased in the region, many products have found markets internationally.

Whilst regulations have been created or tightened, the most important development has been the increasing uptake of Best Management Practices (BMPs), codes of conduct or practices, and certification schemes. Certification is a voluntary process by which suppliers demonstrate environmental protection, responsible sourcing and production practices that minimise impacts and comply with national legislation.


Aquaculture’s share of the global turbot production will continue to dominate over supply from fisheries4. As Chinese farmed turbot production feeds its own domestic market, future supplies of farmed turbot to the UK are likely to be from European producers.

Turbot has been identified as one of the most promising species for marine aquaculture in Europe, but it has not expanded at the same rate as other farmed species. High production costs and low fillet yield, in relation to the price consumers are willing to pay, may have contributed to this situation. Currently, turbot is a luxury product with demand sensitive to overall economic activity, e.g. demand is reduced in some markets during periods of recession. Prospects for growth are to a great extent determined by price but also by the development of broader household demand4. In order for turbot to increase its production and availability, production costs will need to be reduced through new technology and better knowledge of turbot life history, coupled with consumer education, new product development and product promotion5 as well as the development of export markets4.


  1. FAO
  2. FAO
  3. FAO
  4. Bjørndal & Øiestad