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EU Aquaculture Assistance Mechanism

Background information

Type of species farmed (Source: 2021, Danish Statistics, Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries) 

Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), brown trout (Salmo trutta fario), sea trout (Salmo trutta trutta), brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), Artic char (S. alpinus), (S. alpinus x S. fontinalis), blue mussel (Mytilus spp.), European eel (Anguilla anguilla), pikeperch (Sander lucioperca), Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), Kingfish (Seriola lalandi), yellowtail amberjack (S. dumerili), Sturgeon species (Acipenseridae), sunshine bass (Morone saxatilis x M. chrysops), perch (Perca fluviatilis), sugar kelp (Saccharina latissima). 

Type of production method (Source: 2023, EUMOFA) 

According to Eurostat, in 2021, around 48% of Danish production occurred in freshwater and the rest in marine waters. The following main production methods were used:  

  • 42% of production: in recirculation systems, mostly in freshwater (37%) and a small percentage in sea and brackish water (5%). 
  • 23% of the production: in cages in sea and brackish water 
  • 19,5% of the production: off-bottom. 
  • The rest was farmed in ponds (8%), tanks and raceways (2,5%) and with other methods for wich no detail is available (5%) 

Sector’s size (production and consumption) (Source: 2023, EUMOFA) 

  • Production (2021): 35.639 Tn; 107.805 thousand €  
  • Consumption (2021): 20-25 Kg per capita (according to the University of Copenhagen). 

Trends (past and future) (Source: MNSPA) 

  • Continue the sustainable growth of aquaculture production. 
  • Increasing recirculating aquaculture system. 
  • Increasing low-trophic aquaculture production (e.g., mussels and algae). 
  • Strengthen organic aquaculture production. 
  • Reducing the nutrient and organic matter emissions to the aquatic environment in relation to the quantity of fish produced. The improvement in the sector’s environmental and resource efficiency has been driven by developments in, inter alia, environmental technologies, including water purification technology, and feed optimisation. 
  • Reducing the climate impact of aquaculture. 
  • Development and innovation in areas such as prevention and treatment of fish diseases, effective vaccines, organic production, circular economies (e.g., fish manure), as well as economic analyses (employment, profitability, management models, etc.) are still needed.

Impact of aquaculture in the country’s economy, food market and labour market (Source: MNSPA) 

  • Long tradition of aquaculture. Particularly in trout farming, where Denmark is among the EU’s largest producers. 
  • Aquaculture farmers produce everything from fish eggs and fish to mussels and seaweed. In addition, there is a major downstream industry, including the production of fish feed and water purification technology in land-based fish farming facilities. 
  • In addition to primary production, the Danish aquaculture sector consists of companies producing fish feed, technology and equipment for the aquaculture sector worldwide. The export value of technology and equipment is estimated by the sector to have reached DKK 5-6 billion per year in 2021.

Challenges and opportunities (Source: MNSPA) 


  • Shortage of skilled labour for modern, high-tech facilities and the technology industry, and a lack of training opportunities for staff and managers. 
  • The limited focus so far on animal welfare and measures to help ensure that fish thrive in the different types of farming facilities. 
  • Currently it is challenging to compile data on the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions, which makes it difficult to quantify emissions. 
  • EU’s organic production rules, which severely limit the use of environmental technologies. EU organic rules include limits on recirculation of water and permitted levels of closure in the system. 
  • Higher production costs and conversion costs to organic aquaculture. 
  • There is also a need to improve consumer knowledge of organic aquaculture, mainly due to the relatively low level of production. 


  • One of the main strengths of the sector is that production takes place at a high level of skills and knowledge, helping to ensure high quality and food safety.  
  • Another strength is the geographical proximity to the EU market, which the sector, with its good logistics system, can make full use of. 
  • The Danish aquaculture sector is a leader in the development and production of recirculation technology. Denmark’s current position is among the leaders in modern facilities using water purification and recirculation technology. Denmark is globally recognised for this. 
  • The growing demand for fish (including farmed fish), shellfish and seaweed. In particular, increased use of new technologies, such as purification technology and new production methods. 
  • Development of commercial seaweed production. 
  • Grow new markets and new uses for seaweed production, for example for medicines. 
  • An increased focus on the welfare of farmed fish will be a competitive advantage for the sector and will help to make farmed fish more attractive to consumers. 
  • Certification of farmed fish in relation to the climate footprint could help to make the consumer more aware of the sustainability of aquaculture.

Employment and number of enterprises (Source: MNSPA) 

According to the latest figures for 2020, the Danish aquaculture sector consists of 244 active installations, of which 179 are located on land, while there are 19 marine farms and 46 shellfish farming facilities.

MNSP to develop sustainable aquaculture

Published National Strategic Plan on Aquaculture: Strategy for a Sustainable Aquaculture sector 2021-2027 (in Danish)

Summary in English of the "Published National Strategic Plan on Aquaculture": Strategy for a sustainable aquaculture sector 2021-2027

Applicable Legislation

The most relevant legislation for both land-based and marine fish farming: 

  • The Danish Environmental Protection Act 
  • The Statutory Order on Environmental Approval Listed Enterprises  
  • The Environmental Assessment Act 
  • The Environmental Objectives Act 
  • Water Planning Act 
  • The Statutory Order  
  • Order on requirements for the discharge of certain pollutants into watercourses, lakes, transitional waters, coastal waters and marine waters 
  • Habitat Statutory Order 
  • The Monitoring Order 
  • Decree on the authorisation and operation of aquaculture farms and on the placing on the market of aquatic organisms and their products  

The most relevant legislation for marine fish farming: 

  • Order on the use if the feed types in saltwater-based fish farming 
  • The Danish Maritime Spatial Plan 
  • Order on the establishment and operation of sea farms 
  • The Fisheries Act 
  • Marine Strategy Act 
  • The N Phasing-in Statutory Order 

The most relevant legislation for Land-based fish farming: 

  • Ordinance on environmental approval and simultaneous processing of freshwater dams 
  • Decree-Law on Planning 
  • Waste Water Statutory Order 

The most relevant legislation for marine shellfish farming: 

  • The Fisheries Act 
  • Decree on the farming of mussels and oysters in the water column 
  • Order on the culture of mussels and oysters  

Applicable Procedures

Marine farms: 

  • Marine fish farms need to apply for an environmental authorization at the Environmental Protection Agency.  
  • Marine shellfish farms need to apply for a placement authorisation at the Fisheries Agency. 
  • Land-based fish farms: 
  • Land-based fish farmers need to apply for an environmental and placement authorisation at the relevant municipality  

National associations and networks

  • Dansk Akvakultur 
  • Danmarks Naturfredningsforening (The Danish society for Nature Conservation) 
  • Danmarks Sportfiskerforbund 
  • Foreningen Netværk for Økologisk Akvakultur  

Contact Details

Name and surname: Elisabeth Bækgaard 

Position held and name of the organisation: Clerk at the Danish Ministry for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries. 

Email address:  

Telephone number: +45 20 36 07 65 


Summary in English of the "Published National Strategic Plan on Aquaculture" for Denmark
(443.43 KB - PDF)