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EU Aquaculture Assistance Mechanism

Background information

Type of species farmed (Source: 2023, EUMOFA; 2022, STECF; Munich State Zoological Collection, ZSM; Germany, personal com., January 30, 2023) 

Mussel (Mytilus spp.), oyster (Ostrea edulis), Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), Artic char (Salvelinus cf Umbla) (Source: ZSM), Common carp (Cyprinus carpio). Further: African and European catfish and high value species like eel, sturgeon, crustaceans and pike perch are produced in recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS)

Type of production method (Source: 2023, EUMOFA & MNSPA) 

According to Eurostat, in 2021, 25% of German production occurred in sea and freshwater, and most of the marine production includes on-bottom mussel farming in sea. (2023, EUMOFA). 

Aquaculture in Germany stretches from semi-natural, extensively managed earthen pond to flow-through facilities, net cages, and closed recirc-systems. In the marine environment, mussel farming is also part of aquaculture. 

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

  • Production (2021): 32.586 Tn; 147.518 thousand €  
  • Consumption of fishery and aquaculture products (2021): 12,51 kg per capita 
  • % Variation in consumption 2020/201920: -2%

Trends (past and future) (Source: MNSPA) 

  • Maintaining, stabilising and developing existing aquaculture production capacity. 
  • Increasing the production of fishes and other aquaculture in sustainable production (“environment-friendly growth”) 
  • Preservation of pond areas and return to farming abandoned ponds as a special form of aquaculture with its typical extensive-farming method and its dual function for livestock and the common good (nature conservation, landscape, water balance) 
  • Increasing the image of domestic aquaculture products and strengthening regional marketing 
  • Adapting aquaculture to climate change and increasing resilience. 

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

  • With a few exceptions, aquaculture in Germany is characterised by a long period of stagnation. Barriers to growth include, in particular, compliance with the legal framework, burdensome licensing practices, low competitiveness on the global scale, and losses to stocks due to predators and protected animals. In addition, there are problems with the image of aquaculture products, as well as shortcomings in training and research structures. 
  • In Germany, aquaculture farms are predominantly family-owned and have a very small-scale structure (with some exceptions in marine mussel aquaculture). More recently, companies producing algae or other aquatic organisms also occupy the field of aquaculture or transitional areas for organic technology. 
  • In Germany, carp is raised in ponds of approximately 23,000ha. The main production areas are in Bavaria, Saxony and Brandenburg. There are very different farm structures and intensity levels. The quantity of carp produced continues to decrease slightly. 
  • Salmonid production: This form of fish production, alongside the shellfish culture industry, is the largest profitable aquaculture sector in Germany, which currently has a significant economic strength. 
  • The production of fish in net cages has stagnated for years. Overall, net cages it is of minor importance in Germany at present. 
  • Successfully recirculating facilities in Germany have been in place e.g., for eels and African catfish. The largest installations have so far reached a production of some hundred tonnes per year.  
  • Only the shellfish culture sector has increased sharply for years. In particular in Schleswig-Holstein, the development of the mussel industry is stabilising the development of the cultivation of mussels. The cultivation of seed mussels with Smartfarm-Systems is a key driver. 
  • Marine finfish aquaculture is practically non-existent in Germany.  
  • Algae production: In Germany, a food authorisation exists for the individual green algae Chlorella sp. and for the fasted cyanobacterium Spirulina sp. In case of macroalgae, brown algae (Saccharina latissima), green algae (Enteromorpha/Ulva) and red algae (Delesseria sanguinea) are mainly cultivated. The respective German production volumes are not known but are likely to be marginal. 
  • Consumers are increasingly demanding regional products. Imports will continue to be necessary, but domestic aquaculture could provide more than hitherto to meet its own needs. 
  • Germany imports around 89 % of consumed fishes and sea food. 
  • The exact number of officially ‘bio-certified’ aquaculture enterprises in Germany is unknown, as the official statistics only include farms above a certain size or-volume of production. There are several small regional labels (QZBW, Schwarzwaldforelle, Fisch aus NRW, etc.) that are somewhat more popular than organic labels because they are cheaper and less elaborate.

Challenges and opportunities (Source: MNSPA) 


  • Preventing the loss of significance of pond farming.  
  • Predator management is currently one of the most pressing problems for pond farming. 
  • Simplification of the administrative procedures. 
  • Climate change. 
  • Improving the spatial planning. 
  • There is still too little knowledge on the possibilities for funding and on funding availabilities. The ‘support landscape’ is highly fragmented, as in each Land there are other funding instruments and not all federal states use EMFAF European funds. The bureaucratic hurdles are “insurmountable” for small family members in particular.


  • The conservation of carp ponds as a particularly sustainable form of aquaculture is an important objective, not least in order to preserve the cultural landscape and the habitats that have arisen and the biodiversity in and on the water. The development potential of pond farming lies less in increasing production, but more in maintaining the cultivated landscape the “resulting habitats” and ecosystem services while maintaining the current extensive production level. Through joint marketing initiatives (by the region for the region, protected geographical indication, Farm to Fork Strategy), other market opportunities can be opened up, for example, through certification (organic farming, protected geographical development, etc.), new product variants or bundling of products, or a combination of these measures. A great potential for pond farming is its involvement in the development and development of regional tourism and also for education. 
  • The further development of recirculation systems in dimensions capable of partially replacing fish imports from capture marine fisheries and global aquaculture at wholesale level is also conceivable. 
  • In the freshwater fisheries sector, the generally good sales opportunities for fish products from German aquaculture have not yet been exhausted. In order to make better use of this potential in global competition, consumers need to be better informed about quality, freshness and regionality, as well as environmental and social sustainability as criteria for purchasing decisions. 
  • The propagation and rearing of crabs, in this case freshwater crayfish, noble crayfish (e.g., Astacus astacus) is now a niche production in Germany.  
  • Salmonid production: A moderate increase in production would be possible given the good demand for high quality salmonids produced in the region. In view of the restrictions on pond production (water rights, environmental requirements), the development and inclusion of recirc-technology should be advanced it in a way that incorporates circular technology (in this case: partially recirculating systems, cold water). 
  • Recirculation systems: In the context of climate change, recirculation technology also offers great advantages, such as site independence, in terms of water supply, low water demand, combination with renewable energy, allowing decarbonisation and thus improving-the CO2 balance. In addition, the use of this technology broadens the range of products (cultures species) available, thus contributing to the diversification of the German fish market, while at the same time enabling regional circular economies in the context of competitiveness. 
  • Mussel farming: Net removal of nutrients (organic matter-output), e.g. extractive aquaculture, therefore combined with fish farming facilities to balance the nutrient balance (use in integrated multitrophic plants), so that, if necessary, additional source of added value can be created; possibly also as a stand-alone measure to improve water quality by removing materials with added value for society as a whole. 
  • Implementation of a consistent, broad-based research strategy . 
  • Improving the organic concept in the rural population and distinguish with regionality concept. 
  • Diversification within the aquaculture sector, in particular involving other sectors of the local economy, can foster the growth and profitability of aquaculture underneath and create jobs in-mostly structurally weak rural areas. Local development plans for fisheries areas are a particularly suitable instrument to present the concrete opportunities and develop appropriate support possibilities.

Employment and number of enterprises (Source: 2022, STECF)

Around 2 400 farms (> 0.3 ha or 200 m²) cultivate fish and seafood in Germany in fresh and marine waters. In total, around 1 800 people are employed at aquaculture facilities and it is assumed that an additional workforce of around 3 200 unpaid owners and family members are engaged here.

MNSP to develop sustainable aquaculture

Published National Strategic Plan on Aquaculture: Nationaler Strategieplan Aquakultur NASTAQ 2021-2030 für Deutschland (in German) 

Summary in English of the "Published National Strategic Plan on Aquaculture": National Strategic Plan Aquakultur NASTAQ 2021-2030 for Germany

Relevant Authorities

Applicable Legislation

Applicable Procedures

Accordingly, aquaculture permits in the Federal Republic of Germany, depending on the situation, often cannot be carried out by a single authority (the ‘one-stop shop’ scheme). On the contrary, the project promoter often has to contact several authorities in order to obtain the various authorisations for the construction and operation of the plant (no or at least no complete concentration decision) 

Inland aquaculture approval procedure: 

  • Construction permit 
  • Water-law approval drainage 
  • Environmental impact assessment (EIA): no EIA obligation up to 50 t/a; > 1000 t/a EIA obligation 
  • Depending on the size of the project, a general or site-specific preliminary examination of the individual case is sufficient (for recirculation systems as a general rule, only, if necessary, as part of the building permit): 50-100 t/a general examination of the individual case; 100-1000 t/a on-site preliminary examination of the individual case 
  • Biotope protection reports 
  • Species protection reports 
  • Nature conservation measures 
  • Technical contribution under water legislation (covers issues relating to the transformation of the EU WFD)  

Coastal aquaculture authorization procedure (excluding Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of a State). These Procedures relate to the German Baltic coast (this does not exclude aquaculture that may need to be developed in the EEZ of the German North Sea): 

  • Electricity and shipping transport 
  • Purification of fisheries legislation 
  • Approval under water law 
  • Protection permit for coasts under water legislation 
  • Fish disease permit 
  • Designation of a shell production area 
  • Introduction and husbandry of alien and alien species 
  • FFH Impact Study 
  • Biotope protection reports 
  • Species protection reports 
  • Intrusion check, possibly an approval of action 
  • water legislation in the event of submission (only if no specific permanent permit under water law is required) — covers issues relating to the implementation of the EU WFD and EU MSFD.

Relevant Websites

Contact Details

Name and surname: Prof. Dr. Reinhold Hanel 

Position held and name of the organisation: Director, Thünen Institute of Fisheries Ecology 

Email address:  

Telephone number: +49 471 94460 200 


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