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EU Aquaculture Assistance Mechanism

Background information

Type of species farmed (Source: 2021, Aquaculture data collection Reg. 762/2008) 

Mediterranean mussel (Mytilus galloprovinvialis), Manila clam (Ruditapes philippinarum), Pacific cupped oyster (Crassostrea gigas), Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), Salmonids (several species), Gilthead seabram (Sparus aurata), European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax), Meagre (Argyrosomus regius), Carps (several species), Sturgeons (several species), European eel (Anguilla anguilla), cat fishes (Ameiurus melas, A. punctatus). 

Type of production method (Source: 2021, Aquaculture data collection Reg. 762/2008) 

In 2021, 69,7% of Italian production occurred in sea and brackish water and 30,3% in freshwater. The following main production methods were used: 

  • Sea and brackish water: 61,6% off-bottom; 22,3% on-bottom; 9,8% in floating cages; 5% in tanks; 1,3% in enclosures (extensive aquaculture in coastal lagoons). 
  • Freshwater: 10% in ponds; 90% in tanks. 

Sector’s size (production and consumption) (Source: 2021, Aquaculture data collection Reg. 762/2008; 2023, EUMOFA) 

  • Production: 146.032,10 tonnes; 547.447 thousand € (2021, Aquaculture data collection Reg. 762/2008) 
  • Consumption of fishery and aquaculture products (2021): 30,15 Kg per capita (2023, EUMOFA) 
  • % Variation in consumption 2021/2020: +0,4% 

Trends (past and future) (Source: NSPA 2021-2027) 

The NSPA 2021-2027 (National Strategic Plan for Aquaculture 2021-2027) identified 8 priorities and 4 main objectives (MO) for the development of the Italian aquaculture according to the European strategies “Green Deal”, “Farm to Fork”, “Biodiversity”, and to the “Strategic guidelines for a more sustainable and competitive EU aquaculture for the period 2021 to 2030” (COM (2021) 236 final). 

The priorities identified by the Italian Administration are: 1) biodiversity preservation; 2) coordinated marine spatial planning; 3) animal health and welfare; 4) scientific research and digitalization; 5) consumer awareness and social acceptability; 6) strengthening the strategic role of regional administrations; 7) community-led local development; 8) international cooperation. 

The four main objectives to be achieved: 1) MO1 “Strengthening institutional capacity and simplifying administrative procedures”; 2) MO2 “Ensuring the development and sustainable growth of aquaculture through coordinated spatial planning and increasing site potential”; 3) MO3 “Promoting the competitiveness of aquaculture production”; 4) MO4 “Promoting a level playing field for operators and improving the organisation of the market for aquaculture products”. 

Impact of aquaculture in the country’s economy, food market and labour market (Source: NSPA 2021-2027)

  • According to EUROSTAT (2020), in 2019 Italy accounted for 11,3 % of the EU aquaculture production volume, ranking fourth after Spain, France, and Greece.  
  • According to the latest data available, in 2018 aquaculture contracted by -3 % in total income. Operating costs increased by + 10 %, as did the cost of manpower. This led to a -11 % decrease in the Gross Value Added (GVA). In the course of 2018, almost all Italian regions launched most of the calls for aid from the European Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) relating to measure 2.48 — Productive investments in aquaculture. This showed the sector’s willingness to work mainly on vertical integration, investing in transformation activities, but also in new forms of marketing and value chain integration. 
  • In Italy, aquaculture production, which is dominated by a restricted number of species, such as mussel, manila clam, rainbow trout, sea bass and sea bream, is practised in a variety of different environments with varying degrees of technological progress and it is characterised by farming practices strongly linked to local traditions, such as “vallicoltura” and shellfish farming in lagoon environments. 
  • The lack of diversification in production is recognised as one of the causes for the sector’s overall fragility, due to increased internal commercial competition from and to increasing import of unrepresented or under-represented products. 
  • The production of eggs for human consumption is also of great importance in Italy. Sturgeon eggs (caviar), salmonid eggs, and mullet eggs (roe). 
  • Consumption of organic aquaculture products is extremely limited because of the lack of information on products and production processes, the lack of supply of organically certified juveniles, and high certification costs. 

Challenges and opportunities (Source: NSPA 2021-2027) 


  • Need to have standard and simplified procedures for aquaculture. 
  • Increasing competitiveness of national products on international markets. 
  • Reducing the negative impacts on biodiversity by limiting the risks of escapement; coastal eutrophication and consequent changes in the structure of natural communities; disease transmission from farmed to wild animals; the introduction of alien species; the destruction of valuable natural habitats for the development of aquaculture activities.  
  • Improving spatial planning and land-use management with respect to coastlines and wetlands to reduce conflicts among different activities carried out along the coast. 
  • Improving measures to support an increasingly responsible use of veterinary medicines, including research for functional ingredients to be implemented in feeds and the development of effective and innovative tools for diagnosing, preventing, and treating fish diseases. 
  • Promoting scientific research and digitalisation through the dissemination of scientific and technical knowledge, innovative practices, and networking, as well as the exchange of experience and good practices between companies, professional organisations and other stakeholders, including scientific and technical bodies.  
  • Improving communication to the consumer with a view to enhancing the social acceptability of aquaculture. Promoting dialogue with stakeholders in order to increase their awareness of the benefits of process and product certification. 
  • Community-Led Local Development — CLLD: Fisheries Local Action Groups (hereinafter FLAGs) will have a central role in promoting local and regional aquaculture development. 
  • Stimulating actions to improve aquaculture profitability and consequently increase employment. . 


  • Opening new facilities while, at the same time, continuing to modernise existing ones by improving their environmental and financial sustainability in terms of production performance and energy efficiency. 
  • Preserving healthy and productive aquatic ecosystems. 
  • Investing in staff professional training and development as well as in lifelong learning. 
  • Increasing sustainable and low-impact practices, with priority being given, for example, to low-trophic and multi-trophic aquaculture, algae farming, and organic aquaculture. 
  • Introducing new farmed species. 
  • Supporting product differentiation to increase added value. 
  • Developing new affordable and user-friendly digital tools (hardware and/or software) to ensure product traceability and farm management. 
  • Setting up specialised scientific research institutes and developing synergies between research and businesses to build and disseminate sustainable aquaculture models. 
  • Identifying potential sources of nutraceutical and functional substances for food, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, green decontamination enzymes, biodegradable materials, etc. 
  • Stimulating the supply of certified local products through designations of origin.

Employment and number of enterprises (Source: NSPA 2021-2027) 

504 enterprises in 2021 (679 active plants); total employment in the sector in 2017 was 4,488. 

MNSP to develop sustainable aquaculture

Published National Strategic Plan on Aquaculture: National Strategic Plan for Aquaculture 2021-2027 (In Italian)

Summary in English of the "Published National Strategic Plan on Aquaculture": Strategic Aquaculture National Plan 2021-2027

Relevant Authorities

Applicable Procedures

Environmental impact assessment (EIA) (Legislative Decree n.152/2006, recently amended by Legislative Decree n. 104/2017, which transposes Directive 2014/52/EU on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of certain public and private projects)

National associations and networks

  • Italian Fish Farmers Association (API
  • Mediterranean Farmers Association (AMA

Relevant Websites

Contact Details

Name and surname: Irene Forcella 

Position held and name of the organisation: Officer, Ministry of Agriculture, Food Sovereignty, and Forestry (DG Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture) 

Email address: 

Telephone number: +39 06 4665 2882 


Name and surname: Ilaria Ferraro 

Position held and name of the organisation: Expert, Ministry of Agriculture, Food Sovereignty, and Forestry  (DG Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture) 

Email address: 

Telephone number: +39 06 4665 2822 



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