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EU Aquaculture Assistance Mechanism


Background information

Type of species farmed (Source: 2023, EUMOFA; 2022, STECF) 

Turbot (Scophthalmus maximus), clam, oyster, gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata), European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax) and sole (Solea senegalensis). 

Type of production method (Source: 2023, EUMOFA) 

In 2021, 99% of Portuguese production occurred in sea and brackish waters and 1% in freshwater. The following main production methods were used: 

  • 26% of production: off bottom in marine and brackish waters, 
  • 21% of production: in tanks and raceways in marine and brackish waters,  
  • 20% of production: on bottom in marine and brackish waters.  
  • 20% of production: in ponds in sea and brackish waters. 
  • 17% of production: in cages in marine and brackish waters and a slight portion in freshwater. 
  • 16% of production: in cages in sea and brackish water and a slight portion in freshwater (1,4%) 

Sector’s size (production and consumption) (2020, EUMOFA) 

  • Production: 17.561Tn; 157.975 thousand €  
  • Consumption of fishery and aquaculture products (2021): 56,52 Kg per capita 
  • % Variation in consumption 2021/2020: -2% 

Trends (past and future) (Source: MNSPA) 

  • Diversification in aquaculture products and adaptation to consumer preferences. 
  • To increase and diversify the supply of national aquaculture products, based on based on principles of environmental sustainability, social cohesion, animal welfare quality and food safety. 

Impact of aquaculture in the country’s economy, food market and labour market

The strategic approach to be adopted will support the development of a smart and environmentally friendly aquaculture that will be capable of competing globally and providing safe products with high nutritional value to EU consumers.

Challenges and opportunities (Source: MNSPA) 


  • Strong international competition. 
  • Rising production costs, in particular energy and feed having an impact on international competitiveness. 
  • Strong demographic occupation of the coastline with conflict of interest in areas with aquaculture potential. 
  • Probability of outbreaks of pollution or sporadic reduction of water quality. 
  • Financing difficulties arising from precautionary assessments of financial entities. 
  • The operationalisation of simpler and more effective rules and procedures that frame investments in the sector and reduce context costs. 
  • The proper implementation of the Plan for Aquaculture in Transitional Waters (PAqAT) and the Maritime Spatial Planning Situation Plan (PSOEM), which promote the establishment of aquaculture establishments and the development of the activity in line with the preservation of the environment. 
  • Simplify, reduce the time and administrative procedures required for obtaining permits, making the process less time-consuming and more transparent. 


  • A high market potential. 
  • Increasing national aquaculture production taking into account the availability of appropriate water resources and the dominance of production technologies. 
  • Potential for setting up new establishments on the basis of both Maritime Spatial and Transitional Waters Planning Plans. 
  • Progressive development of cutting-edge technologies for aquaculture in offshore areas, at the level of production of new species and optimisation of feed. 
  • The growing interest of the industry in the processing of aquaculture products. 
  • Existence of a national and European market with a high deficit in fishery products and an increasing appetite for the consumption of aquaculture products. 
  • Appetite for certified products, in particular organic or multitrophic production or by geographical area (PDO, DOC, IGT), using tourism growth as a vehicle for promoting and exporting national production. 
  • Insertion in one space economic technologically developed and with the potential for innovation and exploitation of human resources. 
  • Possibility of combining aquaculture production with carbon sequestration and removal of inorganic nutrients by diversifying the production of marine plant resources or shellfish crops. 
  • Possibility of including high-value species of low trophic levels in polyculture (e.g., sea cucumber, polychaetes, bivalves), making systems profitable, valuing resources and allowing increased sales in value, without significant technological change, in addition to reducing maintenance costs. 
  • Possibility of developing new products of origin marine for several industries (e.g. food, pharmaceuticals), extending to chain of value, reducing waste, promoting the innovation and promoting new models for business purposes based on a circular bioeconomy. 
  • Improving the image of aquaculture products among consumers. 
  • Increasing the degree of associationism to reduce costs.

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

721 enterprises and 1262 employees in 2020

MNSP to develop sustainable aquaculture

Published National Strategic Plan on Aquaculture: Plano Estratègico para a Aquicultura Portuguesa 2021-2030 (in Portuguese)

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

Relevant Authorities

  • Directorate-General for Natural Resources, Safety and Maritime Services (DGRM
  • Nature Conservation and Forests (ICNF

Contact Details

Name and surname: José Carlos Simão 

Position heald and name of the organisation: General Director of DGRM 

Email address:  

Telephone number: +351 21 303 5886 


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