New guidelines for Natura 2000 protection

12 Dec 2012

The European Commission is issuing new guidelines to improve understanding of how aquaculture can be carried out inside Natura 2000, the EU-wide network of protected natural areas.

The guidelines explain how best to ensure that activities related to aquaculture are compatible with EU nature legislation and Natura 2000 provisions in particular.

Janez Potočnik, European commissioner for the Environment, described the document as "a useful tool to increase understanding between economic operators, public authorities, site managers and nature conservation bodies. It will enable them to design sustainable aquaculture projects that meet their production objectives while respecting the ecological values of the Natura 2000 areas."

The guidelines, Guidance on Aquaculture and Natura 2000 -Sustainable aquaculture activities in the context of the Natura 2000 Network, present the policy context of aquaculture development and biodiversity conservation in Europe. They review the potential impacts of the main aquaculture systems on nature and wildlife with special focus on the methods and tools to assess them in the light of the conservation objectives of the sites. The guidelines explain how these risks should be assessed on a case-by-case basis and how they can best be minimised or avoided altogether.

A number of case studies are presented, with examples of good practice showing how sustainable aquaculture development can be compatible with nature protection or enhance it by providing suitable habitats for which many sites have been designated. The guidelines stress the benefits of strategic planning, whereby nature conservation requirements and aquaculture development needs are taken into consideration in an integrated manner at an early stage of the planning process. The document provides a step-by-step guide to the required assessment procedures with relevant examples and practical recommendations.

The full guidelines can be found here.


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