Fisheries and aquaculture

At European level, both fisheries and aquaculture policy are conducted under the umbrella of the Common Fisheries Policy. In 2019, global aquatic production (both freshwater and saltwater organisms from wild capture and aquaculture) amounted to 213.7 million tonnes. Aquaculture accounted for 120.1 million tonnes (56.2%). With an annual growth rate of 6.8% in production volume, the aquaculture sector is the fastest growing food production sector (FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Information and Statistics Service 2021). However, at the level of the European Union, mariculture production has been stagnating for two decades (~1 million tonnes). Late 2020, a commercial company acquired a user and environmental permit to develop a sea farm on a commercial scale in the Belgian part of the North Sea at 5 km off the coast of Nieuwpoort and Koksijde. In total, this sea farm can cover an area of up to 4,5 km2.

The total production of marine fishery products (excluding marine mammals and aquatic plants) in 2019 amounted to 112.2 million tonnes (of which 80.4 million tonnes was wild catch). The EU accounts for 5.7 million tonnes (5.1%). The commercial supply of sea fish by the Belgian fishing fleet has fluctuated between 19,000 and 27,000 tonnes since 2000 (Flemish agriculture and fisheries in figures). In addition to commercial fishing, marine recreational fishing also takes place from the sea and from the beach.

The zones in which the activities mentioned above are permitted are defined by the Marine Spatial Plan (MSP, Royal Decree of 22 May 2019, see also Verhalle en Van de Velde 2020).

More information on

Commercial sea fisheries
Recreational sea fisheries
Marine aquaculture