Marine aquaculture in the Netherlands consists of extensive culture of mussels and oysters, predominantly carried out on the bottom of leased grounds. These grounds, or so-called “plots”, are located in the Wadden Sea and in the Dutch delta area. There is at present no culture of marine fish in Dutch coastal waters. Only one company operates a land-based turbot farm. The inland aquaculture sector is small but growing. Inland aquaculture generally takes place in closed recirculation systems with eel and African catfish being the main cultivated species.
The Fisheries Act (1963, as amended) (Visserijwet) contains the basic framework for the regulation of marine and inland fisheries. Although the act does not specifically regulate aquaculture, it allows the Minister to further regulate the farming or processing of and trade in fish for purposes of prevention or eradication of fish diseases. The Regulation on Aquaculture (1993, as amended) (Regeling Aquicultuur), issued under the act, contains detailed requirements on the farming and processing of and trade in aquaculture animals and products. Also relevant to the sector is the Animal Health and Welfare Act (1992) (Gezondheids- en welzijnswet voor Dieren). The Decree on the indication of animals that may be kept for production purposes (1998) (Besluit aanwijzing voor productie te houden dieren), issued under this act, lists the fish and shellfish that may be kept for production purposes in the Netherlands. Whereas shellfish is cultured in an extensive way, i.e. without addition of feed, chemicals or veterinary drugs, regulation of these issues is at present not considered a priority area in the Netherlands. Regulatory issues mainly focus on resource allocation between fisheries and nature conservation and on the quality control of shellfish.
Overall responsibility for the development and management of the fisheries sector, including aquaculture, rests with the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (Landbouw, Natuur en Voedselkwaliteit or LNV). Within the Ministry of LNV, the Fisheries Directorate is responsible for policy issues and the translation of EU regulations into national legislation. The recently created Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (Voedsel en Warenautoriteit or VWA), being an independent agency in the Ministry of LNV, is responsible for, inter alia, the inspection and supervision of aquaculture products, animal health and animal welfare. Research is carried out by a number of institutions, including the Netherlands Institute for Fisheries Investigations (Rijksinstituut voor Visserijonderzoek or RIVO), which is part of LNV. The Fisheries Directorate, in conjunction with the industry, steers the management and research task of RIVO. In 2003, the Ministry established the Innovation Platform Aquaculture. Different parties, such as the government, science and research institutions and the sector itself, contribute to this Platform where new initiatives and improvements are discussed leading to a sustainable development of the sector.
The Dutch fishing industry is well-organized and based on a system of co-management. Fisher folk, fish and shellfish farmers, fish processors, whole-salers and retailers all have their own interest organization. Together they are united in the Fish Product Board (Produktschap Vis), which is a statutory organization responsible for promoting and managing the interests of the fisheries sector, including aquaculture. The Board is headed by an executive committee. The members of this body are not elected. Instead, they are nominated by business associations and trade unions in the fisheries sector. The chairman of the Board is appointed by the Crown. The Board’s work is co-ordinated by various committees. The Board gathers information, informs the public, gives advice to the Government, and can adopt decrees, which are binding for the entire sector, on a wide range of issues. Since the Board exercises a great deal of influence as an administrative body under public law, it is subject to close supervision, not only by the Ministry, but also by the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands (Sociaal Economische Raad or SER). In 2001, the Board published a Policy Note on Aquaculture (Beleidsnota Viskweek), which contains the Board’s view on the development of the Dutch aquaculture sector.
The Netherlands is a member of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). Relevant to the aquaculture sector is the ICES Code of Practice on the Introductions and Transfers of Marine Organisms . This Code sets forth recommended procedures and practices to diminish the risks of detrimental effects from the intentional introduction and transfer of marine (including brackishwater) organisms. It applies to public (commercial and governmental), private, and scientific interests including introductions into closed containment. ICES member countries contemplating new introductions are requested to present to the ICES Council a detailed prospectus on the rationale and plan for any new introduction of a marine (brackish) species. The contents of the prospectus are detailed in Appendix A to the Code. If any introduction or transfer proceeds following approval, ICES requests member countries to keep the Council informed about it.
The Netherlands is also a party to the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR Convention), which has direct implications for marine aquaculture. Under the Convention, the Paris Commission (PARCOM) issued Recommendation 94/6 on Best Environmental Practice (BEP) for the Reduction of Inputs of Potentially Toxic Chemicals from Aquaculture .
Finally, the Netherlands is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and a party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). It ratified both the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Bio safety Protocol.
There are no specific authorizations required to engage in and set up an inland aquaculture farm. However, generally each business in the Netherlands must have a number of permits to be allowed to conduct its activities. The Dutch system of permits, defined by various laws and controlled by different ministries, is elaborate and complex. The permits mainly deal with environmental protection and are prescribed in different environmental laws (see below). In addition, the setting up of a farm should stroke with land use planning regulations.
Lack of space is a major problem in the Netherlands. The most important legislative basis for land use planning is the Spatial Planning Act (1965, as amended) (Wet op de Ruimtelijke Ordening), administered by the Ministry of Public Health, Spatial Planning and Environmental Affairs (Ministerie van Volkshuisvesting, Ruimtelijke Ordening en Milieubeheer or VROM). This is a framework act, which delegates tasks to the national government, to the provinces and to the municipalities. According to the act, each administrative level has to make a spatial planning framework, but only the municipal land use plan (bestemmingsplan) is directly legally binding. The municipal land use plan has to be approved by the provincial executive, while the national government has corrective powers, too. The plan sets out specifically how land is to be used and developed. All activities, which have a spatial component such as recreation, housing, nature conservation and industry, have to be regulated in the municipal land use plan, and every building initiative has to pass this plan.
Also having implications for aquaculture operations, in particular for the mussel spat collection from wild stocks, is the selection of nature conservation areas. In the Netherlands, some of these areas are permanently closed to shellfish spat fisheries. In addition, stock assessments are generally carried out by the RIVO prior to the mussel spat collection in spring and autumn to estimate the availability of mussels for relaying but also in relation to feed requirements for protected bird populations. In years of scarcity, inter-tidal areas can be closed to harvesting in addition to the permanently closed areas. Generally, nature conservation areas are protected under various EU Directives including Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora (Habitats Directive). This Directive provides for the establishment of Special Areas for Conservation (SACs), which are protected sites for certain natural habitats and listed species of flora and fauna. Special Protected Areas (SPAs) are another group of sites which are protected in order to comply with Council Directive 79/409/EEC on the conservation of wild birds (Wild Birds Directive). This Directive provides for the protection of listed rare/vulnerable species and regularly occurring migratory birds. In providing this protection, the Directive also provides protection for the habitats of these birds, which are designated as SPAs. In the Netherlands, the Habitats Directive and the Wild Birds Directive are partly implemented by the Flora and Fauna Act (1998) (Flora and faunawet) (with regard to the conservation of species) and partly by the Nature Protection Act (1998) (Natuurbeschermingswet) (with regard to the conservation of habitats). The Nature Protection Act, however, is not yet fully into force. Amendments are currently being discussed in order for the act to be more in line with the Directives.
According to the Surface Waters Pollution Act (consolidated version of 2002) (Wet Verontreiniging Oppervlaktewateren) every discharge of wastewater into a surface water (and in some listed cases into municipal sewers) requires a permit from the competent authority. All dischargers are liable to pay a pollution levy according to the “polluter pays principle”. The act also lays down the allocation of tasks to the various authorities. The operational section of the Ministry of V&W (Rijkswaterstaat) is responsible for the water quality of the (so-called) state-waters (larger surface waters), e.g. the river Rhine, the lake IJssel and the territorial part of the North Sea. For all other surface waters (regional waters) this responsibility lies with provincial authorities. The provinces are, however, allowed to delegate the right to grant discharge-permits (and to charge levies) to other public bodies. Most provinces have used this opportunity and have transferred this right to the water boards.
Council Directive 79/923/EEC on the quality required of shellfish waters requires member states to designate certain areas as needing protection or improvement in order to contribute to a high quality of shellfish products. Member states must establish programmes for reducing pollution to ensure that designated waters comply with the defined standards. This Directive has been implemented by the Decree containing measures regarding quality objectives and measurements for surface waters (1983) (Besluit houdende regelen inzake kwaliteitsdoelstellingen en metingen oppervlaktewateren), issued under the Surface Waters Pollution Act.
Regulations concerning the transport of live bivalve molluscs from production areas to re-watering sites, processing establishments etc. are provided by the Decree on health requirements for live bivalve molluscs (2000) (Verordening gezondheidsvoordschriften levende tweekleppige weekdieren), issued by the Fish Product Board. All such transports must be accompanied by a registration document, to be issued by the Chairman of the Fish Product Board, in accordance with the VWA. This document should include name and address of the producer, the production area, health status, type and quantity of live bivalve mollusc etc.
The safety of, inter alia, aquaculture products is regulated in the Decree relative to fisheries products, snails and frog legs (1995, as amended) (Warenwetbesluit visserijprodukten, slakken en kikkerbillen), while more specific regulations on hygiene requirements, packaging, conservation, transport, HACCP etc. are set out in the Regulation on fisheries products, live bivalve molluscs, snails and frog legs (1995, as amended) (Warenwetregeling visserijproducten, tweekleppige weekdieren, slakken en kikkerbillen). This legislation implements a number of EU Directives including, inter alia, Council Directive 91/492/EEC laying down the health conditions for the production and the placing on the market of live bivalve molluscs, Council Directive 91/493/EEC of 22 July 1991 laying down the health conditions for the production and placing on the market of fishery products, Council Regulation (EC) 104/2000 on the common organisation of the markets in fishery and aquaculture products, and Commission Regulation (EC) 2065/2001 laying down the conditions for informing consumers about fishery and aquaculture products.
Additional requirements for shellfish quality control are found in the Decree on health requirements for live bivalve molluscs (2000) (Verordening gezondheidsvoordschriften levende tweekleppige weekdieren), issued by the Fish Product Board. The Chairman of the Fish Product Board, or the VWA, has the power to temporarily close a production area for harvesting if certain bio-toxin or microbiological limits are exceeded. A shellfish monitoring programme is carried out by the RIVO, under contract of the Fisheries Department, together with the Fish Product Board. Additional requirements for fish processing can be found in the Decree on health requirements for fish processing establishments (2000) (Verordening gezondheidsvoorschriften visverwerkende bedrijven), also issued by the Fish Product Board. Monitoring of shellfish processing is generally carried out by the processing companies, which are obliged to apply HACCP procedures.
Generally, the evaluation of residues of veterinary drugs in foods of animal origin is done within the framework of the Veterinary Drugs Act. However, at present no veterinary drugs have been registered for use in the aquaculture sector. The evaluation of residues of pesticides in, inter alia, fish and fishery products is done within the framework of the Pesticides Act, in particular the Decree on Residues (1964) (Residubesluit) and the Regulation on Pesticide Residues (1984) (Regeling Residuen van Bestrijdingsmiddelen).
Under the Act regulating subsidies from the Ministry of LNV (1997) (Kaderwet LNV-subsidies), the Ministry of LNV may grant subsidies to, inter alia, the fisheries sector. In 2004, the Ministry made available three million EURO, originating from the EU Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG), to subsidize the aquaculture sector. FIFG operates under Council Regulation (EC) 2792/1999 laying down the detailed rules and arrangements regarding Community structural assistance in the fisheries sector. FIFG supports investments in the fisheries sector, including aquaculture private production projects. A financial participation from the private investor is generally requested, which can range between 40 percent and 60 percent of the total investment according to the area. FIFG also allows for the financing of measures which aim to create a favourable environment for the industry to develop itself. For instance, pilot projects aiming to establish and distribute technical and economic knowledge on new species or technologies may be eligible for aid. FIFG also finances measures to find and promote new markets for aquaculture products. This may include, inter alia, operations associated with quality certification, product labelling, and product standardization and promotion campaigns.GMOs
The financial programme under FIFG covers the period 2000 to 2006. It is currently expected that FIFG will be succeeded by the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) to provide aid to fisheries from 2007 to 2013. EFF will target four priority areas, aquaculture, processing and marketing being one of them. Shellfish farmers, temporarily unable to harvest their production due to unforeseen circumstances, will be eligible for EFF aid. The development and application of methods and practices that lessen the impact of aquaculture on the environment, the implementation of measures to promote hygiene and protect public health as well as initiatives to enhance marketing conditions of aquaculture products will be eligible for EFF aid. Priority will be given in these areas to projects that boost employment without encouraging over-investment. The focus will be on support for small enterprises. These objectives will also guide funding to the processing and marketing of fisheries and aquaculture products.
There are presently two main areas of potential application of GMO technologies in aquaculture. The first is the use of GMO vegetable products in fish feed and the use of GMOs in medicines and pharmaceuticals, and the second application is the use of GMO technologies (more specifically, transgenics) in breeding fish for commercial aquaculture use. At present, no fish farming projects are known that involve the use of GMOs. Generally, the Decree biotechnology with animals (1996) (Besluit biotechnologie bij dieren), issued under the Animal Health and Welfare Act (1992) (Gezondheids- en welzijnswet voor Dieren), requires a license of the Ministry of LNV for the use of biotechnology with animals.
At Community level, recent legislation on GMOs and GM food and feed includes Directive 2001/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms, and Regulation (EC) 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council on genetically modified food and feed. The latter provides for the assessment, authorisation and marketing of GM food and feed. Authorisation requires the preparation of a dossier setting out the reports of studies undertaken to demonstrate the efficacy of the product and its safety for animals, humans and the environment. The assessment of the dossier is then undertaken by the European Food Safety Authority. Products considered acceptable for both food and feed use are authorised under a Community procedure involving all Member States subject if necessary to specified conditions of use. Labelling provisions are intended to provide harmonized, objective information for the consumer. A threshold has also been set below which food and feed containing adventitious or technically unavoidable traces of genetically modified material are not subject to the labelling provisions. Provision is made for the establishment of a register, to which the public will have access, containing non-confidential information on GM foods marketed in the Community.
Also relevant is Regulation (EC) 1830/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the traceability and labelling of genetically modified organisms and the traceability of food and feed products produced from genetically modified organisms. The Regulation aims to harmonize Community labelling procedures and risk management measures. Each operator within the chain must implement a system for recording the operators from whom they purchased GMO products and the operators to whom they supplied such products. However, when adventitious or unintentional contamination occurs in a food or feed below the thresholds established in Regulation 1829/2003 or Directive 2001/18, notification of each operator in the supply chain will not be necessary.
(Besluit aanwijzing voor productie te houden dieren) Decree on the indication of animals that may be kept for production purposes (1998).
(Warenwetbesluit visserijprodukten, slakken en kikkerbillen) Decree relative to fisheries products, snails and frog legs (1995).
COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 79/409/EEC of 2 April 1979 on the conservation of wild birds
COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 79/923/EEC of 30 October 1979 on the quality required of shellfish waters
COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 85/337/EEC of 27 June 1985 on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment
COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 90/167/EEC of 26 March 1990 laying down the conditions governing the preparation, placing on the market and use of medicated feedingstuffs in the Community
COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 91/67/EEC of 28 January 1991 concerning the animal health conditions governing the placing on the market of aquaculture animals and products
COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 91/492/EEC of 15 July 1991 laying down the health conditions for the production and the placing on the market of live bivalve molluscs
COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 91/493/EEC of 22 July 1991 laying down the health conditions for the production and placing on the market of fishery products
COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora
COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 93/53/EEC of 24 June 1993 introducing minimum Community measures for the control of certain fish diseases
COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 93/54/EC of 24 June 1993 amending Directive 91/67/EEC concerning the animal health conditions governing the placing on the market of aquaculture animals and products
COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 95/22/EC of 22 June 1995 amending Directive 91/67/EEC concerning the animal health conditions governing the placing on the market of aquaculture animals and products
COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 95/53/EC of 25 October 1995 fixing the principles governing the organization of official inspections in the field of animal nutrition
COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 95/69/EC of 22 December 1995 laying down the conditions and arrangements for approving and registering certain establishments and intermediaries operating in the animal feed sector and amending Directives 70/524/EEC, 74/63/EEC, 79/373/EEC and 82/471/EEC
COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 95/71/EC of 22 December 1995 amending the Annex to Directive 91/493/EEC laying down the health conditions for the production and the placing on the market of fishery products
COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 96/61/EC of 24 September 1996 concerning integrated pollution prevention and control
COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 97/11/EC of 3 March 1997 amending DIRECTIVE 85/337/EEC of 27 June 1985 on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment
COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 97/61/EC of 20 October 1997 amending the Annex to Directive 91/492/EEC of 15 July 1991 laying down the health conditions for the production and the placing on the market of live bivalve molluscs
COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 97/79/EC of 18 December 1997 amending Directives 71/118/EEC, 72/462/EEC, 85/73/EEC, 91/67/EEC, 91/492/EEC, 91/493/EEC, 92/45/EEC and 92/118/EEC as regards the organisation of veterinary checks on products entering the Community from third countries
COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 98/45/EC of 24 June 1998 amending Directive 91/67/EEC concerning the animal health conditions governing the placing on the market of aquaculture animals and products
DIRECTIVE 2001/18/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 12 March 2001 on the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms and repealing Council Directive 90/220/EEC
DIRECTIVE 2002/32/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 7 May 2002 on undesirable substances in animal feed
DIRECTIVE 2000/60/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for the Community action in the field of water policy
COUNCIL REGULATION (EEC) 2377/90 of 26 June 1993 establishing community procedures for fixing maximum limits for veterinary drug residues in foodstuffs of animal origin
COUNCIL REGULATION 2309/93/EEC of 22 July 1993 laying down Community procedures for the authorisation and supervision of medicinal products for human and veterinary use and establishing a European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products
COUNCIL REGULATION (EC) 2792/1999 of 17 December 1999 laying down the detailed rules and arrangements regarding Community structural assistance in the fisheries sector
COUNCIL REGULATION (EC) 104/2000 of 17 December 1999 on the common organisation of the markets in fishery and aquaculture products
REGULATION (EC) 1829/2003 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 22 September 2003 on genetically modified food and feed
REGULATION (EC) 1830/2003 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 22 September 2003 concerning the traceability and labelling of genetically modified organisms and the traceability of food and feed products produced from genetically modified organisms and amending Directive 2001/18/EC
COMMISSION REGULATION (EC) 2065/2001 of 22 October 2001 laying down detailed rules for the application of Council Regulation (EC) 104/2000 as regards informing consumers about fishery and aquaculture products
(Ministerie van Volkshuisvesting, Ruimtelijke Ordening en Milieubeheer or VROM) Ministry of Public Health, Spatial Planning and Environmental Affairs
(Ministerie van Verkeer & Waterstaat or V&W) Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management
Smaal, A.C. & Lucas, L. 2000. Regulation and monitoring of marine aquaculture in the Netherlands. Journal of Applied Ichthyology, 16(4-5): 187-191.