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A short overview of the status of aquaculture in the Adriatic countries (Continue)

A Short overview of the status aquaculture in Italy

Giovanna Marino*, Enrico Ingle*, Stefano Cataudella#

* ICRAM - Sustainable Use of Marine Resources Department, Via Casalotti 300, 00166 Rome, Italy. E-mail: [email protected]

# University of Rome, Laboratory of Experimental Ecology and Aquaculture, Via di Passolombardo 430, 00133 Rome, Italy.

1. General Background

1.1 Geography, climate and population

Italy is a peninsula situated in Southern Europe which projects into the central Mediterranean Sea. Its territory has considerable southward extension (47°-35°N, 6°-18°E) and covers an area of 1932.2 km. The bordering countries are: France 488 km, Switzerland 740 km, Austria 430 km, and Slovenia 232 km. This peninsula is surrounded by the Ligurian, Tyrrhenian, Ionian and Adriatic Seas and has two main islands, Sardegna and Sicilia, which form part of the national territory (Map Figure 1). In total, Italy has an area of 301337 km2 and a length of 1932.2 km, which is subdivided into 20 administrative regions. It currently comprises 103 provinces and over 8 000 municipalities.

Geography: The Italian territory is varied and fragmentary in nature. Much of the land is covered by mountains (35.2 percent): the Alps extending across Italy and the Apennine run down the centre from north to south. The territory consists plainland (23.2 percent), while 41.6 percent is made up of hilly areas. Its coastline is approximately 7 500 km long, with the western coasts differing considerably from those in the east.The west coast is rugged and interspersed with bays, gulfs and other inlets, while the Upper and Middle Adriatic coast is low and sandy.

Climate: The climate varies considerably according to the type of terrain and its latitude (Alpine, Po Valley, Adriatic, Apennine, Ligurian-Tyrrhenian, Mediterranean). On average, the hottest month is July (when temperatures can reach more than 30°C); the coldest month is January; the wettest month is November, with an average rainfall of 129 mm; while the most dry month is July, with an average rainfall of 15 mm. During the winter high pressure conditions favour the north winds (tramontana, maestrale and bora) while the south winds (libeccio on the Tyrrhenian coast and scirocco on the Adriatic) are favoured in the summer. These climatic changes intensify extreme events, with two simultaneous effects: on the one hand, an increased frequency of extreme events; and on the other, an increase in the intensity of individual events. The damage caused by these natural processes can have an effect on any coastal structure and superstructure built without taking into account extreme environmental conditions in the area.

Population: According to the last census carried out by ISTAT in 2001, Italy has a resident population of 56305568 inhabitants, of which 51.6 percent are women. It has a zero demographic growth rate, with a birth and death rate both standing at 9.4‰. The mean population density is 186.9 inhabitants/km2, one of the highest in Europe, and is distributed unevenly over the territory due to the variable environmental conditions. The urban and rural population account for 67 and 33 percent respectively, with 53 percent, i.e., over 20 000 inhabitants, living in centres.

About 17 million people live along the Italian coast, and to these a further 16 million tourists must be added, thus creating an overall demographic load of about 32–33 million persons. Taking into considering the local population alone, the coastal municipalities account for 14 percent of the country's total area and 29 percent of the resident population, with a mean density twice that of the national population, which exceeds 500 inhabitants/km2 in the Rome, Naples and Genoa areas.

Figure 1

Figure 1. Italian seas.

1.2 Land and water resources

Water Resources

The hydrographic system is based on numerous rivers that, on the whole, are nevertheless characterized by a low flow rate. The watercourse flow conditions are closely linked to rainfall. The main river is the Po, about 652 km in length, which with its numerous tributaries creates approximately 965 km of navigable internal waterways. It forms a large delta on the Adriatic Sea coast and makes the largest contribution of fresh water to the Mediterranean. There are relatively few large Italian lakes, excluding the 3000 Alpine lakes of different origin and small in size. Of particular importance for aquaculture purposes are the lakes and coastal lagoons, most of which are situated in the Northern (Friuli, Veneto, Emilia Romagna) and Southern Adriatic coast (Puglia), in the Central Tyrrhenian coast (Toscana and Lazio), and along the West coast of Sardegna and Sicilia.

Coastal land resources

In Italy, 58 percent of the coastal territory is exposed to intensive anthropic pression, 13 percent to extensive occupation and only 29 percent is free from settlement and infrastructures (WWF, 1996), although the distribution is uneven. Contributing to this figure is the 73 percent of Sardegna and 40 percent of Veneto, while along the Central and Southern Adriatic coast the free areas represent a negligible amount. A 500 km long strip runs along the Tyrrhenian and Ligurian coasts and other coastal conurbations are in the Southern Tyrrhenian, gravitating around the bays of Naples and Salerno, and in the central Adriatic, around the Marche and Emilia-Romagna. Anthropic pressure on the Italian coastal zone is mainly due to the resident and tourist population, as well as the increasing and more intense use of resources. More than twenty use categories (ENEA, 2001) are identified on the Italian coasts. Some of these involve only the coastal land while an ever-growing number, including aquaculture and fisheries, involve also or only coastal waters.

Table 1. Land and water resources.

ItemArea (km2)Length (km)
1. Total land301 3371 932.2
2. Coastline7 2107 456.4
3. Lagoon area1 500 
4. Main lakes and reservoirs (23)1 371.9 
5. Main rivers and streams (27) 4 316.0

1.3 Selected economic and human indicators

Italy has a diversified industrial economy with roughly the same total and per caput output as France and the UK (Table 2). This capitalistic economy is still divided into a developed industrial north, dominated by private companies, and a less developed agricultural south, with a 20 percent unemployment rate. Most of the raw materials needed by the industries and more than 75 percent of energy requirements are imported.

Table 2. Selected economic and human indicators (CIA, 2003).

GDP (US $)$1.438 trillion (2002 est.)
Agricultural GDP (US $)2.4%
PCE1 or GDP per caput income (US $/caput)Purchasing power parity: $25000 (2002 est.)
Human Development IndexLabour force: 23.6 million (2001 est.);
Labour force by occupation:
Services 63%, industry 32%, agriculture 5%
Unemployment rate: 9.1% (2002 est.)

1 Per caput earnings.

2. Characteristics of the sector

2.1. General information on Italian aquaculture: tradition, evolution of main practices and location

Italian aquaculture is characterized by the farming of a wide range of different species and applied technologies owing to the diversity of available sites (Table 3). Some production areas are the result of traditions of ancient origin, while others became important with the introduction of modern intensive farming techniques. The geographical distribution of the aquaculture areas is characterized by valliculture in the north/east regions, pond farming in Central Italy and the Islands and by shellfish farming in the coastal areas.

Table 3. Main species and production systems currently in practice.

Common nameSpeciesProduction facilitiesMarket focus (export/domestic)
European seabassDicentrarchus labraxMonoculture in land-based and sea cage (SW)Domestic
Gilthead seabreamSparus aurataMono and polyculture in land-based and sea cage (SW)Domestic
Sea breamsDiplodus spp.
Puntazzo puntazzo
Polyculture in land-based and sea cage (SW)Domestic
MulletsMugil spp.Extensive and semi-intensive polyculture (BW/SW)Domestic
European eelAnguilla anguillaIntensive monoculture in land based (FW)Domestic
Rainbow troutOnchorynchus mykissIntensive monoculture in land based (FW)Domestic
CatfishIctalurus spp. Ameiurus spp.Semi-intensive monoculture in land based (FW)Domestic
Common carpCyprinus carpioExtensive/semi-intensive monoculture in land based (FW)Domestic
SturgeonAcipenser spp.Intensive monoculture in land based (FW)Domestic
Other fishPagrus spp., Umbrina cirrosa,
Argyrosomus regius,
Dentex dentex , etc
Monoculture in land-basedDomestic
MusselsMytilus galloprovincialisMonoculture fixed (<10%), single ventia long-line (75%), multi-ventia (Trieste long-line)Domestic (95%)
ClamsTapes philippinarumMonoculture, management of natural resources and hatchery-restocked juveniles.National domestic (76%)
Tapes decussatusRegional domestic (74%)

2.1.1 Aquaculture in coastal areas

Extensive fish farming

Aquaculture production inside coastal lagoons currently occupies a total area of approximately 100 000 ha, of which about 60 000 ha are covered by water and 43 000 ha are regularly utilized by 112 units (2001) for fish-farming activities.

Valliculture covers an area of 16 000 ha in Veneto, 11 000 ha in Emilia Romagna and 600 ha in Friuli Venezia Giulia (Table 4). The “valli da pesca” are located in confined coastal lagoon environments with an area from 10 to 10 000 ha;the smallest are located in Friuli Venezia Giulia and the largest in Veneto and Emilia Romagna.

Table 4. Regional distribution of extensive and semi-intensive production units and relative surface (ha) in 2001 (ICRAM-API, modified from Ingle et al., 2002).

Production Units (n)
Production Surface (ha)
Veneto5016 000
Friuli Venezia Giulia36600
Emilia Romagna1211 000
Puglia55 000
Toscana15 000
Lazio11 500
Sardegna69 000
Sicilia61 000
Adriatic Basin (subtotal)9832 600
TOTAL11249 100

Valliculture in the Northern Adriatic accounts for 66 percent of the confined wet lands used for fish farming, and 87 percent of the extensive units in Italy supplying about 70 percent of the aquaculture production from coastal lagoons. The remainder is produced by extensive farming carried out in coastal areas and brackish waters located in Toscana, Puglia and Sardegna. Pond farming used in these coastal areas is technologically more simple than that used in valliculture; even if productivity is generally higher (between 30 and 300 kg/ha, respectively).

Extensive and semi-intensive aquaculture carried out inside coastal lagoons consists of the farming of euryhaline species, such as seabass Dicentrarchus labrax, seabream Sparus aurata, mullets Mugil spp., Chelon spp., Liza spp. and eel Anguilla anguilla, which are capable of withstanding a high degree of salinity variation both within the span of the same day (tides) and during seasonal changes (influx of freshwater from rivers). Currently production trends in these species has changed and there has been a strong reduction in eel culture in favour of seabream and partly of seabass, while grey mullets remain the reference species for this type of production.

Aquaculture undertaken inside coastal lagoons represents a unique ecological, landscape and cultural heritage and contributes to the conservation of the sensitive wet lands, under constant threat of negative impacts from the various anthropic activities. Environmental degradation of coastal areas, the impact of ichthyophagous birds and the delay in taking management action to improve such environments, has recently caused a major decline in production and has diminished the peculiarity of Italian aquaculture.

Intensive fish farming

The intensification of fish production in coastal areas began in the early 1980s in the same areas used traditionally for lagoon farming and in geographic areas where climatic conditions were favourable. Today land-based aquaculture farms are scattered along the entire coastal area and are mainly constituted by seabass and seabream farming. Due to technological improvements the number of land-based units increased from 60 in 1993 to 74 in 2001, accompanied by a constant growth in production. At present further expansion of land-based aquaculture units is constrained by the competition for the space use in coastal areas. This leads to a continuous trend towards in-shore mariculture protected areas and off-shore mariculture in the open sea. The number of cage installations increased from 4 units in 1993 to 48 in 2001, but this number has doubled in the last three years alone (Table 5).

Table 5. Number of intensive farms and hatcheries for marine species for the period 1993–2001 (ICRAM-API, modified from Ingle et al. 2002).

Marine species199319941995199619971998199920002001
Land-based farms (n)606267666563606774
Cage farms (n)45791019223648
Hatcheries (n)222220202017171721

The regional distribution of marine species production units shows a greater concentration of land-based farms in the Northern Adriatic (Veneto, Puglia and Friuli Venezia Giulia), while over 60 percent of the cage-based mariculture installations are concentrated in the Southern Adriatic and account for only 35 percent of the total.

Commencing in the 1980s, a strong impulse to set up intensive farms for marine and/or euryhaline species came from the development of controlled reproduction techniques applied to seabass and seabream. The construction of a large number of hatcheries between the 1980s and 1990s ensured self-sufficient seed production from 1991 onwards. Since 1993 the number of hatcheries has remained constant at around 20 (21 in 2001), although the installations have undergone a continuous and substantial technological improvement. Marine hatcheries are concentrated in five regions: Toscana (6), Veneto (4), Puglia, Sicilia and Lazio (3). In the Adriatic there are 11 hatcheries which account for 50 percent of the total production units (Table 6).

New hatchery technologies, using large volume tanks, have been recently developed for the production of high-quality seabass and seabream fry, suitable for extensive farming supply and restocking procedures. The “large volume techniques”, have been adopted by the majority of new units brought into production since 1998.

Since 1995, reproduction techniques have been developed for the production of new species and in 2001 ten hatcheries produced fingerlings at a commercial level of the sharpsnout seabream Diplodus puntazzo, the shi drum Umbrina cirrosa, the striped seabream Lithognathus mormyrus, the pandora Pagellus erythrinus, the common dentex Dentex dentex, the common seabream Pagrus pagrus and the dusky grouper Epinephelus marginatus.

Table 6. Regional distribution of intensive land-based and cage farms and hatcheries for marine species in 2001 (ICRAM-API, modified from Ingle et al., 2002).

RegionIntensive Land-Based Farms for Marine Species (n°)Intensive Cage Farms for Marine Species (n°)Hatchery for Marine Species (n°)
Friuli Venezia Giulia731
Emilia Romagna300
Adriatic/Others (%)47.335.452.3

Shellfish farming

A process of conversion to modern mollusc farming practices occurred in the late 1980s with the introduction of a new species, the Manila clam (Tapes philippinarum) into the Upper Adriatic lagoon farms, and the development of a new culture technique. The ready adaptation of Manila clam to the local environment ensured its spontaneous diffusion, effectively revolutionizing the productive structure in costal areas and providing important social implications. During the same period, the introduction of off-shore technologies in mussel farming allowed the open sea areas to be cultured. To the traditional production areas, most of which were in strictly coastal or lagoon zones, were added numerous off-shore productive areas which were less subject to environmental, health and hygiene problems which traditionally affect mussel culture.

Currently shellfish culture is mainly based on mussels (Mytilus galloprovincialis) and Manila clams (Tapes philippinarum), to which a small quantity of grooved carpet shells (Tapes decussatus) and oysters (Crassostrea gigas and Ostrea edulis) must be added.

A recent survey carried out by the “UNIMAR” Consortium in 2001 identified 269 active mollusc farms (Table 7) with a total of 4 000 employees that used different methods often with multi-species production.

Mussel farming is widespread along much of the Italian coastline (Table 7). The traditional mussel-culture coastal or lagoon regions include the Gulf of Taranto (Puglia), La Spezia (Liguria), the Venetian Lagoon, the Flegrean Coast (Campania), to which more recently has been added the Trieste coastal area (Friuli-Venezia Giulia), the Gulf of Olbia (Sardegna), Emilia-Romagna and the Adriatic part of Puglia. Only three coastal regions - Calabria, Basilicata and Toscana - are totally lacking in mussel farming facilities.

In the year 2000 there were 204 mussel farms in Italy which essentially used three farming systems (Table 8): the fixed; the ‘monoventia’ long line; and the ‘multiventia’ or Trieste long line systems. Mussel culture is monospecific, except for that located in lagoon areas, where clam production is often associated with mussel production. Oyster production is generally associated with offshore mussel production.

Clam farms in Italy are concentrated in the principal lagoon areas. A total of 54 farms have been recorded, distributed mainly in the Po area (Emilia-Romagna and Veneto) and in Sardinia. In the Upper Adriatic lagoons farming is based mainly on Manila clam production to which must be added small quantities of grooved carpet shells, Tapes decussatus, in the Ravenna area (Emilia Romagna) and in Sardinian ponds.

Table 7. Number of farms and employees in mollusc culture (modified from Prioli, 2001).

RegionFarm (n)Employees (n)
Friuli-Venezia Giulia31530
Veneto491 8014
Total2693 718346

Table 8. Number of mussel-farms and size of productive structures (modified from Prioli, 2001).

RegionTotalTotal metresm (average)min.max.
Abruzzoi118 00018 00018 00018 000
Campania1241 2883 44130010 000
Emilia-Romagna19631 15033 2186 000200 050
Friuli-Venezia Giulia24186 4407 76840035 800
Lazio421 2955 3241 5006 000
Liguria6849 04272127512 648
Marche655 5009 2502 50025 000
Molise246 00023 00022 00024 000
Puglia31550 27017 751700210 000
Sardegna16143 6608 9791 05036 200
Veneto20303 24015 16211082 500
Total2042 046 48510 032275210 000

Table 9. Mussel farms and their size (modified from Prioli , 2001).

Culture SystemRegiontotal metresmin.max.
FixedEmilia-Romagna81 60081 60081 600
FixedLiguria15 27040532
FixedPuglia96 75018030 000
FixedSardegna1 200600600
FixedVeneto9 3401007 500
Total fixed 204.1604081.600
Single ventiaAbruzzo18 00018 00018 000
Single ventiaCampania41 28830010 000
Single ventiaEmilia-Romagna549 5506 000118 450
Single ventiaFriuli-Venezia Giulia400400400
Single ventiaLazio21 2951 5006 000
Single ventiaMarche55 5002 50025 000
Single ventiaMolise46 00022 00024 000
Single ventiaPuglia376 6703 000180 000
Single ventiaSardegna107 3401 14024 000
Single ventiaSicilia600600600
Single ventiaVeneto293 9002 40075 000
Total single ventia 1.510.543300180 000
Trieste systemFriuli-Venezia Giulia186 04040016 000
Trieste systemLiguria33 77296500
Trieste systemPuglia76 85030016 800
Trieste systemSardegna30 8302 4 020 800
Trieste system total 327.4929620.800
Total rafts 4.2901.0503.240
Total 2.046.48540180.000

2.1.2 Inland aquaculture

Intensive fish farming

I nland aquaculture is traditionally characterized by the intensive farming of trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), eel (Anguilla anguilla) and only recently of sturgeon (Acipenser sturio). Trout culture represents the earliest intensive farming practice in the aquaculture sector, but the number of farms decreased considerably in the last decade (Table 10), from 589 production units in 1993 to the present 383 (-35 percent). Production remained high due to the recent technological modernization of many plants and national financing plus cuts in production costs. More than 50 percent of the trout production is located in Veneto and in Friuli Venezia Giulia (Table 11).

Table 10. Trends in the number of intensive farms for salmonids and eel and weaning units for eel for the period 1993–2001. (Source ICRAM-API, modified from Ingle et al., 2002).

Intensive farms (n)
Intensive farms (n)
Weaning units (n)

Eel production was traditionally accomplished by both intensive and extensive aquaculture but until the early 1990s extensive farming made a significant contribution. Currently eel production is carried out almost exclusively in intensive facilities operating at high temperatures (24–26 °C) using water of geothermal origin or recirculating systems in which the water is heated. Over the past five years the growing competition from Central and Northern European countries has led to a considerable decline in the number of production units, now standing at 47, that is, practically only one third of those in operation in 1993 (Table 10). The reduced availability of fry has also led to a reduction in the number of weaning units “cecherie”, and only 3 are still in existence (Table 10). A large production of fry is concentrated in a small number of big farms (10–15 units) located in Northern Italy (Table 12).

Catfish farming has a long tradition. It developed in the Po Valley and, moreover, in Emilia Romagna there are 163 production units out of the 193 counted in Italy. The farms use very weak intensive techniques and are mostly small in size and often family owned. In Italy the autochthonous species (Icthalurus melas) or common catfish was traditionally farmed. Later, however, the American species (Icthalurus punctatus) was introduced and, starting from the mid-1990s, a strong reduction in the local catfish production s was observed as a result of the strong incidence of viral pathologies. The American catfish, which proved much more resistant to pathogens, gradually replaced the autochthonous species in culture farms. The local catfish species is still more appreciated for sport fishing.

Table 11. Regional distribution of trout farms and production (t) in 2001. (ICRAM-API, modified from Ingle et al., 2002).

RegionTrout farms (n)Trout production (t)
Valle D'Aosta270
Piemonte233 000
Lombardia665 100
Trentino Alto Adige542 200
Veneto8612 100
Friuli Venezia Giulia7012 300
Emilia Romagna5100
Toscana291 200
Umbria91 500
Marche82 600
Abruzzi102 900
TOTAL38344 000

Table 12. Regional distribution of eel farms and weaning units in 2001 (ICRAM-API, modified from Ingle et al., 2002).

RegionEel intensive farms (n)Weaning units (n)
Friuli Venezia Giulia10
Emilia Romagna20

3. National policy

In Italy the aquaculture and fishery sectors are coordinated under the responsibility of the Directorate General of Aquaculture and Fisheries of the Italian Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Policies (MiPAF). Since 1997 the administrative functions concerning agriculture and fisheries (DL 143/97; DL 112/98) have been assigned to the various regions, while the Ministry retains the power of setting policy, coordination, planning and the management of marine fish resources of national interest.

The logic underlying this law is the coordination between the central government and regional administrations through an economic and territorial programme for the sector and the overall decentralization of management and responsibility. This redistribution has required a strong interaction between the central government and regional administrations in order to avoid duplicating responsibilities and expenditure, and to avoid behaviour that may not be convergent among the regions (for instance, as in the case of the criteria used to assign concessions for mariculture activities).

3.1 National Plan

The topics to be addressed in the consolidation and development of Italian aquaculture for the from 2000 to 2002 have been identified in the sixth Three-year Plan for Aquaculture and fisheries (Ministry of Agriculture), and a new plan (2003/2005) is actually in the final drafting stages. The National Plan provides a detailed and appropriate reference framework for the aquaculture sector and an accurate analysis of major constraints limiting the expansion of the sector. Institutes, cooperatives and production associations are deeply involved in its design. Objectives, priorities and financial instruments are identified according to European and national policies and since 1996 the Directorate General of Aquaculture and Fisheries has promoted the relevance of sustainable aquaculture and disseminated the principles of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF) (FAO, 1995) throughout the aquaculture and fisheries industry. The following strategies have been included as priorities:

3.1.1 Increasing domestic production in a context of environmental sustainability

Priority has been given to investments for increasing the environmental compatibility of aquaculture farms and to support responsible aquaculture models, through:

-   improvement in the development of priority criteria to assign financial grants to non-polluting forms of aquaculture;

-   certification policies regarding fish production, encouraging the spreading of ISO standards and eco-labelling, such as EMAS ;

-   development of organic aquaculture;

-   development of vaccines, implementation of vaccination campaigns and new prophylactic and therapeutic drugs that have a lower impact on local ecosystems than those currently in use.

Priority has also been given to the adoption of measures to increase the volume and the quality of fish production. In particular these consist of:

-   improve farming technologies and structural updating of plants to reduce production costs;

-   development of effective innovative intensive farming technologies, e.g., for off-shore mariculture;

-   development of controlled breeding techniques for new species in order to enhance the diversification of production;

-   application of labels for quality improvement, enhancing the image of aquaculture imported products and quality control;

-   evaluation of market perspectives and productive trends by means of an accurate analysis of Mediterranean aquaculture products, market flow, foreign demand, consumption habits and regulations.

In the case of molluscs:

-   environmental rehabilitation of lagoon environments, including vivification action in the areas at greater risk of eutrophication;

-   action to control unauthorized harvesting, in particular in the Venice Lagoon, which may also have negative effects in terms of hygiene and quality product qualification;

-   encourage mollusc farming practices rather than simple resources management by means of seeding , cleanliness and management during harvesting;

-   supporting farmers with technical structures and by setting up Management Consortia.

3.1.2 Safeguarding employment levels

Safeguarding employment levels, which have been placed at risk by the intense action aimed at reducing fishery efforts in general and the growing pressure regarding the restrictions of certain fishing systems, by means of:

-   integrating aquaculture with fisheries through the initiatives by operators in the sector in favour of reconversion and income integration. Priority will be given to shellfish farming initiatives, in particular mussels and clams, that offer opportunities for reconversion and allow fisheries to be combined with fish farming;

-   reconversion involving mariculture, sport fishing activities and tourism;

-   reconversion involving quality control and innovative marketing systems.

3.1.3 The involvement of research in the aquaculture sector

The scientific research carried out as part of the Aquaculture and Fisheries Plan represents an important support for the sector. The action of coordinating the efforts of the various scientific workers in the field and with producers means that research is increasingly being focused on priority topics that will have spin-off applications in this sector.

3.2 Relevant legislation on aquaculture

The regulation status of aquaculture is rather fragmentary, and does not encourage the realization of the potential of this sector nor does it ensure its full environmental compatibility. The over-abundance of laws and regulations has led to considerable problems of application in the past, due to constant conflicts of competence among the authorities. The recent devolution of power in administrative matters to the Regions (DL 112/98) should at least partially resolve the problem of excessive red tape in the sector.

The DPR 12/4/1996 entitled “Guidelines and Coordination for the Implementation of Article 40, comma 1, of Law No. 146 dated 22 February 1994, concerning provisions regarding the “Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)”also devolved to the Regions the task of implementing Directive No. 337/85/EC as amended and supplemented by Directive No. 11/97/EC. According to the provisions of DPR 12/4/96 fish farming facilities with a total area exceeding 5 ha situated in protected natural areas are subject to EIA procedures. Conversely, if the facility does not lie within a protected area the competent authority shall determine by means of a “verification procedure” (Article 10) whether the project characteristics (Annex D) require the EIA procedure to be carried out. The competent authority is the actual Region, except in the case of concessions granted in national parks, marine reserves and sensitive areas (e.g., SIC Directive No. 92/43/CEE) for which the adoption of safeguarding and management measures is a task determined by the State.

The regulations governing the management and treatment of waste in aquaculture, do not clearly define whether fish farming plant waste is to be considered effluent or waste. In practice, effluent disposed of through pipes is considered as discharge, which must be disposed of in accordance with the provision of Legislative Decree No.152 of 11 May 1999. Conversely, if disposal takes place in another manner, the waste must be considered as special waste in accordance with the Ronchi Decree (No. 22/97). Excluded from this classification is refuse of animal origin (e.g., fish carcasses), which is sub-divided into low and high risk material in accordance with Legislative Decree No. 508 of 14 December 1992. In this case aquaculture producers must perform a number of tasks designed to allow traceability of the path followed by the waste from the time of its production until its final disposal. In practice, this consists of self-disposal of waste by the producer after prior consent or notification (Article 10), otherwise the transport and treatment of carcasses is delegated to an authorized third party (transformation plants).

The responsibility for the issuance of concessions regarding the use of public water by aquaculture facilities and quality of the effluents from the farms has been devolved to the Regions and is regulated by the recent Legislative Decree No. 152/99 governing the concession and protection of water resources. The approach introduced by 152/99 concerning the protection of water resources is radically innovative as it subordinates the emission limits of each individual effluent to the general quality objective of the receiving body as a whole, and introduces the criterion for the quantitative protection of the resource. The new regulations make provision for a period of transition of a maximum of four years after the coming into effect of Legislative Decree No. 152/98, during which it is necessary for aquaculture farms to follow the parameters set out in Table 3 of Annex 5 and to take the necessary steps to avoid even a temporary increase in pollution. At the end of the four-year period, which actually ended in 2002, the same Decree in Article 37 called for the definition of “criteria referring to the containment of environmental impact due to aquaculture and fish farming” by the Ministry of the Environment, acting in conjunction with other administrations. In particular as far as trout farms are concerned, another important aspect, is the use of water resources. Concessions concerning the use of water utilized for human consumption may be granted only in cases, such as abundance availability and the administrative authority may impose flow rate restrictions on previously granted withdrawal concessions in order to guarantee a minimum viable watercourse flow and the general protection of the source.

Italy subscribed to the 1992 Rio Convention, which was ratified by Law No. 124 dated 14 February 1994, which did not allow alien species to be introduced. On 24 November 1996 Italy signed the Protocol for Protected Areas and Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean to the revised version of the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and of the Mediterranean Coast (former Convention for the Mediterranean Sea against pollution) amended in Barcelona in June 1995. The protocol, ratified by Italy in May 1999, entered into force on 12 December 1999. The Protocol considered (Article 13) the adoption of measures to prevent the voluntary or accidental introduction of non-indigenous species and the eradication of introduced species that can cause problems. National legislation delegates the authorization and control over the transfer and introduction of non-indigenous species to the Regions. Any intended introduction of marine fish must receive the prior authorization of the competent authorities of the Region, and is subject to sanitary inspection measures and veterinary controls, also in accordance with Decree Nos. 454/1988, and 555/1992 with Directive 91/67/EEC on “Veterinary Police for Aquaculture Products”, Decree no. 263/1997 with EU Directive No. 93/53 on “Fish Diseases”. The sanitary control measures include a certificate for the introduction and control by the competent Customs Offices; the establishment of an appropriate quarantine site for species preservation; the use of recirculated seawater systems and/or sterilization of all the effluents from the facility; sampling and sanitary controls to be carried out by the competent authority (Ministry of Health, Istituti Zooprofilattici Sperimentali) to monitor the health of the introduced species and the first generation of individuals.

Italy has also signed other important international Conventions closely related to aquaculture and coastal zone management, such as the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance.

Italy has a specific legislation for aquaculture products, as well as having general regulations applicable also to other products of animal origin. There are two general laws: Legislative Decree 26/5/97, No. 155 implementing Directives 93/43/EEC and 96/3/EC which lays down rules governing the hygiene of food products, including aquaculture products, updated in 1998 by Circular No. 227 of 26 January 1998 of the Ministry of Health regarding provisions concerning the publication of handbooks giving correct hygiene practices. The second law is the recent EU Directive on traceability of food products (178/2002), due to be incorporated into Italian legislation by 2005.

The EC Regulation No. 2065/2001 providing information to consumers on aquaculture and fisheries products was DM 27March 2002, which deals with the organization of common markets and establishes that products must be provided to the consumer with basic information of their main characteristics.

Specific regulations covering fishery products include sanitary aspects during production and marketing and are contained in Legislative Decree No. 531 30/12/1992, implementing Directive 91/493/EEC and in the recent updates concerning health monitoring in aquaculture production facilities (Circular of 13/6/2000 No. 12/38 - Ministry of Health).

In the case of shellfish, Legislative Decree 30/12/1992, No. 530 implementing Directive 91/492/EEC and Ministerial Decree 14/10/98 - the Ministry of Health sets down health regulations applying to the production and marketing of bivalve mollusc. According to Legislative Decree No. 530/92, mussel production areas are divided into A, B and C. Only mussels originating from A can be used directly for human consumption, whereas B products need to be processed in cleansing or in approved marine growing centres to comply with hygiene and health regulations. Circular No. 1166 of 31/5/00 - Ministry of Health updates No. 530/92 as far as the packaging and transportation of live bivalve molluscs are concerned.

Two recent regulations on animal feed, in particular the Ministry of Health Decree 23/3/2001 concerning modes and conditions of low risk material and products for the production of animal feed, now need to be amended in the light of Directive 2002/32EC on undesirable substances in animal feeds; Legislative Decree 4/8/1999, No. 336 implemented Directives 96/22/EC and 96/23/CE prohibiting the use of certain substances exerting a hormonal or thyreostatic action, as well as of β-agonist substances in animal product and control measurements of certain substances and their residues in live animals and their products. Policies on health regulations regarding aquaculture products are contained in Legislative Decree 30/12/92, No. 555 implementing Directive 91/67/EEC, which is aimed at creating disease-free zones and farms for the purpose of commercial exchanges among such farms having the same health status. Subsequently modified by Presidential Decree 16/12/99, No. 543 it contains the regulations enabling Directive 98/45/EC, modifying Directive 91/67/EC. Presidential Decree 3/7/1997, No. 263 implemented Directive 93/53/EEC containing minimal community measures to combat certain fish diseases. For shellfish, Presidential Decree 20/10/98 No. 395 implemented Directive 95/70/EC concerning minimum measures to combat certain diseases affecting live bivalve molluscs.

4. Production and market

4.1 Current and historical statistics of aquaculture production and seed availability

The Italian aquaculture output in 2001 amounted to 257 600 tonnes with a total value of over 500 million Euro (Table 13). Mollusc production accounts for over 73 percent of the total, made up of 135 000 tonnes of mussels (about 30 000 t from fishing) and 55 000 tonnes of Manila clams. Freshwater fish species production amounts to nearly 50 000 tonnes (mostly trout). The output of sea and brackish water species exceeded 23 000 tonnes in 2001, thus becoming the sector showing the greatest increase in production. More than 17 900 tonnes are represented by seabass and seabream, most of which are reared in sea water, to which 2 700 tonnes of eels and 700 tonnes of sturgeon must be added. Extensive output accounts for 22 percent of the total (Table 13).

Table. 13. Italian aquaculture output in tons and corresponding economic value in millions of Euro for the year 2001. (ICRAM-API, modified from Ingle et al., 2002)

SpeciesIntensive production (t)Extensive production (t)Total (t)Value (millions €)
Seabass8 9007009 60059.50
Seabream6 8001 1007 90042,.87
Eel2 4001002 50015.49
Mullets 3 0003 00010.07
Trout (*)44 000044 000129.53
Cat fish65006502.48
Other fish (**)2 20002 20011.36
TOTAL FISH66 7504 90071 650280.07
Mussel (***)135 00080.21
Manila clams55 000142.03

(*) Taking into account also the added value of fresh products processed on site.

(**) Pike, perch, striped bass, shi drum, dentex, red seabream, etc.

(***) Total output includes about 30000 t gathered from natural beds.

In terms of production value, the relative contribution made by shellfish decreased to 44 percent (about € 222 million), while the remaining 56 percent is represented by € 160 million accounted for by freshwater species (32 percent of the total) and € 120 million for sea and brackish water species (24 percent of the total).

4.1.1 Marine fish production

Seabass production rose from 250 tonnes in 1983 to the present 9 500 tonnes, which represents 94 percent of the entire seabass output (Table 14); extensive production also increased until after the mid- 1990s, and then decreased to about 600 t/year. A similar situation was also found for seabream (Table 14), where intensive production increased from 310 tonnes in 1983 to the current 7800 tonnes. Intensive farming accounts for 87 percent of the total, although extensive productions, which exceeded the intensive output until the early 1990s, are still increasing. In regions where production of marine species is greater, the ratio between land-based units and sea-cage facilities is very close to 1, whereas in regions where aquaculture has a longer tradition (Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Toscana), production is achieved mainly on land-based farms. There are some sea-cage facilities that have still not achieved full production. The highest output (nearly 70% percent of the total) was obtained in Sicilia, Puglia, Sardegna and Toscana. As regards the Adriatic basin, the output for Veneto is 1 000 tonnes in land-based units and only 50 in sea cages; Friuli Venezia Giulia produces 350 tonnes in land-based units and 500 in sea cages which in total account for about 22% percent of the output.

Mullet culture involves five species (Mugil cephalus, Chelon labrosus, Liza aurata, Liza saliens, Liza ramada), which are mainly farmed in brackish waters using extensive techniques in lagoons and costal areas. Fry is obtained still captured in the wild, although recently successful reproduction trials have been carried out using semi-intensive large volume techniques. For more than 15 years the output has remained practically stable at around 3000 t/year (Table 14). From the other marine species only sharpsnout bream, Diplodus puntazzo, production has been sufficiently consolidated while shi drum, Dentex, common seabream and dusky grouper farming is still only little more than at pilot stage. Sharpsnout seabream production began only in the late 1980s, with controlled reproduction experiments being performed on the common two-banded seabream (Diplodus vulgaris). Production was essentially intensive (both land-based and in sea cages) and after a substantial initial increment it practically doubled between 1996 and 2001, rising from 200 to 400 t/year, thus satisfying the limited market demand.

4.1.2 Freshwater fish production

Rainbow trout (Oncorhyncus mykiss) represents the most important intensively farmed fish in Italy. As early as 1983 Italian production had already exceeded 20 000 tonnes and a constant growth (over 10% percent per year) in output was observed until 1997. From 1998 onwards the output decreased to approximately 45000 tonnes (Table 14). Other freshwater fish, such as carp and catfish are linked to the productive tradition of several geographic zones. Sturgeon represents an innovation on the national scene. Other autochthonous salmonid species such as Salmo trutta, Salmo trutta marmoratus, the northern pike Esox lucius, and the white fish Coregonus lavaretus, are important for restocking.

Eel production stands at 2500 tonnes and is accomplished through intensive rearing techniques in recirculated systems, which reduce the duration of the production cycle and optimize survival at the early stages. The production trend (Table 14) shows how the contribution made by extensive farming gradually decreased to 100 tonnes in 2001. Over the same period intensive production grew, reaching its peak in 1999 (3000 tonnes). The strong reduction in production over the past two years, down to 2400 tonnes in 2001, is due to the strong competition from Central and Northern European countries rather than to the reduced seed availability. Originally, these countries were traditional importers of Italian products, but now their new closed-circuit hyperintensive facilities allowed them to be highly competitive.

Tab. 14. Trend of intensive and extensive aquaculture production (t) of marine and freshwater fish species from 1986 to 2001 in Italy (ICRAM-API, modified from Ingle et al., 2002

FishCulture system198719881989199019911992199319941995199619971998199920002001
BreamsInt.         150200300350400400
Tot         150200300350400400
Other fish (Other sparids, shy drum)N.R.N.R.N.R.N.R.N.R.2.0002.0001.0001.0001.0001.0001.0002.0002.1002.200
Total marine fishN.R.N.R.N.R.N.R.N.R.7.1387.9458.50010.50011.05012.00014.90016.45017.60020.800
Total freshwater fishN.R.N.R.N.R.N.R.N.R.42.01044.02050.00054.20052.15055.70052.70048.90048.90048.450
Total fishN.R.N.R.N.R.N.R.N.R.51.14853.96559.50065.70064.20068.70068.60067.35068.60071.450

4.1.3 Fingerling production

In the case of marine species, controlled reproduction systems have now attained a high level of reliability and production is focused mainly on seabass and seabream, allowing the national demand to be easily satisfied and a large number of fish to be exported. Seabass and seabream fry production has risen from just over 3 million juveniles in 1987 to over 90 million in 2001 (Table 15). In the 1990s seabass hatchery production satisfied the national demand and in 1995 that for seabream.

Table 15. Seabass and seabream juvenile production and the need over the period from 1987 to 2001. (ICRAM-API, modified from Ingle et al., 2002)

Hatcheries production
(n × 103)
Juveniles Need
(n × 103)
(n × 103)
Hatcheries production
(n × 103)
Juveniles Need
(n × 103)
(n × 103)
19873 0006 500-3.5004005 400-5 000
19884 0006 300-2.3006005 000-4 400
19896 3507 500-1 1501 8505 000-3 150
19906 4507 600-1 1502 5005 500-3 000
19916 9008 900-2 0004 0507 000-2 950
19929 0009 00006 4507 000-550
199320 40014 0006 40015 03714 0001 037
199419 00020 000-1 00011 20015 000-3 800
199521 50022 000-50014 00019 000-5 000
199625 00022 0003 00024 00020 0004 000
199733 00022 00011 00028 00021 0007 000
199860 00020 00040 00040 00022 00018 000
199962 00020 00042 00046 00022 00024 000
200050 00025 00025 00040 00030 00010 000
200150 50026 50024 00040 20031 2009 000

Reproduction and larval rearing techniques have been set up for several new species such as dentex (Dentex dentex), common seabream (Pagrus pagrus), red pandora (Pagellus erythrinus), shy shi drum (Umbrina cirrosa) and dusky grouper (Epinephelus marginatus).

4.1.4 Mussel production

For more than a decade the output for Italian mussel has been the largest component of national aquaculture (Table 16). In spite of the gradual technological updating and modernization of the farms (long lines), during which most production units were shifted offshore, production has undergone slight variations, rising from 84 84200 tonnes recorded in 1990 to 100 100000 tonnes in 1994, and to the current 107 000 tonnes (Table 16). The productions based on an extensive exploitation of artificial barriers and the management of bottom mussel beds make only a modest contribution. However, output statistics take into account global production, adding to the farming output the quantity also gathered on natural beds. Observation of the data in Table 14 shows that the greatest fluctuations in global production are linked to the different fishery trends over the period (from a minimum of 11 11000 to a maximum of 31 500 tonnes).

4.1.5 Clam production

For more than a decade, clam farming has represented the second-ranking Italian production and places Italy first in Europe with 55 55000 tonnes. Production comprises almost exclusively the imported Manila clam (Tapes philippinarum), which has replaced the local clam (Tapes decussatus). Clam production which began around 1980, underwent a rapid increase starting in the mid-1980s until the early 1990s. Subsequently growth slowed down, although always remaining significant (the peak output of 60 000 tonnes was reached in 1996) and flattened out at around 50 to 55,00 tonnes in the last three years (Table 16).

Table 16. Trends in mussel and manila clam production during the period from 1990 to 2001, taking into account both farming and natural beds production. (modified from Prioli, 2001)

Manila clamCulture27.11626.74024.00040.00060.00040.30040.00048.00050.00053.00055.000
Total molluscs128.116142.740144.000166.000192.000170.300170.000178.000180.000189.000190.000

4.2 Market

In 2001 the Italian aquaculture output increased by 1.5% percent, which is slightly under the European average of 3.5% percent, attaining about 260 000 tonnes (API/ICRAM estimates). Italy is a net importer of fish products. Italian aquaculture contributes to satisfying the domestic demand for fish products, accounting in 2001 for 42.9% percent of the fishery sector by volume, and for 25% percent in terms of value.

Italy is the reference market for fresh products for the entire Mediterranean basin. In recent years, the traditional exporting countries such as Spain, Portugal, France, Scandinavia and Argentina have been joined by Greece, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, and Malta. Significant reduction in market prices has occurred with increased market competition (Table 17).

For farmed marine species, in particular, the Italian market is also the largest at the European level. In 2001 the Italian Fish farmers Association (API) estimated a demand of about 80 000 tonnes, of which only 22 percent was covered by internal production. The figures in Table 11? 17 show that the price of seabass has decreased by 24% percent, that of seabream by more than 33% percent and that of sharpsnout seabream by about 15% percent in six years. Italian farmers have reacted by diversifying the supply (e.g., by offering transformed products on the market) and by increasing the market size (400–800 g). With regard to commercial aggressiveness, in particular by Greece, protests have been lodged by producers' associations in France, Portugal, Spain and Italy. Trout production showed a long positive supply trend with a consequent difficulty in marketing the fresh product. Farmers responded to this difficulty by gradually reducing the global production and increasing product diversification with processed and semi-processed products having a higher added value. The unit price of trout in the past eight years has increased by over 60% percent, rising from € 1.81 in 1994 to the current € 2.94 , although in 2001 it fell by 6% percent compared to 2000. Italy traditionally exported most of the eel production. Recently, however, competition from the Northern European countries and from Asian producers has led to a sizeable decrease in the value of the Italian output. The unit selling price, which reached a peak value of € 9.55 in 1997, has dropped by 35% percent. As far as other freshwater species (carp, catfish and sturgeon) are concerned there exists a niche for production on local markets. However, selling prices, which have displayed positive trends in recent years, could decrease rapidly if the quantities offered for sale were to increase. The same applies for new marine fish species (shi drum, common dentex, sole, Mediterranean amberjack, dusky grouper), for which there is as yet no consolidated production.

Table 17. Trends in production and prices of Italian aquaculture products from 1994 to 2001. (ICRAM-API, modified from Ingle et al., 2002).

SeabassProd (ton)2.8503.6003.8004.6005.8507.2008.1009.500
Price (€/kg)8,267,237,237,237,957,246,716,26
Sea breamProd (ton)1.8503.2003.6503.9005.5005.7006.0007.800
Price (€/kg)8,266,716,716,716,956,716,465,50
Sharpsnout seabreamProd (ton)--150200300350400400
Price (€/kg)--6,717,236,676,796,205,68
AnguillaProd (ton)3.0003.0003.0003.1003.1503.2002.7002.500
Price (€/kg)8,268,788,809,557,876,786,206,20
MulletsProd (ton)2.9003.0003.1002.9003.0003.0003.0003.000
Price (€/kg)3,103,103,103,623,623,443,363,36
TroutProd (ton)45.00050.00048.00051.00048.00044.00044.50044.000
Price (€/kg)1,811,811,812,072,803,043,132,94
CatfishProd (ton)1.800800400800700750550650
Price (€/kg)2,603,003,103,623,623,793,763,81
CarpsProd (ton)600600600700700700700700
Price (€/kg)2,402,502,583,103,103,103,103,10
SturgeonProd (ton)500500500500400450550700
Price (€/kg)5,005,005,166,206,206,206,206,20
Mussel*Prod (ton × 103)126.132.130130130130136135
Price (€/kg)0,520,520,520,520,570,570,590,59
Manila ClamsProd (ton × 103)4060404048505355
Price (€/kg)2,071,722,072,072,072,072,582,58

Euryhaline species are mostly marketed domestically and are usually consumed within Italy. A UNIMAR survey carried out in 2000 shows that 70% percent of farms prefer to sell through wholesalers, and 10% percent by the fish market, with peaks of 25% percent in the case of extensive farms which offer a high quality product that is probably highly appreciated. Only 28 farms out of 188 address foreign markets and only 6 of these exclusively. Organized large-scale distribution is used on average by 9% percent of the enterprises and never in the case of extensive productions. Direct consumer or restaurant sales are made by 5% percent of the enterprises. Transformation and added value is still used relatively rarely in the fish market.

Mussel production has been at a very high and stable level for over a decade. Production stability is reflected in the wholesale price which has increased only slightly (about 13% percent). The trend is different for the unit price of Manila clams which, after a long stationary period at around € 2.00/kilogramme has increased by nearly 30 percent over the past two years. The recent increase in clam prices is due to a renewed market appreciation of this mollusc in restaurants but also for home consumption, which increasingly turns to the large-scale distribution. Also a decisive influence is the growing role of Consortia in regulating the market supply. A small percentage of these enterprises do their own product packaging and marketing as they are equipped with cleansing centres. Over 90% percent of the remaining enterprises carry on exclusively the role of production and rely on external operators for their marketing needs.

The marketing of mussels deserves a separate treatment as, unlike other shellfish, they display comparatively high seasonal peaks. This is essentially the result of the often simultaneous and synergistic effect of several different factors (Rossi and Prioli, 2001): the farming technique used, the natural recruiting of fry, reproductive cycle progress and the product's organoleptic quality which varies as a function of the reproductive cycle. Consequently the majority of farms market their mussels in the period between May and September, while between November and February fewer farms market their products. Only in Veneto does the marketing season extend from March to September, while the regions with the shortest period are Campania and Emilia-Romagna, with the latter concentrating solely on the spring period. The primary outlet market is 56% percent domestic, while only farms located in Abruzzo, Emilia-Romagna, Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Marche address foreign markets directly.

According to EASTFISH statistics (2001), mussel importation in 1999 amounted to 34 478 tonnes. Consequently, Italy ranks second among the importing European countries following France and followed by Belgium and Germany (Rossi and Prioli, 2001). More than 34 percent of mussels are imported from Spain. Although there is no official data, the remaining 66 percent should be imported from Greece (40% percent), and from Ireland and Denmark (26% percent) (Rossi and Prioli, 2001).

According to the EASTFISH data, Italy exported 4 988 tonnes in 2001. A survey carried out by UNIMAR on a sample of a significant number of production enterprises estimated the exported quantity to about 11 11000 tonnes, mainly to the French and Spanish markets (Rossi and Prioli, 2001).

4.3 Certification

A targeted marketing policy has been devised to provide the specific qualitative characteristics of the national product. A recent initiative was taken by the API through the adoption of a voluntary “Code of good practice of aquaculture farming” to guarantee to the consumer the national origin of the product and the adoption of responsible practices by the farmers, as far as the use of drugs, animal meal, product traceability and animal welfare are concerned.

Processes of product qualification to guarantee food safety and quality to distinguish it on the market have been undertaken, in particular by trout and marine species producers. Quality assurance systems that certify the organizational and management efficiency of the enterprise have been adopted by several intensive marine fish production plants (ISO 9001:2000). EMAS aquaculture guidelines have recently been developed by ICRAM in collaboration with the National Environmental Protection Agency (ANPA) and provide farms with the necessary elements to understand the contents of the EMAS Regulations, thus facilitating their consistent application to the operating conditions of each individual farm. In this project three Italian farms were involved, and different production systems were certified. The EMAS objective is to promote the best management practices and to improve the transparency of productive processes that have an impact on the environment and the resource management. Obvious advantages derive both from the increased market competitiveness of the certified product and, in the case of any responsibility attributed to the enterprise, for harming the environment.

Pilot culture trials of seabass and seabream with organic methods were carried out in 2001/2002 as part of a national programme. An important contribution was thus made to establish specific EU regulations regarding aquaculture productions which should be introduced in the future .

5. Relationship with capture fisheries

The Three-year Aquaculture and Fisheries Plan has defined aquaculture in the broadest possible reference planning framework of the Italian fishery. Indeed, even if the intensive farming of aquatic species has many points in common with land animal raising, strong links still remain with the world of fisheries and the national planning of aquaculture and fisheries are thus considered jointly. The interactions between aquaculture and fisheries are more obvious for the activities taking place in coastal areas where they both share environment and resources. They have been considered at the administrative level when negative effects and local emergencies arise, but an integrated evaluation of the interactions between aquaculture and fisheries in which these elements can be considered as a whole is still lacking. Concrete initiatives regarding plans for the integrated coastal zone management, which include aquaculture and fisheries activities, have only recently been taken at the regional level, for example in the case of Emilia Romagna.

With reference to five arbitrary categories of aquaculture and fisheries interactions and to the conditions prevailing at the national level, the following examples are listed.:

5.1 Environmental interactions

-   Aquaculture activity as a tool for the conservation of biological resources for fishing activities;

An important example is extensive aquaculture in the Adriatic area, such as “valliculture” and productive lagoon management, and its strategic role in the conservation of sensitive coastal lagoon areas, ecosystems and thus biological resources for fishing activities.

-   Aquaculture activity as a source of environmental pollution;

The intensification of production in the land-based units has led to conflicts, particularly in sensitive areas. An evident example is fish farming in the Orbetello Lagoon, where large-scale aquaculture activities are carried out together with lagoon fishing and tourism. Although it has been shown that aquaculture production units operate within the limits set by Law 152/99 regarding discharge into the environment, a finger has been pointed at aquaculture enterprises as being responsible for eutrophication of the lagoon and for the strong decrease in fish catch.

In the case of cage farms in protected areas, the release of nutrients from aquaculture production are considered responsible for eutrophization and pollution, which may have effects on the environment, ecosystems and fishery resources. In actual fact, the research implemented as part of the Fifth National Plan has shown that rearing cages are point-sized sources of environmental impact and that the ecological effects due to nutrient release are limited in the area under the cages

-   Shared space with other coastal users;

Intensive fish farming of marine species in sea cages requires space in coastal areas that are also sought for other activities, including fishing and tourism.

5.2 Ecological interactions

-   Spreading of pathogens and parasites to wild species by farmed species;

The farming of marine species may be a cause for the introduction and spreading of pathogens, which also affect the fishery resources. Examples are the Nodavirus and the Pasteurella spp.,which were imported with aquaculture products in the Northern Adriatic and have spread to wild fish populations, especially seabass, seabream, sole and flathead. There is also some evidence that ecto- and endo-parasites of marine fish reared in cages are transferred to associated fauna.

-   Risk of ecological and genetic impact on the natural populations as a result of farmed fish escapees

The escape of farmed fish from the sea-based facilities is hard to quantify. However it is not a rare occurrence judging by the requests made by the national Fishery Solidarity Fund to the MiPA (Law 72/92) regarding cages damaged by adverse weather conditions. Fish escapees may represent an ecological potential danger to fishery resources. However, these effects still have to be demonstrated, in particular those of a genetic type tending to reduce biodiversity, at least as far as the aquaculture species cultured in Italy are concerned.

5.3 Social interactions

-   Aquaculture as an opportunity for the reconversion of fishermen

Aquaculture in lagoon areas has provided good opportunities for reconversion. One example is the introduction of the Manila clam (Tapes philippinarum), in the Upper Adriatic coastal environments, which has adapted to the local conditions and has become a resource which has revolutionized the productive configuration of the Northern Adriatic lagoon areas, with important social implications.

Tune farming will also ultimately become an important opportunity for the reconversion of fishermen. The involvement of fishermen in this type of aquaculture is essential in order to begin a process of domesticity which can offer opportunities for reconversion. It is possible that in the case of the tuna there are now more concrete opportunities for reconversion than there were several years ago in mariculture activities, which never materialized..

5.4. Productive interactions

-   Active restocking and sea ranching;

The acquisition of controlled reproduction techniques for several farmed species, including threatened species such as the shi drum and the dusky grouper, provides an opportunity for active repopulation. By combining together fish farming and traditional fishery experiences, restocking can lead to interesting returns, when the conditions are suitable and a responsible approach is adopted. The experience acquired in MiPA-funded research has revealed the productive potential of restocking intervention in protected areas by artificial barriers and a positive effect on recruitment of important commercial species.

-   Use of natural resources for aquaculture production;

As in the case of extensive aquaculture, which currently uses wild fry for restocking, at least as in the case of grey mullet, eels, tuna and shellfish.

5.5 Market interactions

The increase in aquaculture production in Italy (which now accounts for more than 40 percent of the output in the sector) determines the nature of fish supply offered to the market as well as prices for marine species. The relatively recent EU directive in labelling fish products (1 January 2002) allows a distinction to be made between the farmed and the fishery product, which generally enjoys a better market price. However, domestic consumption of fish products is increasingly focused on hyper- and supermarkets, which has an effect on fish product prices (ISMEA, 2003).

6. References and web addresses

ANPA/ICRAM (2002). Linee Guida per l'applicazione del regolamento EMAS all'acquacoltura. Manuali e guide 15/2002. Ministero dell'Ambiente, ANPA, Roma

Cataudella S. & P. Bronzi (Eds.) (2002) Acquacoltura responsabile (2002)., Unimar-Uniprom, Roma

Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche. La gestione della pesca marittima in Italia, Fondamenti tecnico biologici e normativa vigente., Roma, 2001.

ENEA., (2001). Agenda 21 Italia. Accordo di Programma Ministero dell'Ambiente - Enea. Nuovo Piano Nazionale per lo Sviluppo Sostenibile.

EUROSTAT. (2002) Fisheries Yearbook 2002 - Data 1992–2001 - Lussemburgo 2002.

FAO. Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. Roma, 1995.

FAO Fisheries Department. (1997) Aquaculture development. FAO Technical Guidelines for Responsible Fisheries. No. 5. Rome, FAO. 1997. 40p.

FAO 2002. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture, Roma, 2002.

GESAMP. Reducing environmental impacts of coastal aquaculture. GESAMP Reports and Studies-47: 35 pp.

Ingle, E. et al. (2002) Realizzazione di una banca dati sull'acquacoltura in Italia: prosecuzione del rilevamento sistematico dello stato di diffusione della tecnologia e dei dati di produzione nel settore dell'acquacoltura e della maricoltura. Report 4C32, prepared for the Ministero delle Politiche Agricole e Forestali, 2002.

ICRAM. (2002) Linee guida per la maricoltura, Roma , 2002.

IREPA. (2000) Osservatorio economico sulle strutture produttive della pesca marittima in Italia 2000, Franco Angeli ed., Milano, 2002.

ISMEA. (2001) Filiera Pesca e Acquacoltura, Roma, aprile 2001.

ISMEA. (2001) Filiera Pesca e Acquacoltura, Roma, settembre 2002.

ISMEA. (2001) Filiera Pesca e Acquacoltura, Roma, aprile 2003.

ISMEA. (2002) Rapporto annuale 2002, volume 1 e 2, Roma, ottobre 2002.

Ministero delle Politiche Agricole e Forestali. VI Piano Triennale della Pesca e dell'Aquacoltura. G.U. n. 172 del 25/07/2000.

NACA/FAO (2000) Aquaculture Development Beyond 2000. The Bangkok Declaration and Strategy. FAO, Roma

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Rossi, R. et al. (2000). Elementi di valutazione ecologica, economica e sociale per fronteggiare la flessione produttiva di vongole filippine nell'Alto Adriatico. Report C502, prepared for the Ministry of Agricolture and Forestry, Italy.

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