Coordinating Working Party on Fishery Statistics (CWP)

Aquaculture production

Aquaculture production core variables

The core variables identified for aquaculture are restricted to only two items as they are the most widely available. The core variables to be collected are:

  • Gross value of production
  • Employment

Gross value of production

The gross value of the production is normally collected together with production quantity statistics and the value is optimally collected at the farm-gate level (IMF 2014), that is, the value per unit (price) of the product at first sale, excluding any separately billed transport or delivery charge. It includes the sale on the market of production supplied to third parties, plus all duties and taxes invoiced. In order to establish the link to the production quantity these data should preferably be broken down by the same variables as the production data (segment, species, area, year, etc.).

Note that it is recommended that the basic economic variables be recorded in national currencies. In the case that reporting is made in USD (or another non-national currency) the exchange rate, source and date should be included in the metadata to ensure consistency. The suggested exchange rate source is FAO (refer currencies and funds).


Employment in aquaculture should be collected in sex-disaggregated form. Where possible, a breakdown by the type of activity by classification should be included with the employment data which should include all people working on fish farms, hatcheries, and employed in shellfish culture operations.

Classification of occupations - To define employment for aquaculture farmers, the ISCO classification can be used.

Time-use definition – can be made either by full-time equivalent (FTE) or following the FAO FM questionnaire standard. For some purposes, the conversion of the employment data as FTE may be useful. Some experience exists in the collation of FTE data in Europe (Sabatella, 2016). However, in many situations it is the actual number of people engaged that is relevant and aquaculture can be subject to strong seasonal variation in employment based on the characteristics of the aquaculture sector.

Full-time equivalent (FTE) - FTE national should be calculated using a national reference level defined according to the features of the aquaculture sector, often 2000 hours annually. If the annual working hours per fish farmer is equal to or greater than the reference level, the FTE equals 1 per fish farmer, i.e.

  • if annual working hours ≥ national reference level, then FTE national = 1

If the annual working hours per fish farmer is below the reference level, the FTE per fish farmer is the fraction (annual working hours)/(national reference level), i.e.

  • if annual working hours < national reference level, then FTE national = (annual working hours)/(national reference level).

Aquaculture production additional variables

The additional variables allow for the calculation of total revenue and total costs for the aquaculture operations. This allows derivation of the economic profitability of the aquaculture sector which is judged from information on the net revenue (net revenue= total revenue – total costs) of the sector. For management and sustainable development purposes, it is also important to collect information on the raw material volume inputs into aquaculture production, i.e. the weight and value of the raw material (EU 2016). This could be further supplemented with detail on inputs including: water; fertilizer; antibacterial agents and energy consumption to consider environmental impacts. The sectoral characteristics can be summarized by the calculation of capital value and lastly, the salary of the fish farmers engaged in the activity provides a tangible measure of the contribution to livelihoods from this activity and is measured through remuneration.

Total revenue

The variable group of total revenue is composed by several variables.

  1. Gross sales of the aquaculture production part of the core variables (refer above).
  2. Direct subsidies - including direct payments; excluding social benefit payments and indirect subsidies e.g. reduced duty on inputs such as fuel or investment subsidies.
  3. Other revenue e.g. from recreational fishing in ponds, tourism, etc. and also including insurance payments.

Total costs

The variable group of total costs is composed by several variables. Cost data can be obtained from the financial records of the aquaculture operation or enterprises and these data are mostly difficult to obtain. Even when such data are available, they are often protected by various access restrictions based on confidentiality needs.  Data collection through surveys is recommended, overall and this sidesteps issues of data confidentiality. 

  1. Personnel costs - Paid labor (including social security costs) of the fish farmers and an estimated value of unpaid labor.
  2. Variable costs - for aquaculture including: energy costs; other operational costs; commercial costs, repair and maintenance costs energy, seed, feed, repair and maintenance, packaging costs, etc.
  3. Extraordinary costs – extraordinary, unexpected costs (e.g. EU map variables).
  4. Fixed costs – include items such as license or permit renewals; leases; bank or accounting costs; building or farm insurance, etc.
  5. Investments are the improvements made to the operation or aquaculture equipment that aims to improve the longevity of the assets but are not consumed within the given year. In other words, these are items that are not consumed in the course of one year.
  6. Capital costs – the consumption of fixed capital.

Capital value

Capital value includes two key components: the value of physical capital (depreciation or historical value) and the non-tangible assets.


Remuneration provides an important and clear estimation of the contribution to livelihood gained from employment in the sector. The total remuneration includes social security costs for all employees including the owner. This is often the same value as that reflected on the official payslips and the value may be collected in the same manner as for personnel costs.


International Monetary Fund (IMF). 2004. Producer Price Index Manual: Theory and Practice. 688 pp. (also available at

Sabatella, E.C. 2016. Methodologies for the socio-economic data described in EU MAP. Ad hoc contract Commitment No. SI2 725 694. Ref. Ares (2016)2440332 - 26/05/2016. 34 pp. (also available at

Resources for capture fisheries

European Union. EU Aquaculture sector EU-MAP variables. [Cited 1 November 2020].