The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United nations (FAO) (1988) defines Aquaculture as:

“Aquaculture is the farming of aquatic organisms, including fish, molluscs, crustaceans and aquatic plants".

Farming implies some form of intervention in the rearing process to enhance production, such as regular stocking, feeding, protection from predators, etc. Farming also implies individual or corporate ownership of the stock being cultivated. For statistical purposes, aquatic organisms which are harvested by an individual or corporate body which has owned them throughout their rearing period contribute to aquaculture, while aquatic organisms which are exploitable by the public as a common property resources, with or without appropriate licences, are the harvest of fisheries.” Mariculture is a specific branch of aquaculture which solely occurs in marine environments such as estuaries, intertidally, subtidally, and offshore.

Both aquaculture and mariculture have seen substantial booms over the past few decades with over 19 million people employed in aquaculture worldwide in 2016. In the UK alone during 2014 the aquaculture industry was estimated to provide around 8000 jobs creating an annual turnover of £1.4  billion.

Mariculture plays an important role within D&S IFCA’s District. A diverse range of marine species are farmed and harvested from across the District by many different companies and individuals deploying a wide range of fishing methods and gear.

This ranges from cultivateing oysters on static estuarine trestles, to harvesting managed subtidal mussel beds using marine elevators, and growing mussels on offshore long lines.

The most important mariculture group within the district is shellfish, mussels (Mytilus edulis) being the most populous species farmed, followed by pacific oysters (Magallana gigas).  

As outlined in the Authority’s 2020-21 Annual Plan, D&S IFCA is committed to helping ensure that mariculture is developed sustainably within its District for the benefit of local businesses and ecosystems. It is actively engaged in national level projects like EUROHAB which aid in the detection of harmful algal blooms for the aid of shellfish farms.

It is also involved at a local level creating mariculture opportunities through the leasing of shellfish harvesting sites in the Dart Estuary though the Waddeton Regulating Order 2001. Furthermore D&S IFCA is also developing a Mariculture Strategy which will benefit potential mariculture developers within the District.

Page reviewed: 3rd July 2020

More Information

D&S IFCA's Mariculture Strategy

Mariculture within D&S IFCA's District