Aquaculture is essentially an economic development within small and medium sized enterprises that has grown substantially in most European Union (EU) countries over recent years. This development has been particularly evident in e.g. Scotland, and Ireland [salmon (Salmo salar)], the Mediterranean [sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) and sea bream (Sparus aurata), together with shellfish] and Ireland, Greece, Spain and France [mussel (Mytilus edulis) farming by line or raft] (Read et al.,2000). This trend has paralleled a general decline in catchable wild fish stocks and an increase in consumer demand for fin and shellfish resources (FAO, 1999). Aquaculture therefore provides opportunities to reduce the dependence on wild stocks, to meet increased consumer demand, and to alleviate the economic impact of wild stock decline on coastal communities through the creation of new jobs and businesses (FAO, 1999; MacAlister Elliot and Partners, 1999).The competitive use of coastal resources has highlighted the importance of satisfactory control measures to protect the natural environment and to safeguard the developing aquaculture industry. In order to achieve sustainable development of the aquaculture sector, several countries introduced regulatory, control and monitoring measures, often without considering the relevanceof such measures for the safeguard of the natural environment. Several organisations havedocumented this situation in several parts of the world and have also recommended proceduresto minimise ecological impacts (e.g. FAR, 1993).
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