AquaSpace case study final reports


The AquaSpace deliverable “Case study final reports” provides a detailed overview of the 17 case studies developed by the project to test tools and strategies for the sustainable development and spatial allocation of aquaculture in a variety of environmental and socio-economic contexts. Main specificities of each case study are highlighted, together with the related management and planning issues identified. The document also illustrates the results obtained through tools application in each case study and the adopted strategy for stakeholder engagement.

Application in MSP: 
Unknown effect
Type of Issue: 
Economic aspects
Ecosystem-based approach
Environment aspects
Type of practice: 
Stage of MSP cycle: 
Analyse spatial aspects
Cross-border / trans-national aspect: 

Questions this practice may help answer

  • Which are the main issues and possible conflicts affecting the expansion of different typologies of aquaculture in different socio-economic and environmental contexts?
  • What are the tools that can be applied for the spatial allocation of different types of aquaculture in such diverse contexts?
  • What are the main challenges and possible strategies for stakeholders’ engagement in a planning process involving the allocation of sustainable aquaculture?

Implementation Context

The deliverable “Case study final reports” was developed within the EU Horizon 2020 project AquaSpace. The project aimed to provide increased space of high water quality for aquaculture by adopting an Ecosystem Approach to Aquaculture (EAA) to support MSP and to deliver food security and increased employment opportunities through economic growth. EAA was defined by FAO as a strategy for the integration of aquaculture within the wider ecosystem in such a way that it promotes sustainable development, equity, and resilience of interlinked social and ecological systems. In this context, AquaSpace reviewed and developed tools for aquaculture area management and marine spatial planning which were applied to a variety of case studies.

Aspects / Objectives 

This AquaSpace report describes the analysis implemented in the project case studies. In particular, it provides information on the strategies applied and the main challenges encountered when dealing with spatial allocation of aquaculture as well as the adopted process of stakeholders engagement. The report also highlights the different aquaculture typologies and environmental and socio-economic contexts approached in each case study.


A total of 17 aquaculture case studies were developed by the AquaSpace project. Each of them explores different concepts of aquaculture in different environments, ranging from tropical to temperate. One case focuses on freshwater whereas the remaining 16 provide highly diverse examples of marine aquacultures, including finfish, shellfish, seaweed and different combinations of these. For the majority of case studies, aquaculture is operational and ranges from large scale industry to small scale local farming. Some cases describe plans for developing commercial aquaculture from an existing experimental scale. The spatial planning tools identified and evaluated by the Aquaspace project were tested in the case studies. In some cases tools were used to support co-use of marine space. More information on considered tools are available on other two practices developed by Aquaspace deliverables: (i) Tools and methods supporting EAA: finding the gap towards an environmental Cost Benefit Analysis; (ii) Synthesis of the lessons learned from the development and testing of innovative tools to support ecosystem-based spatial planning to aquaculture.

Main Outputs / Results

The 17 case studies examined are: Adriatic Sea (Italy), Algarve Coast (Portugal), Basque County (Spain), Békés County (Hungary), Carlingford Lough (UK), Great Bay Piscataqua and Long Island Sound (USA), Houtman Abrolhos Islands (Australia), Mediterranean Sea, Normandy and Cancale (France), North Sea (Germany), Norwegian Coast (Norway), Nova Scotia Bays (Canada), Zhangzidao Island and Sangou Bay (China), Argyll and Bute (UK), Pelorus Sound, Marlborough (New Zealand).

The Aquaspace report provides the following information for each of the 17 case studies: characteristics of the study region and its aquaculture, spatial planning and management issues, tools used, stakeholder engagement, case study results, relevance of the case study within AquaSpace, conclusions and prospects. Cross-case studies summary tables are also available in the corresponding annexes to the reports.

To illustrate the above, and as an example, some results of the Adriatic Sea (Italy) case study are summarized below. This case study investigated how the implementation of MSP could facilitate the expansion of offshore mussel culture in the region, with a focus on the Emilia-Romagna coastal area. Shellfish farming, typically located in the Adriatic Sea between 3 and 12nm from the shore, was selected among the aquaculture types for its great importance in the case study area.

Accidental release of plastic socks used to contain and dispose mussels in offshore long-lines was identified as the main environmental impact, of this form of aquaculture. Conflict with the intense touristic activity characterising the case study coastal area is considered relatively low, while potential conflicts with fishery, navigation and nature protection are mentioned. An inventory of sea uses which can limit the expansion of mussel culture in the area, in particular between 3 and 12nm from the shore was developed; these includes: ports activity, biological conservation zones and Natura 2000 sites, mooring areas, commercial and tourist marine traffic routes, Italian navy installations, seabed mining areas (for sand) and underwater pipes. Results of this initial analysis were taken into account in the application of the "Bluefarm 2" tool that enabled identifying most suitable areas for aquaculture development. Outcome of the tool application were summarised in maps.

As for all AquaSpace case studies, stakeholder engagement was an essential component of the analysis and included the following steps: 

  1. Initial workshop to present the AquaSpace project, discuss stakeholder opinions and gather information on their requirements;
  2. Establishment of contact with regulators operating in the case study area and in the surrounding Italian Adriatic coastal zones;
  3. Presentation of the results of the spatial analysis performed with the “Bluefarm 2" tool to regulators and collection of related feedback to fine tune case study results;
  4. Presentation of the final case study results to scientists, aquaculture farmers and consultants.


The AquaSpace report on case studies are meant to provide useful information to support the identification of appropriate approaches  for spatial allocation of different types of sustainable aquaculture (i.e. finfish, shellfish, etc.) in a variety of environmental and socio-economic contexts. The performed analysis can be further updated with new case studies, eventually considering the use of other tools designed for spatial allocation of aquaculture.

Contact Person

Report main authors:

Øivind Strand and Øivind Bergh

IMR - Institute of Marine Research (Norway)



For AquaSpace Project:

Paul Tett

AquaSpace coordinator

Scottish Association for Marine Science


Responsible Entity 

IMR - Institute of Marine Research (Norway)

Costs / Funding Source

The report was developed within the Horizon 2020 AquaSpace Project, Horizon 2020 grant no. 633476.