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Sustainable Fishing and Aquaculture Activities in the Atlantic Coast of the Portuguese North Region: Multi-Stakeholder Views as a Tool for Maritime Spatial Planning

Sustainability, volume 13

Abstract:

The experienced view of stakeholders is a very valuable tool to build inclusive and reliable maritime spatial planning (MSP). Within this context, the present work assesses the potential and limitations for a further sustainable development of fishing and aquaculture activities, considering the Portuguese North Region as case study. The official strategies and legal framework drafted by Portugal in MSP issues were initially reviewed, with the corresponding management objectives identified. Official statistical data were used to show the current situation of regional fishery and aquaculture, while the perceptions of involved groups were collected by a methodology based in a multi-stakeholder survey and subsequent workshop. Taking into account the regional circumstances defined by a decreased fishing production (decline of 45.9% during the period of 2012–2019) and scarce aquaculture weight (≤1% in terms of national production in 2018), the stakeholders brought to light great difficulties on the part of public administration to implement official management objectives. The stakeholders also considered that conflicts between maritime activities are almost inexistent at present, even though they predicted future disagreements when new players intend to use maritime space. A positive response about a successful future for aquaculture was obtained from every group surveyed, although the specialized stakeholders pointed out severe limitations for a further development of both off-shore and extensive coastal aquaculture modalities. In conclusion, it seems evident there is the need for a fluent collaboration with the regional fishing stakeholder, particularly promoting synergies involving small scale fleets, in order to avoid future potential conflicts. Against the challenges and limitations posed by the aquaculture industry, promoting the intensive cultivation of high commercial value fish and new interest local species, when conducted under sustainable practices that add value to the harvested product, would be an interesting strategy to implement in our case study.

Country:
Application in MSP:
Type of Issue:
Type of practice:
Stage of MSP cycle:
Cross-border / trans-national aspect:
No
Coherence with other processes:
Key words:

Questions this practice may help answer:

  • What are the main difficulties arising in the development of sustainable aquaculture in Portugal?
  • How can aquaculture development be stimulated in synergy with fisheries?
  • How can aquaculture-oriented political objectives be put into practice?

Implementation Context:

This research was carried out in the scope of the EU COFASP project entitled “ECOAST- New methodologies for an ecosystem approach to spatial and temporal management of fisheries and aquaculture in coastal areas”.

Aspects / Objectives:

The study aims to assess the potentials and limitations for further sustainable development of fishing and aquaculture activities, considering the Portuguese North Region as a case study.

Method:

The official strategies and legal framework drafted in MSP issues by Portugal were initially reviewed, with the corresponding management objectives identified. Official statistical data were used to show the current situation of regional fisheries and aquaculture, while the perceptions of involved groups were collected using a methodology based in a multi-stakeholder survey and subsequent workshop.

Main Outputs / Results:

The study points at the difficulties for public administrations to implement official management objectives, as well as probable future disagreements between maritime activities. It stresses the potential for a successful aquaculture in the future, while considering limitations for the further development of both offshore and extensive coastal aquaculture modalities. The study concludes on the need for a smooth collaboration with the regional fishing stakeholders, particularly promoting synergies involving small scale fleets, to avoid future potential conflicts.

Transferability:

Although most of the study applies specifically to Portugal, some findings and recommendations may prove transferable to other areas where aquaculture development suffers from similar issues.

Responsible Entity:

Laboratory of Ecotoxicology and Ecology, Department of Population Studies, ICBAS-UP—Institute of Biomedical Sciences of Abel Salazar, University of Porto, 4050-313 Porto, Portugal.

Costs / Funding Source:

The Portuguese component of the project was funded by “Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, I.P.” (national funds, “Orçamento do Estado” reference COFASP/0001/2015). E. Salas-Leiton and L.R. Vieira had post-doc fellowships in the scope of the project. The APC was funded by the Laboratory of Ecotoxicology and Ecology, Department of Population Studies, ICBAS-UP.

Contact person:

Emilio Salas-Leiton

ealeitonaticbas.up.pt (ealeiton[at]icbas[dot]up[dot]pt)

Laboratory of Ecotoxicology and Ecology, Department of Population Studies, ICBAS-UP—Institute of Biomedical Sciences of Abel Salazar, University of Porto, 4050-313 Porto, Portugal.