Potential for marine aquaculture development in and around Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in England


  • Food fish production from aquaculture (82 million tonnes, US$250 billion per year) now exceeds that from marine capture fisheries, many of which have reached maximum sustainable yields.
  • Aquaculture is the fastest-growing food production sector globally (currently >5% per year), but continued rapid growth is needed to meet rising global demands for human dietary protein.
  • Marine aquaculture can contribute substantially to sustainable ‘blue’ growth in the EU and the UK.
  • Marine aquaculture in England (predominantly shellfish) currently occupies less than 0.5% of the country’s territorial coastal waters (12 nautical mile limit), compared with 50% occupied by Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and with limited restriction of fishing activities (e.g. bottom trawls in MPAs).
  • Around 50 (>70%) of existing marine aquaculture sites in England are located in MPAs, but licencing of new aquaculture sites within these areas currently adopts a highly precautionary approach.
  • Evidence-based policy and decision support tools are urgently needed to support the sustainable management of marine resources and competing uses in England’s coastal waters.
  • Allocated Zones for Aquaculture are used widely in Europe to facilitate sustainable development and a similar approach could be implemented in England by adapting existing domestic policies and tools for fisheries management and conservation.

Summary of initial findings of a report on ‘Evidence-based policy for mariculture development in and around Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in England’ (Brown et al., 2020).

Read the full briefing
Policy Brief
Published: September 2020
Andrew Ross Brown, Carly Daniels, Charles R. Tyler (Sustainable Aquaculture Futures, Biosciences, Geoffrey Pope Building, Stocker Road, Exeter, EX4 4QD)
Keith Jeffrey (Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, The Nothe, Barrack Road, Weymouth, Dorset DT4 8UB)
This briefing summarises a report to Research England in September 2020
Brown AR, Daniels C, Jeffery K, Tyler CR (2020). Potential for marine aquaculture development in and around Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in England. Policy Brief. 13pp
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