Aquaculture production

The "Aquaculture production" fact sheet informs on the evolution of the national production of aquatic food products by species and by type of production system.


Aquaculture plays an increasingly important role in the global production of food of aquatic origin, due to over-exploitation of a large part of the fish stocks. It is globally affirming itself as an important alternative to the traditional forms of fish supply, and it should be pointed out that its production exceeds more than half of all the fish consumed in the world, which is why it is now considered a strategic sector.

The Directorate-General for Natural Resources, Safety and Maritime Services (DGRM) defines aquaculture as the creation or cultivation of aquatic organisms using techniques designed to increase the production of these organisms beyond the natural capacity of the environment.

The practice of aquaculture is based on three production regimes - the extensive regime, the semi-intensive regime and the intensive regime:

  • The extensive production regime makes exclusive use of the available natural conditions. In this regime, the species to be cultivated is captured in the natural environment or originates from breeding units. In this regime, the production is made using exclusively natural food;
  • In the semi-intensive production regime artificial reproduction is used to obtain eggs and juveniles, and during the fattening phase frequent samplings and calibrations are performed to optimize growth and increase yield using natural food and supplements artificial food;
  • In the intensive system, all the parameters of production are under permanent observation. In order to increase the yield, successive calibrations and samplings are used, controlling reproduction and growth. In this regime, the species is fed exclusively artificial food.

According to the Strategic Plan for Portuguese Aquaculture (2014-2020), despite the relative abundance of water resources in Portugal, especially in marine waters, including transitional, the growth rates of the sector are limited by the technical and/or natural conditions of use of the available resources, the available spaces of cultivation and the availability of financing. This growth is also affected by the estimated increase in costs, notably energy and feed. However, in the coming years, technological development could make it possible, on the one hand, to make use of previously untapped spaces and water resources and, on the other hand, to achieve efficiency gains in the use of intermediate consumption.

This fact sheet concerns mainland Portugal and shall be updated annually.

Objectives and targets: 
  • The National Strategy for the Sea (2013-2020) identifies aquaculture as one of five strategic areas for intervention to achieve "blue growth";
  • The Strategic Plan for Portuguese Aquaculture (2014-2020) provides a number of targets for the sector, with the expectation of, with the support of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), reaching by 2023, end of the 2014-2020 programming period, an increase of 25,000 tonnes in the national production capacity.


Progress analysis:

The European Union hasn't been following the worldwide trend of growing aquaculture production. The EU's overall production has remained relatively constant in terms of volume since 2000, while world production has been increasing almost 7% annually.

Last update: 
Friday, 31 May, 2019