EUROPEAN fish farming companies have seen their profits double between 2014 and 2016, according to the latest EU economic report on the aquaculture sector. And Britain remains one of the largest players in the business.
In 2016, the EU aquaculture sector produced and sold 1.4 million tonnes of seafood, worth almost €5 billion.
Employment figures demonstrated that aquaculture firms provided more stable employment opportunities, marking a strong recovery from 2013 in most of the large aquaculture producing countries.
The EU is currently home to some 12,500 aquaculture enterprises, mostly micro-businesses employing less than 10 employees.
Employment has remained stable in terms of total employees (73,000) but has significantly expanded in terms of full-time equivalents: from 36,000 in 2013 to almost 44,000 in 2016.
The report said this positive trend is likely to continue, with investment being significantly higher than any depreciation, adding that the sector has a positive perception about its future development.
The EU aquaculture sector distinguishes three subsectors: marine, shellfish and freshwater production. With €2,731 million in turnover, marine aquaculture (mainly salmon and trout) is by far the largest, followed by shellfish (€1,134 million) and freshwater (€1,028 million) production.
The report also said production is dominated by five countries: the UK, France, Greece, Italy and Spain. These countries account for roughly 75 per cent of total production volume.
In the marine sector, the UK is the main producer of salmon (91 per cent of total value), whereas Greece is the main producer of sea bream and sea bass (47 per cent of total value).
In the shellfish sector, France produces 86 per cent of the oysters while Spain leads on mussels, covering 45 per cent of the volume.
The report adds that the potential impact of Brexit remains unknown.