Marine aquaculture has shown a large expansion in production in a number of Mediterranean countries over the past few decades. It provides an important source of high quality food and could be considered to be an important management tool to limit pressure on wild fish stocks which are heavily stressed due to over-fishing and pollution in coastal areas.
The interactions between aquaculture and the environment are numerous and they depend on the sensitivity of the ecosystem where it is implemented, on culture system, and on species. As a result of these interactions and of the growing public concern of environmental problems, the choice of sites for the aquaculture operations become very important.
"Aquaculture is called upon to play a major role for food security, employment and economic development in the Mediterranean. This strategic sector offers great potential to provide sources of healthy and nutritious seafood and meet the rising demand for fishery products while delivering social and economic benefits to coastal communities. Since its early years of activities, the GFCM, partner of the UNEP/MAP has been supporting the sustainable development of aquaculture and the responsible management of marine, brackish and inland aquaculture, in a way that is consistent with an ecosystem approach and that takes into account the specific regional, subregional and local characteristics."