Acuicultura en España

Aquaculture in Spain: production, innovation and sustainability

With climate change, marine biodiversity is under pressure. In this context, Spain is responding by becoming a leader in marine aquaculture and taking up the challenge to conserve the oceans. Spain’s commitment to aquaculture is intertwined with the goals of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which emphasises the importance of conserving and sustainably using the oceans. In a global scenario where fish consumption is constantly increasing and fish stocks are overexploited, aquaculture is presented not only as an alternative, but also as an opportunity that is becoming a necessity, combining economic and environmental benefits.

Species and aquaculture in Spain

The diversity of species farmed, from sea bream and sea bass to bluefin tuna, turbot and mussels, tells a success story. The latest data on marine aquaculture production (2022) shows a commercialisation of 326,520 tonnes, 12% more than the previous year. Regions such as the Valencian Community, Andalusia and Galicia stand out as leaders in marine fish production, followed by the Region of Murcia, the Canary Islands and Catalonia.

Mussels are the most important species, with an annual production of 255,000 tonnes. Sea bass and bluefin tuna share the podium of marine production with 23,000 and 11,000 tonnes respectively. It should be noted that bluefin tuna is a key species for research into both fattening and integral farming. This involves studying the entire life cycle of the species, from reproduction in captivity to growth and marketing. Spain is at the forefront of this research, developing advanced technologies and practices that allow the successful farming of this species under controlled conditions.

Finally, it is worth highlighting the production of sea bream, led by the Community of Valencia, accompanied by significant growth in the farming of turbot and corvina. These crops show that the objectives of Spanish aquaculture have been more than achieved, resulting in socio-economic success. With more than 5,000 farms, this activity directly employs more than 18,000 people, a figure that rises to 46,000 when indirect employment is taken into account.

Research and promotion of aquaculture in Spain

Despite technological advances, consumers are reluctant to fill their shopping baskets with farmed fish due to concerns about the sustainability of the product and/or the relative transparency of the supply chain. In this context, research and promotion of Spanish aquaculture are essential tools to provide information on both the nutritional value and the environmental sustainability of aquaculture products, in order to make the consumer a conscious and responsible actor.

Spain is making significant progress in animal welfare, technological improvements and answers to fundamental questions about the biology of farmed species through its innovation and sustainability projects, integrated in the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan. The commitment of Spanish marine science is reflected in the more than 150 scientific articles published annually in recent years, consolidating the country as a world power in aquaculture research.

Nutrition with flavour

Farmed marine species, from the highly prized bluefin tuna with its high omega-3 content, to white fish such as turbot, sea bream and sea bass with their highly digestible protein, or vitamin-rich mussels, offer a high profile of essential nutrients. Macroalgae should also be mentioned in the panorama of cultivated species, whose cultivation, although still anecdotal in our country, plays a crucial role in carbon absorption and improving water quality. Large marine algae also have excellent nutritional, organoleptic, therapeutic and dietetic properties. The species currently cultivated are sugar kombu, sea lettuce and ogonori, which are mainly grown in Galicia and Andalusia.

In general, the application of advanced technologies and the adoption of good practices in aquaculture activities ensure that the quality and nutritional value of the products are comparable to those of wild species. In addition, there is the significant advantage of having detailed traceability for each product, together with an affordable cost. These features ensure not only excellent nutritional standards, but also availability to a wider spectrum of the population, including those who do not have direct access to the sea.

Aquaculture in Spain is not just another activity in the blue economy; it is an essential pillar that is emerging to feed the population in a responsible way, guaranteeing food security and promoting economic prosperity, thanks to a continuous supply of healthy and nutritious food and a commitment to sustainable change that guarantees the well-being of future generations and the planet.



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