At the global scale, aquaculture accounts for nearly 50 percent of the world's food fish and is a fast growing sector in order to meet the increasing market demand for aquatic products, both for food and for cosmetics and therapies. Aquaculture in European seas mainly involves shellfish (oysters, mussels, clams) and fish (seabream, seabass, cod, salmon), and to a lesser extent crustaceans, algae and other taxa. Native as well as non-native species (e.g. japanese oyster, manila clam, japanese tiger prawn) are farmed in European facilities, which are often located in sheltered environments such as coastal lagoons.
Aquaculture can be the cause of, but can also be affected by ecological changes. On one hand, fish cage culture and shellfish farming can cause changes in nutrient fluxes and may introduce non-indigenous species, parasites and diseases into a natural environment. On the other hand, aquaculture operations can also be impacted by ecological changes such as climate change, eutrophication, pollution, acidification, and biopollution (non-indigenous accompanying species, parasites and diseases).
VECTORS results are of help in raising the awareness of aquaculture as a pathway of introduction and spread of non-indigenous species in Europe, thus identifying priorities for management and prevention.
Furthermore, VECTORS has investigated effects of anthropogenic pollution on coastal lagoons, highlighting the sustainable use of these highly valuable spatial resources, also taking into account scenarios of global change impacting the coastal zone.