Complying with the EU’s Blue Growth Ambition, SAPHIRE focuses on growth potential of the European aquaculture by delivering a regulatory framework for carrying capacity and ecosystem services that will be the one-stop resource of choice for policy-makers, regulators, industry and society. This allows national administrations to assess environmental impact (EIA) with pre-set and easily available tools thereby reducing the cost and time for EIA, resulting in a positive impact on time to market with respect to licensing procedures. The framework improves the degree of certainty within the industry and hence generates a positive impact on facilitating investments. Industry trust and social acceptance will improve through demonstration and quantification of the positive externalities provided by aquaculture (services). SAPHIRE stimulates expansion of European aquaculture while consolidating good environmental status. The key SAPHIRE deliverable is an integrated toolbox of best practice, management guidance together with forecasting models, indicators, thresholds and protocols, tested and designed for implementation of an ecosystem approach to aquaculture development in Europe. We construct a decision-support system providing integrated tools and risk-based analysis of ecosystem carrying capacity. Transdisciplinary and co-production with local stakeholders are key components to ensure relevance and increase social acceptance.

We test and apply tools and thresholds using a range of case-studies across the major aquaculture sectors (marine/freshwater/brackish water, fish/bivalve, coastal/offshore/inland). At the same time we liaise with national and EU policy-makers to ensure integration with WFD and MSFD. We assure lasting project outcomes and a strong positive impact to the decision-making process, by quantifying the key drivers for sustainable aquaculture development in Europe and providing the framework of thresholds, tools, and indicators to benchmark growth.


The central goal of our SAPHIRE project is to stimulate the expansion of the major European aquaculture sectors while protecting and consolidating the good environmental status of ecosystems. By co-production of knowledge we will provide the tools necessary for a robust regulatory framework for determining appropriate impact thresholds, accounting for ecosystem services from aquaculture and estimating aquaculture carrying capacity, leading to sustainable increases in aquaculture production, economic growth, increased employment and the promotion of the Blue Economy. The consortium’s collective expertise, 200+ aggregate years producing tools for carrying capacity assessment for aquaculture, provides a good platform for achieving this goal.




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