We wanted to know more about this country’s aquaculture and asked someone who would know best: Javier Ojeda from the Asociación Empresarial de Acuicultura de España. His organization represents the Spanish aquaculture farmers and provides services to farmer members in order to promote sustainable and responsible behaviors for a sustainable aquaculture.
Find out more about aquaculture production and marketing in Spain here:
GGN.ORG: Could you give us a short overview on aquaculture in Spain: Which forms (technology) and fish species are most common?
Javier Ojeda: Aquaculture in Spain is highly diverse. Marine aquaculture exists on all Spanish coasts, including offshore cages (for Sea Bass, Sea Bream and Meagre), sea barges (for mussels), longlines (for mussels and oysters), land-based tanks (for turbot and sole), and onshore tidal farming (for clams, oysters and other mollusks). Freshwater aquaculture produces mainly Rainbow Trout, but also Sturgeon, in raceways.
GGN.ORG: What is the position of Spanish aquaculture in a European and international ranking?
Javier Ojeda: Spain is the leading European Union aquaculture country in terms of tonnage and fourth in value (see graphs below).
GGN.ORG: Is there a typical “Spanish” fish, one with a long local farming tradition for example?
Javier Ojeda: We would argue that in Spain Sea Bass, Sea Bream and Turbot are the “typical” marine farmed fish, and Rainbow Trout for fresh water farming.
GGN.ORG: How many certified aquaculture facilities are there in Spain? In which areas particularly (and why)?
Javier Ojeda: We do not have this information. Nevertheless, we can assume that 100% of Spanish finfish farms are certified with some type of ISO certification. Certification on organic production, GLOBALG.A.P., ASC or others are less frequent but still common. A Spanish certified brand called Crianza de Nuestros Mares, owned by APROMAR, has a strong position on Bass, Bream and Meagre. Its main selling points are freshness and quality.
GGN.ORG: Where do you see future potential in Spanish (certified) aquaculture?
Javier Ojeda: Basic certification such as ISO 9000 or 14000, is the logical next step. Other certifications may follow, depending on the market demand.
GGN.ORG: Looking at the increasing overfishing of the oceans, aquaculture is of growing importance for feeding the world in the future – what part can Spanish aquaculture play in this context (scientific research, sustainable farming technologies...)?
Javier Ojeda: A big part. Spanish aquaculture companies are at the cutting edge of technology and best practice. Plus, there are several highly competitive research centers and technology clusters, and our schools and universities offer excellent courses on aquaculture.
GGN.ORG: How much is the market share of fish from aquaculture in the domestic market? What are the biggest export markets for Spanish aquaculture products? Does Spain also import fish and seafood products?
Javier Ojeda: The market share of fish from aquaculture in the Spanish domestic market is estimated at 25%. Our largest export partners for aquaculture products are France, Italy, the UK, and Germany. Spain is a major global importer of fish and seafood products.
GGN.ORG: How popular are fish and seafood among Spanish consumers, and are they affordable for most people? What are the most popular species?
Javier Ojeda: Yes, fish and seafood are very popular in Spain. Per capita consumption is 45.2 kg/year. Fish is affordable, depending on the species. The main species consumed are hake, cod, salmon, sea bass, anchovies, sea bream, etc.
GGN.ORG: Do you also look out for labels when buying fish? If so, what factors influence your choice?
Javier Ojeda: Spanish consumers do not look much into labels or certifications. Consumers primarily care about the price, followed by freshness and country of origin.
 In comparison: The per capita consumption in Germany is around 20 kg/year, almost equal to the worldwide average.