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Summaries of EU Legislation

Alien and locally absent species

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Alien and locally absent species

The European Union (EU) establishes a legal framework to limit the environmental risks related to the introduction and translocation of non-native species in aquaculture. This legal framework provides in particular for the application of a procedure for obtaining a special permit.


Council Regulation (EC) No 708/2007 of 11 June 2007 concerning use of alien and locally absent species in aquaculture [See amending act(s)].


The Regulation aims to create a framework governing aquacultural practices in order to ensure adequate protection of the aquatic environment from the risks associated with the use of non-native species and locally absent species in aquaculture *.


The Regulation applies to movements of alien species (introductions) * or locally absent species (translocations) * for their use in aquaculture in the European Union (EU). The Regulation covers all aquatic species including any part that might survive and reproduce. The Regulation applies to all types of aquacultural installation. Nevertheless, it lays down special provisions relating to closed aquaculture facilities. Movements of non-native or locally absent species to be kept in closed aquaculture facilities may be exempted from the requirement to obtain a permit on condition that they are transported under conditions that prevent them from spreading in the environment. Member States must draw up a list of closed aquaculture facilities and update it regularly.

The Regulation does not apply:

  • to translocations of organisms within Member States, except if there is a risk to the environment;
  • to pet-shops, garden centres or aquaria where there is no contact with EU waters;
  • to the species listed in Annex IV, except for certain provisions.

Measures for avoiding adverse effects on biodiversity

Member States must take all appropriate measures to avoid adverse effects on biodiversity resulting from the movement of aquatic organisms for aquaculture purposes and from the spreading of those organisms.

Member States shall monitor and inspect aquaculture activities to make sure that:

  • closed aquaculture facilities comply with the requirements laid down by this Regulation; and
  • transport to or from such facilities takes place under conditions which prevent the escape of alien species or non-target species.


The Regulation makes any movement of an alien aquatic organism to an aquaculture facility subject to the issue of a permit by the receiving Member State. To obtain this permit, the aquaculture operator must submit an application providing certain information, including the name and characteristics of the organism concerned, the proposed destination and the reason for the movement, the potential impact on the environment, the measures to manage and monitor the movement, etc.

Routine movement

In the case of movement from a source known not to pose a risk to the environment, the competent authority may issue a permit indicating, where applicable, requirements for quarantine * or pilot release *.

Non-routine movement

In the case of non-routine movement, an environmental risk assessment must be carried out. If there is found to be a medium or high risk, the applicant and the administration concerned must examine whether there are procedures or technologies available to reduce the level of risk to low. If the level of risk is reduced to low, the competent authority may issue a permit indicating, where appropriate, requirements for quarantine, pilot release or monitoring *.

Movements affecting neighbouring Member States

Member States likely to be affected by a movement of marine organisms must be informed and send their comments to the Commission, which will confirm, cancel or amend the permit.


Member States must keep a register of introductions and translocations containing all the information relating to them. The registers are to be made available to the public.


Invasive alien species are one of the key causes of loss in biodiversity, either by genetic changes, deterioration or modification of habitats, spreading pathogenic agents and parasites, or by replacing native species in the ecological niche which they occupy. This environmental impact has major economic and social repercussions.

This Regulation is based on the voluntary alien species rules originating from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and the European Inland Fisheries Advisory Commission (EIFAC).

Key terms used in the act

  • Aquaculture: the rearing or culture of aquatic organisms using techniques designed to increase the production of the organisms in question beyond the natural capacity of the environment, the organisms remaining the property of a natural or legal person throughout the rearing or culture stage, up to and including harvesting.
  • Alien species: firstly, any aquatic species occurring outside its known natural range and the area of its dispersal potential and secondly, any artificially induced tetraploid organism (4N) and fertile artificially hybridised species.
  • Locally absent species: any aquatic species which is locally absent from a zone within its natural range of distribution for biogeographical reasons.
  • Quarantine: the purpose of this is to maintain the organisms concerned in complete isolation for long enough to establish a breeding stock, to detect accidentally present species and to confirm the absence of pathogens and disease. The quarantine establishment must comply with detailed specifications in compliance with the conditions established by the Regulation (Annex III).
  • Pilot release: the initial phase of small-scale release of aquatic organisms subject to special confinement and prevention measures. A contingency plan must be drawn up so that the organisms in question can be removed or reduced in density in the event of unforeseen risks to the environment or native populations.
  • Monitoring: this must be carried out for at least two years following the organisms' release into their new environment, to assess whether the impacts were accurately predicted or if there are additional or different impacts.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 708/2007



OJ L 168 of 28.6.2007

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EU) No 304/2011



OJ L 88 of 4.4.2011

Successive amendments and corrections to Regulation (EC) No 708/2007 have been incorporated into the basic text. This consolidated version is for reference only.

Last updated: 27.07.2011