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Alien and locally absent species

Alien and locally absent species



Regulation (EC) No 708/2007 — use of alien 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 EU;
  • all types of aquaculture installation. Nevertheless, it lays down special rules 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. EU countries must keep a regularly updated list of closed aquaculture facilities.

It does not apply to:

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

It covers all aquatic species, including any part that might survive and reproduce.

Measures for avoiding adverse effects on biodiversity

EU countries must:

  • introduce measures to avoid adverse effects on biodiversity resulting from the movement of aquatic organisms for aquaculture purposes and from the spreading of those organisms;
  • monitor and inspect aquaculture activities to ensure
    • 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.


Any movement of an alien aquatic organism to an aquaculture facility requires a permit issued by the receiving EU country. 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 the level of risk is assessed to be medium or high, the applicant and the administration concerned must examine whether there are ways to reduce the risk to a low level. 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 EU countries

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


EU countries 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.

The majority of EU countries have dedicated a specific web page on the regulation and the register is generally accessible from there.


It has applied since 1 January 2009, other than Chapters I and II, as well as Article 24 (detailed rules and adaptation to technical progress) which have applied since 18 July 2007.


Invasive alien species are one of the key causes of loss in biodiversity, whether by:

  • genetic changes;
  • the deterioration or modification of habitats;
  • spreading pathogenic agents and parasites; or
  • replacing native species in the ecological niche which they occupy.

This environmental impact has major economic and social repercussions.

For more information, see:


Aquaculture: the rearing or culture of aquatic organisms using techniques designed to increase the production of those organisms beyond the natural capacity of the environment. The organisms remain the property of a natural or legal person throughout the rearing or culture, up to and including harvesting.
Locally absent species: any aquatic species which is locally absent from a zone within its natural range of distribution for biogeographical reasons.
Alien species:
  • any aquatic species occurring outside its known natural range and the area of its dispersal potential;
  • any organism where the number of chromosomes has been artificially doubled; and
  • fertile artificially hybridised species.
Introductions: the process by which an alien species is intentionally moved to an environment outside its natural range for use in aquaculture.
Translocations: the process by which a locally absent species is intentionally moved within its natural range for its use in aquaculture to an area where it was not previously present.
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.


Council Regulation (EC) No 708/2007 of 11 June 2007 concerning use of alien and locally absent species in aquaculture (OJ L 168, 28.6.2007, pp. 1-17)

Successive amendments to Regulation (EC) No 708/2007 have been incorporated in to the original document. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.


Commission Regulation (EC) No 535/2008 of 13 June 2008 laying down detailed rules for the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 708/2007 concerning use of alien and locally absent species in aquaculture (OJ L 156, 14.6.2008, pp. 6-9)

Commission Regulation (EC) No 506/2008 of 6 June 2008 amending Annex IV to Council Regulation (EC) No 708/2007 concerning use of alien and locally absent species in aquaculture (OJ L 149, 7.6.2008, pp. 36-37)

last update 18.12.2018