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‘Natura 2000’ is a network of land and sea sites throughout the European Union, designed to safeguard a list of the Europe's rarest and more threatened and endangered fauna & flora species and also habitat types in accordance with the EC ‘Habitats’ Directive (Council Directive 92/43/EEC), and the Directive on the conservation of wild birds (“Birds Directive”: Directive 2009/147/EC). These Directives are the cornerstones of Europe´s biodiversity policy. As such, species covered by these must be subject of special conservation measures concerning their habitat in order to ensure their survival and reproduction in their area of distribution.

Notwithstanding this, the Habitats and Birds Directives do not imply an automatic exclusion of any economic activities in and around Natura 2000 areas. Instead, human activities need to comply with the provisions outlined in Article 6 of the Habitats Directive, to ensure that those activities are in line with the conservation objectives of the Natura 2000 system.

In order to achieve a better implementation by Member States of EU legislation on the matter and to ensure equitability for economic operators on decisions affecting the development of aquaculture, the Commission committed itself to develop a guidance document on “aquaculture activities & Natura 2000”, to facilitate knowledge and implementation of its main environmental policy instruments.

The two DGs involved in Natura 2000 issues affecting aquaculture (DG Mare and DG Environment) have been working in collaboration with representatives of the aquaculture sector, environment experts, public authorities and NGOs, via a dedicated European Commission Working Group (“N2K Working Group”).

FEAP was represented by several members of its Environment Commission and a finalised document - AquaN2000 guide - was published in November 2012.

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Guidance document on aquaculture activities in the context of the Natura 2000 Network

A guidance document on 'aquaculture activities and Natura2000' has just been published aiming at offering guidance which would facilitate the knowledge and
implementation of EU legislation underpinning Natura 2000 in relation to aquaculture activities