​​​​Professional fishing and Aquaculture

Professional fishing

Art. 28 of Law n. 96 dated 4th June 2010 delegated the Government to adopt, within a period of eighteen months from the date of its entry into force, one or more legislative decrees for the reorganization, coordination and integration of the national legislation on fisheries and aquaculture through the completion of a single text, in order to implement Reg. (EC) n. 1198/2006, as well as Reg. (CE) n. 1005/2008 (establishing a Community system to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing).

Legislative Decree n. 4 dated 9th January 2012, concerning measures for the reorganization of the legislation on fisheries and aquaculture, in accordance with Art. 28 Law n. 96/2010 (published on the official gazette n. 26 dated 1st February 2012), is aimed at implementing the Community principles enshrined with the cited Regulations, related to the most pressing issues concerned with the definition of the professional categories and the introduction of a penalty system in line with the new European rules.

In accordance with these principles, the Government proceeded to the recognition of national legislation in force, examining it in the light of the Community rules, and identified the main lines of action to proceed to the entire reorganization of sector regulations, especially with regard to the definitions of professional and non-professional activities, even taking into account the provisions of art. 4 of Reg. (EC) n. 1224/2009.

The articles of the Decree concerning fishery and aquaculture revise certain definitions relating to:

  • professional fishing (art. 2)

  • aquacolture (art. 3)

  • fisheries operator (art. 4)

  • young fisheries operator (art. 5)

  • non-professional fishing (art. 6).

In particular, art. 2, paragraph 1, provides the definition of commercial fishing, which has been taken over by art. 4 of Reg. (EC) n. 1224/2009, according to which have to be considered "fishing activities" the ones related to the search for fish, shooting, setting, towing, hauling of a fishing gear, the transfer of the catch on board, transhipping, retaining on board, processing on board, transfer, caging, fattening and landing of fish and fishery products.

Paragraph 2 instead defines the activities related to professional fishing, innovating, with respect to the provisions contained in art. 3 of Decree n. 226/2001, by eliminating from the list of such activities those related to the first processing and storage on board that become fully considered professional activities, as well as through the removal of references related to the activity concerned with aquaculture that are an autonomous definition in art. 3. It is also added as an additional activity the implementation of interventions of active management, aimed at enhancing productive, sustainable use of aquatic ecosystems and the protection of the coastal environment.

Art. 3 provides a definition of aquaculture and related activities: aquaculture means an economic activity performed professionally directed to breeding or culture of aquatic organisms through the care and development of a biological cycle conducted in freshwater, brackish or marine.

Among the activities connected to aquaculture exercise fall, instead, handling and storage of products, and the supply of goods or services through the prevalent use of equipment or resources normally employed in aquaculture exercised. Similarly to the fisheries related activities, for the first time there will be implemented active management interventions aimed at enhancing the productive and sustainable use of aquatic ecosystems.

Art. 4 brings a new definition of fish operator: fish operator is the holder of a license that exercises professional fishing. The aquaculture operator is then equated to fish operator, to which are considered applicable to the provisions for the farmer. The equation of fish operator and operators of commercial fish and between enterprises of aquaculture and fish operator are no longer however no longer indicated.

Art. 5 sets for the first time the young fish operator as the one who conducts activities as per art. 4 and is not over 40 years old yet.

Finally, with art. 6, the definition of non-professional, recreational, touristic, sports or scientific fishing has been introduced, borrowed from art. 4 of Reg. (EC) n. 1224/2009, which defines recreational fishing as the "non-commercial fishing activities exploiting marine living aquatic resources for recreation, tourism or sport". Paragraph 2 states what the fishery science is, the definition of which reproduces that of art. 7 of Presidential Decree n. 1639/1968, which distinguished scientific fishing from sport fishing.


The term defines the set of aquaculture activities, different from fishing, aimed at the controlled production of aquatic organisms. In this sense, with reference to the related product, we intend more specifically fish, shellfish, crustacean and seaweed.

Aquaculture can represent an evolution, in strategic key, of the natural sensitivity of the fishermen to the environment. It combines the protection of biological resources and the environment in a specific area with sustainable economic development. No more than a merely conservative, but dynamic and forward-looking protection, to the benefit also of the younger generation for which conditions for diversified opportunities may arise in terms of employment.

We distinguish an extensive and an intensive form of aquaculture: as innovative activity, it is a greatly growing kind of production. The ability to manage offshore installations theoretically doesn't put limits of space for its development; also, the process of modernization of aquaculture coincides with a scientific and technological growth that allows to control the various stages of the life cycle and to develop quality treatments, as well as to intensify production. The development of a Total Quality System for aquaculture is a strategic objective. To be successful in the competition and, above all, to ensure consumers and provide them an ideal product for sanitation and nutritional characteristics.

Aquaculture of the future must not pollute, must produce healthy, environmental and consumer friendly products. On this, the Administration has based its development plans by engaging producers and researchers. There are clear indications on the key elements to consider: physical, chemical and biological environment of the site; training of technicians and workers; identification of any existing service structures in the target area; study of the commercial aspects and the possibility to market the product at remunerative prices; evaluation of financial and credit aspects in order to ensure the availability of adequate fixed and operating capital assets. In the near future it is easy to imagine that the development of aquaculture requires standardization, qualification, innovation, processing and typing of the product, strengthening of local associations, promotion of consortia of companies, creation of brand marketing.

The European Commission has published a set of strategic guidelines that illustrate common priorities and objectives in the field. After consultation with all stakeholders, four priority areas were identified:

  • reduce administrative burdens;

  • improve access to space and waters;

  • increase competitiveness;

  • exploit the competitive advantages thanks to high quality, health and environmental standards.

On the basis of the guidelines, the Commission and EU countries will work together to increase the production and competitiveness of the sector. To promote aquaculture, EU countries are invited to develop long-term plans, while the Commission will promote the coordination and exchange of best practices.

The Sea Fisheries Department of the Italian Coast Guard, in this context, is tasked with maintaining relations with international and national organizations at central and local levels, preparing the documentation of reference and, in particular:

  • provides technical support to the offices in direct connection with the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, to the Legislative Office of the Ministry, to the Department of European and international policies and the Directorate General of sea fishing and aquaculture in the drafting of legislation and regulations on fisheries and aquaculture;

  • collects statistics of community interest from local Maritime Offices;

  • deals with and develops, according to the guidelines established by the Minister, the contacts with the Regions, in collaboration with the Coast Guard General Headquarters.


Strategic guidelines for the sustainable development of EU aquaculture - COM/2013/229 - Communication to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions (29/04/2013)

Regulation (EU) N. 304/2011 dated 9th March 2011 amending Council Regulation (EC) n. 708/2007 concerning use of alien and locally absent species in aquaculture.

Commission Regulation (EC) n. 710/2009 dated 5th August 2009 amending Regulation (EC) n. 889/2008 laying down detailed rules for the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) n. 834/2007, as regards laying down detailed rules on organic aquaculture animal and seaweed production.

Council Regulation (EC) n. 834/2007 dated 28th June 2007 on organic production and labelling of organic products and repealing Regulation (EEC) n. 2092/91.

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