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Assessing the sensitivity of Welsh habitats and species to aquaculture activities

Our project for Welsh Government provides transparent, evidence-based resources to inform marine planning decisions and guidance for aquaculture activities


Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has published the resources from the Assessing Welsh Aquaculture Activities (AWAA) project. They are a set of resources that provides developers, regulators and advisors information on the potential impacts of aquaculture activities on Welsh habitats and species.

Delivered by ABPmer and NRW and funded through the Welsh Government by the European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF), the resources aim to provide guidance for those undertaking aquaculture activities and help inform marine planning decisions and environmental assessments.

The AWAA project supports the implementation of the 2019 Welsh National Marine Plan (WNMP),  which describes Welsh Government’s ambition to support the sustainable development of aquaculture activities in Welsh Waters. AWAA examines in more detail the sensitivities of marine biotopes (that comprise habitats) and species to the pressures arising from individual types of aquaculture activity.

Resources for aquaculture decision-making

The AWAA project has published several resources which support decision-making for aquaculture activities:

Evidence Database

The Evidence Database is a collection of relevant evidence sources currently available on the pressures which may arise from different aquaculture activities and how they may impact habitats and species. The database can be filtered to view the available evidence for different aquaculture activities, pressures and habitats and species.

Dashboard (and Interactions Spreadsheets)

The AWAA Dashboard presents the sensitivity of biotopes (components of habitats) and species to the pressures associated with aquaculture activities. Users can search for a specific aquaculture activity, pressure, biotope or species and/or Marine Protected Area (MPA) of interest. Users can also, for example, search for the most sensitive biotopes and species within an MPA.

The Dashboard is a user friendly, interactive tool allowing users to search the underlying Interactions Spreadsheets which can be downloaded separately.

Mapping Tool

The Mapping Tool is an interactive web application which allows users to spatially investigate the potential sensitivity of biotopes around Wales to the pressures associated with different aquaculture activities. Users can zoom into a particular area of interest, for example a site for a proposed aquaculture activity, to investigate which biotopes are potentially most sensitive.

Aquaculture Activity Assessments

Eight Aquaculture Activity Assessments guide users through a step-by-step process to understand the potential impacts an aquaculture activity may have on marine habitats and species. The Assessments show users how the AWAA resources can be used to search an area of interest for sensitive biotopes using the Mapping Tool and Dashboard and examine the evidence of impacts using the Evidence Database.

Project Report

The Report provides users with a description of the methods that have informed the production of the different AWAA resources. It should be read in conjunction with using the AWAA resources to understand potential assumptions and decisions made.

Browse all the AWAA resources at the NRW website


ABPmer supports policy-makers, regulators and the fisheries and aquaculture industry on marine environmental policy matters, assessment and management, including interactions between fisheries, marine protected areas (MPAs) and other marine developments.

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