Alien and locally absent species

Regulation (EC) No 708/2007 — use of alien and locally absent species in aquaculture

It aims to create rules on aquaculture* practices 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.
It is based on the voluntary alien species* rules of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea and the European Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture Advisory Commission.


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.

Application & Background


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.



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)

Protecting biodiversity from invasive alien species

Regulation (EU) No 1143/2014 on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species

It sets out rules to prevent and manage the introduction and spread of invasive alien species (IAS)* in the EU.

This law seeks to minimise and mitigate the adverse effects of IAS on EU biodiversity and ecosystems, as well as on human health and the economy.

List of invasive alien species of Union concern

On 13 July 2016, the European Commission adopted its first list of IAS of ‘Union concern’.The list, which is developed on the basis of scientific risk assessments, is updated regularly and reviewed at least every 6 years. The list has already been updated once, with the adoption of additional species to the list on 12 July 2017.
Species on this list may not be intentionally brought into the EU’s territory. Nor may they be kept, bred, transported to, from or within the EU, sold, grown or released into the environment.

EU countries may issue permits to allow research, off-site conservation and medicinal use of the species listed as IAS of Union concern. For any other uses, EU countries wishing to issue permits first need to seek the Commission’s authorisation.

The IAS in question must be kept and handled in contained holding and transported under conditions that preclude their escape.

National action plans

Within 3 years of the listing of species, EU countries have to establish and implement action plans to address priority pathways. This is to prevent the unintentional introduction and spread of IAS of Union concern in their territory.

IAS of regional concern and native IAS

IAS may originate in one EU region and create issues in another EU region. Here, the Commission has a role to play in ensuring that the affected EU countries work together to deal with the problem.

Surveillance system

Within 18 months of the adoption of the list of IASs of Union concern, EU countries must establish surveillance systems which collect and record data on the occurrence of IAS in the environment.

Early detection and rapid eradication of newly establishing IAS

Any new observation (first observation or first observation after eradication) of a listed IAS in an EU country or in part of its territory leads to a rapid eradication obligation. Eradication can be achieved by lethal or non-lethal measures.

Management of widely spread IAS

Within 18 months of the listing of species, EU countries need to establish management measures for IAS that have already widely spread in their territory to minimise adverse effects.

These measures may be lethal or non-lethal and should remain proportionate to their impact on the environment and appropriate to the specific circumstances in the EU country.

Restoring damaged ecosystems

EU countries should carry out measures to assist in the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged or destroyed by an IAS of Union concern.

Transitional measures

People may keep their pets on the condition that:

they were acquired before the list was drafted; and
all appropriate measures are put in place to ensure that they cannot reproduce or escape.
In the first year after it has been listed, a business or other commercial enterprise may continue selling a species until stock is exhausted. However, in the second year following listing, a species may be sold or transferred to an establishment holding a permit or culled humanely. These transactions are allowed on condition that all appropriate steps are taken to ensure that the species cannot escape or reproduce.

Application & Background

It has applied since 1 January 2015.

Invasive alien species (IAS): plants or animals that have been transported outside their natural ecological range by humans (whether intentionally or unintentionally) into a new environment. While many of these species do not survive, some do and, due to their invasiveness, cause significant ecological and economic damage.


Regulation (EU) No 1143/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2014 on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species (OJ L 317, 4.11.2014, pp. 35-55)


Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/1263 of 12 July 2017 updating the list of invasive alien species of Union concern established by Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/1141 pursuant to Regulation (EU) No 1143/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council (OJ L 182, 13.7.2017, pp. 37–39)

Regulation (EU) 2016/2031 of the European Parliament of the Council of 26 October 2016 on protective measures against pests of plants, amending Regulations (EU) No 228/2013, (EU) No 652/2014 and (EU) No 1143/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council and repealing Council Directives 69/464/EEC, 74/647/EEC, 93/85/EEC, 98/57/EC, 2000/29/EC, 2006/91/EC and 2007/33/EC (OJ L 317, 23.11.2016, pp. 4-104)

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/1141 of 13 July 2016 adopting a list of invasive alien species of Union concern pursuant to Regulation (EU) No 1143/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council (OJ L 189, 14.7.2016, pp. 4-8)

Successive amendments to Regulation (EU) 2016/1141 have been incorporated into the original document. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/145 of 4 February 2016 adopting the format of the document serving as evidence for the permit issued by the competent authorities of Member States allowing establishments to carry out certain activities concerning invasive alien species of Union concern pursuant to Regulation (EU) No 1143/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council (OJ L 30, 5.2.2016, pp. 1-6)


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