I was in Salzburg yesterday. There, with the Austrian Minister of Agriculture Nicolaus Berlakovich, we hosted a conference to discuss the future of European aquaculture.
The sustainable development of aquaculture is crucial for our fisheries reform package to reduce overfishing and provide an alternative source of supply for the growing demand for seafood. So, I very much welcome the participation of several European Ministers, Members of the European Parliament as well as representatives of stakeholders throughout the supply chain and civil society.
Over a third of European total seafood imports are farmed products. This is the main contradiction we have to handle: We are the best, because we respect the highest standards of environmental sustainability and offer real quality products. Though our industry is stagnating. At global level, FAO estimates that today, half of the fish the world consumes comes from aquaculture; by 2030, it will be 65%. We can not miss the opportunity for a second time.
The new EU Maritime and Fisheries Fund will seek to increase the competitiveness of enterprises through innovation and create jobs. It will provide an opportunity for improving existing facilities. But also an amount has to be ring fenced for newcomers.
Reducing the administrative burden and improving the licensing systems will be paramount. Here the main target is to conciliate the investment with the environmental legislation. To find also space for the aquaculture projects in seas and freshwater is a great challenge. In the conference, I heard already some successful practices, but to have a complete overview, on 21 May, we’ll start a consultation to identify the main hurdles and bottlenecks that prevent European aquaculture from flourishing. Since is no one size facilities fits all solution, only main priorities and general targets will be set at European level, leaving up to each EU country to develop its own plan for aquaculture.
To revive EU aquaculture we need coordinated action by all levels of authorities, EU, national and regional: let’s work together!