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Commissioner Maria Damanaki visits a fish hatchery on the Mondsee (Austria)

A fish hatchery on the Mondsee (Austria)

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!

EUROPEAN AQUACULTURE: BEST BUT STAGNATING, 5.0 out of 5 based on 2 ratings

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  1. Alex Barnett says:

    Aquaculture continuous to grow in Europe. The development has made numerous benefits for European countries. It’s very environmental friendly and it can prevent over fishing.

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  2. Mark Knudsen says:

    I agree with your post when you said that the fisheries in Europe are quite stagnating. We need to do a lot of things here in order for us to save the work of a lot of fishermen and of course to be able to provide fresh seafoods for the community.

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  3. Colt Larsen says:

    Thanks for raising awareness on this issue! I, like many others, would like to see with my own eyes the biodiversity of undersea life. Let’s all do what we can to preserve it so that future generations will still have the opportunity to appreciate it as well!

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  4. EuropeanKiss says:

    We need to do something about our oceans being depleted.

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  5. David Langley says:

    I appeal to you to recognise that the CFP is not capable of managing fish stocks and resources. Millions of tons of small fish, juveniles mostly are killed and ditched overboard. Why can’t this resource be used for animal feed or something useful? Why are “Foreign” fleets allowed to wreck our fishing industries and our fishing grounds. Why did our politicians lie to us when signing treaties that are a disgrace and in the fullness of time be overturned.

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  6. Do as they say…
    …is a difficult exercise for many. Not at least for EU.
    Recently returned from yet another nice European conference on aquaculture in Salzburg, including Ministers and the Commissioner, I note EU’s beautiful rhetoric, while aquaculture production stagnates or even decreases in the EU area. This has been the case for the last 20-30 years.
    However, EU through its new CFP is likely to continue with more of the same failed policies of stopping profitable productions with proven production methods for highly demanded products through environmental mismanagement and red tape, while making strategies for and transferring billions of Euro for research, development and investment in unproven niche productions, that are on the verge of being profitable, or profitable only with subsidies.
    One example is the “quest” for new species, which is a fruitless exercise considering, that more than 95 % of land based animal farming is produced through four species (chicken, sheep, pigs, cattle). The new species in European aquaculture is salmon (and its close cousin: trout).
    EU needs urgently to change course. European politicians has to realize, that it is not possible to undertake a major expansion, e.g. a tripling of European aquaculture production without demand for more environmental space, in the form of nitrogen quotas, physical space for farm locations, water resource allocations, organic material assimilative capacity, etc.
    Even a RAS “zero-emission” technology demands a lot of environmental space for materials and energy for construction of the farm and energy for recirculating water. And is anyway still only economically feasible for niche productions.  The largest demand for environmental space of any animal production is, by the way, for procurement of raw materials for feed either by fisheries or by growing feed plants. A tripling of fish culture production in EU would, at the current food efficiency level, demand three times more feed with resulting increased impacts on the ecosystems supplying the feed.
    The necessary environmental space can be found in two combinatory ways. Firstly, it has to be reviewed, whether there is a fair balance between EU and its Water Frame Directive’s (WFD) environmental concerns and the overall socio-economic concerns of production, jobs and employment. It has never been intended by the WFD, that is should lead to an outsourcing of European food production to countries with lower standards for animal welfare, environment, nature and climate by aiming to convert all European water bodies to a more-or-less pristine natural state. What about the Netherlands? Should the dikes be removed?
    Europe’s food production needs an immediate increase in environmental space. This will be a huge benefit to the global environment, as Europe’s food producers have a much smaller relative environmental impact than the rest of the world.
    Secondly, the environmental space must be allocated to sectors that provide the greatest societal benefit relative to utilization of the available environmental space. Aquaculture is in this respect in a very good position, as the “ecological footprint” of fish production is lower than most other types of animal production. In other words eating aquaculture fish is better for the environment.
    It is an imperative political task and the politicians’ explicit responsibility to review these balances and allocate the necessary space for aquaculture. Before that is done, nothing will happen except a continued waste of EU taxpayer’s money for misdirected aquaculture policies.
    I would like to appeal to the European politicians and particularly to our enthusiastic and resolute Madame Commissioner Ms. Maria Damanakis to take on this important task.
    If EU aquaculture here and now is released from its disproportionate restrictions, it can quickly increase production and sales and start earning real money. We will then be able to develop effective environmental technologies to ensure, that we produce much larger quantities and values, while reducing our long-term need for environmental space.
    Karl Iver Dahl-Madsen
    President, Danish Aquaculture Association

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Last update: 21/10/2014 | Top