Benjamin-Nicolau 's

Environm Ciencia, Tecnologia y Economia

sustainable development of EU aquaculture

Posted by benjamin-nicolau en abril 9, 2009

New impetus for the
sustainable development of EU aquaculture

What is

Aquaculture, also known as fish farming, is
to water what agriculture is to land – in other words, an aquaculture farmer
rears aquatic animals or cultivates aquatic plants. European aquaculture is a
very varied industry which produces marine shellfish (such as oysters and
mussels), marine finfish (such as salmon and sea bass) and freshwater finfish
(such as trout and carp). Cultivation of aquatic plants and algae is marginal
in Europe.

aquaculture: facts and figures

EU aquaculture produces around 1.3 million
tonnes per year. This represents 18 percent of the EU production of fisheries
products (2005 figures).

Which are the
main aquaculture species in the EU?

The main aquaculture species in terms of
volume are blue mussel (361 000 tonnes), rainbow trout (203 000 tonnes), salmon
(145 000 tonnes), cupped oyster (127 000 tonnes) and Mediterranean mussel (109
000 tonnes).

Source: Facts and
figures on the CFP, 2008 edition

Which are the
main aquaculture producers in the EU?

By volume, the main producers are France (258
000 tonnes), Spain (222 000 tonnes), Italy (181 000 tonnes), UK (173 000
tonnes) and Greece (106 000 tonnes).

By value, the main producers are France (555
million euro), UK (498 million euro), Italy (476 million euro), Greece (345
million euro) and Spain (280 million euro).

Source: Facts and
figures on the CFP, 2008 edition

aquaculture products do we import to the EU?

The EU imports a wide variety of aquaculture
species and products. The main ones are:

     salmon from Norway

     shrimps from the South East Asia and South America

     fresh water fish such as pangasius and tilapia, primarily from South
East Asia.

fish/seafood is farmed where in the EU ? 

     Oysters: the production is largely
dominated by France. There is also production in other Member States, for
instance Ireland.

     Mussels: the top producers are Spain,
Italy, the Netherlands and France.

     Clams: the production is dominated by
Italy; there is also production in Spain and Portugal and a few other Member

     Trout: almost every Member State has
trout farms. The main producers are Italy and France, followed by Denmark,
Germany and Spain.

     Carp: the main areas for EU
production are in Central Europe. The Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and
Germany are the biggest producers.

     Eel: main producers are the
Netherlands, Denmark and Italy.

     Atlantic salmon: the main EU
producers are the UK (Scotland) and Ireland.

     Sea bass and sea bream: the main
producer is Greece. There is also production in Spain, France and Italy.

How many jobs
are created by aquaculture in the EU?

Direct employment in the aquaculture sector
is approximately 65 000 full-time jobs. The vast majority of enterprises are
small and medium-sized companies.

Which are the
opportunities and challenges faced by the aquaculture industry?

The European aquaculture sector has access to
dynamic and cutting-edge research and technologies, advanced equipment and fish
feed. Thanks to the EU’s high environmental and health protection standards, EU
aquaculture products respect environmental protection requirements, meet high
quality demands and are traceable. While these high standards put EU
aquaculture at the forefront of sustainable development in the world, both in
terms of social and environmental impacts, they make it more difficult to
compete price-wise with third-country producers (e.g. in Asia and in South

Competition with imported products is
therefore an important challenge. But the sector faces a number of other
challenges as well. Competition for space and access to water in coastal areas
and river basins are important obstacles to setting up, developing or even
maintaining aquaculture production sites. Entrepreneurs have difficulty gaining
access to finance and investment. Moreover, the sector remains relatively
unknown to investors, public authorities and the general public, and this has
an impact on its image and governance.

Why does the
Commission want to boost EU aquaculture?

Aquaculture is an important food sector in the
EU, which provides healthy products of high quality. It is strategically
important for Europe, not least in view of our heavy reliance on imports of
seafood. Aquaculture can also play an important role in economic development
and job creation in some regions.

What does the
Commission propose to do?

The Commission wants to give new political
impetus and leadership to the sustainable development of EU aquaculture. Its
initiative centres around three strategic objectives to which a number of
actions are linked, which the public authorities could take to unleash the
potential of the sector. The Commission aims to:

     help make EU aquaculture more competitive – by supporting research
and technological development, ensuring that the sector has access to the space
and water it needs for its production and has an equal voice in spatial
planning processes, enabling EU aquaculture to cope with market demands and
helping the sector strengthen its position on the international scene.

     ensure sustainable growth – by encouraging green production methods,
ensuring high animal health and welfare standards, providing healthy and safe
food to consumers and publicising the health benefits of aquaculture products.

     improve the sector’s image and governance – by ensuring a level playing
field, reducing red tape, encouraging the dissemination of factual information
to the public and the involvement of stakeholders in policy-making, and
adequately monitoring the sector.

All these goals
should be achieved by EU, national and regional bodies taking measures that
fall within their responsibility.

What is the
difference between the new initiative and the aquaculture strategy presented in

In 2002, the Commission presented a Strategy
for the sustainable development of aquaculture (COM(2002)511). The measures for
implementation at EU level foreseen in the Strategy have been launched. But
since then a lot has changed, and not only because the EU has grown from 15 to
27 Member States. The aquaculture sector is a relatively new and fast-changing
industry. The economic outlook is evolving very rapidly. Production in some
parts of the world has been and still is growing strongly, but overall EU
production has remained stable at around 1.3 million tonnes per year.

The 2002 strategy broadly achieved its
objectives in terms of ensuring a high level of environmental protection and in
providing safe aquatic food from aquaculture, while guaranteeing animal health
and welfare. However, the growth of the industry foreseen in the strategy
failed to materialise.

Based on an evaluation of the strategy, the
Commission decided in 2007 to hold a wide-ranging consultation with
stakeholders to identify both opportunities for the development of aquaculture
in Europe and obstacles and bottlenecks the sector is facing. The consultation
showed unanimous support in favour of a renewal strategy for aquaculture at EU
level. The Commission’s new initiative aims to give new impetus to the 2002
strategy, and to address the obstacles to growth faced by the industry.

Will there be
concrete follow up proposals?

EU aquaculture is covered by the Common
Fisheries Policy but is also closely dependent on developments in other policy
areas – environment, maritime spatial planning, animal welfare, animal health,
food safety, research etc. The Commission has brought together all these
policies in its communication, to show the necessary measures that need to be
taken at EU, national and regional level to give new impetus to the sustainable
development of aquaculture. The aim is not to create  new legislation specifically for aquaculture, but  to give a strong political impetus to
its development.

The Commission wants to make sure that the
particular needs of aquaculture are taken into account in the development of
sectoral legislation and seeks to address the different bottlenecks that fall
under the responsibility of public authorities. The measures outlined in the
Communication are mainly non-legislative and should be delivered over a period
of two to four years.

The future of EU aquaculture and the future
role of the EU will have to be assessed and further discussed in the
preparation of the future reform of the Common Fisheries Policy and the review
of EU financing instruments after 2013.



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