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AQUA EUROPE: Challenges Facing EU Aquaculture

by 5m Editor
20 October 2011, at 1:00am

EU - Speaking at the opening of Aquaculture Europe, Lara Barazi - Yeroulanos said that whilst many challenges faced EU aquaculture producers, a huge opportunity presents itself, which must be embraced. Charlotte Johnston, TheFishSite editor reports.

Why aquaculture in the EU?

With reports that populations are increasing and that the demand for food is expected to double in the next 15 years, there are plenty of opportunities for aquaculture, Miss Barazi - Yeroulanos, who is CEO of Kefalonia Fisheries SA said.

Demand for seafood is growing, with wild stocks and climate change, pressure on capture fisheries is increasing, and fish landed will undoubtedly decrease over the coming years.

"For me, this means aquaculture must fill that gap," she said.

Miss Barazi - Yeroulanos said that aquaculture in EU was not recognised as an industry by many, and needed much mroe government support if it is to succeed.

How to expand aquaculture in the EU?

Increase land in production

Miss Barazi - Yeroulanos said that there is only 10 per cent more land available in the world to produce food from.

There are constraints on freshwater availability, however she said that the seas and oceans were a huge opportunity.

The oceans and seas account for 70 per cent of earth's surface area - and only five per cent of this is currently farmed.

Miss Barazi - Yeroulanos said that although climate change - which affects ocean temperatures, salinity and oxygen levels etc - is a challenge, it is something worth exploring.

She said that half a million extra hectares of production would be needed to increase aquaculture production from its current 1.48 mt to 6.88 mt - to meet all predicted changes in world demand for food.

Efficiency

Research into plant based proteins, and increasing the digestibility of feed are already ongoing. Over the last 20 years a lot of advances have been made in feed efficiency, however there is still potential to improve.

Although the debate on genetically modified (GM) products continues, Miss Barazi - Yeroulanos said that whilst she did not agree on GM food for improving profits alone, there was opportunities to select efficient speices/ traits, best suited to deal with changing environments.

More research and innovation

The challenge, Miss Barazi - Yeroulanos said was to transform educated guesses into knowledge, through research and innovation.

Aquaculture is still in its infancy, however it is already moving towards a sustainable future.

"We are not held back, like other food producers, as there is no traditional way to farm fish," she said.

"We have the knowledge and the resources to stay ahead of the game. However we must decide now whether this is the direction we want to take, and if we do, we must embrace it fully."

5m Editor