Commission Launches Consultation On A Sustainable Future For European Aquaculture

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
11 May 2007, at 1:00am

BRUSSELS - The European Commission has started a consultation exercise on opportunities for the development of aquaculture in the European Union. The steady growth in the demand for fisheries products represents great potential for further development in the production of such products from aquaculture.

The purpose of this consultation is, therefore, to establish what action is desirable at EU level so that both the sector and the consumers can reap the maximum benefit from this development, while ensuring the sustainability of aquaculture activities. A detailed consultation paper has been published on the Internet, and stakeholders and citizens have until 15 July 2007 to provide the Commission with their views. European Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Joe Borg, commented “The European aquaculture sector has many competitive advantages, but it also faces a number of challenges, including high environmental and health standards, and increasing competition from third country producers. We need to identify a strategy that can deliver the best possible growth that will benefit producers and consumers alike in an environmentally-friendly way.”

The consultation paper covers a wide range of issues, including:

  • The economic outlook of EU aquaculture;

  • The environmental challenges facing the industry;

  • Public health, and animal health and welfare;

  • New aquaculture species and opportunities;

  • Technological development and spatial planning;

  • EU support for sustainability;

  • The role of research.

In 2002, the Commission presented a Communication on a Strategy for the Sustainable Development of European Aquaculture (IP/02/1340). This strategy aims at achieving stability for the industry, guarantee secure employment and ensure health and environmental protection. The strategy identified different actions to be taken at the level of the EU, the Member States and the economic operators.

At EU level, the main actions identified were to create a framework to support the sustainable development of aquaculture with the help of structural funds, to stimulate research and innovation, and to ensure a high level of environmental, consumer and animal protection. Most of these actions have now been launched, in particular through the European Fisheries Fund adopted in 2006, and the 7th Research Framework Programme under which calls and projects are now being developed.

Five years later, although most of the challenges identified then appear still to be the same, time has come to take stock of progress made so far as well as of market and technological developments, and launch a debate with all stakeholders on the further development of sustainable aquaculture in the European Community. The consultation paper published on the internet will also serve as a basis in the consultation meetings that will be organised with stakeholders in the coming months. This will be followed by a conference, to be held before the end of this year, on the opportunities for the development of aquaculture in Europe. The consultation process could lead to the updating of the 2002 Strategy.