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As retail and consumer demands on the fisheries and aquaculture products increase, so does the pressure on the fisheries and aquaculture industries, writes Chris Harris.

In many areas in Europe, the pressure on small communities that rely on these products for a living is increasing as imports of fish and aquaculture products also grows.

At present, between 60 and 70 per cent of the fishery and aquaculture products consumed in Europe are imported.

However, despite the great dependency on imports, many European producers find it difficult to sell their products.

In a bid to reverse the trend and re-establish European production areas for fish on a sustainable basis, the European Commission established Farnet - a programme designed to aid fishery and aquaculture communities.

The programme supports local players in the fishery sector - fishermen, fish farmers, processors and project promoters, helping them to put in place a process for adding value to local products.

With the drive and demand for more European produced products in a growing market the EC programme is designed to offer a multitude of possibilities to European producers.

The Farnet programme is part of the EC 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth founded on an integrated policy approach. It is a supportive framework fostering schemes at a local, regional and state level.

The programme is part of Axis 4 of the EC's European Fisheries Fund.

The initiative gives local people from the fisheries sector a chance to shape the Common Fisheries Policy as it affects them and ensures developments in the fisheries sector are integrated in the wider development process.

The Farnet scheme organisers believe that many fishing communities are in decline not only because of falling fish stocks and the unsustainable nature of pursuing larger and larger catches to make ends meet, but also because the inability of the communities to make the most of what they have.

"Farnet is a territorial approach, rather than a fisheries approach," said Serge Gomes da Silva from the EC's Farnet Support Unit.

"It seeks the sustainability of the area through sustainable practices and at the same time it helps to create additional jobs.

"It couples local demand with local production."

The scheme seeks to increase the incomes of fishing and aquaculture communities by adding value.

Farnet helps with technical support in terms of guidance and advice, through development guides and factsheets and using thematic training courses and establishing Fisheries Local Action Groups.

The scheme also aims to build public -private partnerships to foster cooperation between various parts of the community.

However, the local actions groups are not established just as a source of finance for the Farnet projects but as active participants in the schemes.

More information about the Fisheries Area Network can be found on https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/fpfis/cms/farnet/.


May 2011

the Fish Site Editor

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