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Is Sustainable Aquaculture Possible in Europe?

Sustainability Economics Politics +2 more

EU - Aquaculture is the fastest growing animal sector of worldwide food production. But, in Europe in contrast with the rest of the world the sector is stagnating and imports of seafood into the EU are rising.

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The EU’s Blue Growth Strategy identifies aquaculture — the farming of fish, shellfish and aquatic plants — as a sector facing a new era of expansion.

Currently a quarter of seafood products consumed in the EU (including imports) are produced on farms, and there are over 14,000 aquaculture enterprises in the EU, directly employing 85,000 people in total.

Environmental concerns are already recognised by the aquaculture industry, which has made great progress in improving its environmental record in recent years.

Research has shown that some environmental pressures can been mitigated in absolute terms, as seen with the dramatic reductions in escapees and antibiotics use in Norwegian salmon farms. Significant improvements in efficiency have also been noted, as with the reduction of wild fish used in feed.

An expansion in the sector could boost economic growth across Europe and bring social benefits through new jobs, but will also create challenges.

Looking at the expansion of aquaculture in the EU, a new Future Brief from environmental news service, Science for Environment Policy, presents an overview of research into aquaculture’s impacts, and considers how it could develop in harmony with environmental goals.

The brief is relevant now as reformed Common Fisheries Policy also aims to promote the sector and EU Member States are currently developing national aquaculture strategies.

The brief report concludes that, while there have been significant improvements, as the sector expands further, it must continually improve its environmental sustainability.

A better understanding of the basics of aquatic ecology is needed: this is essential to the long-term economic sustainability of aquaculture as well as to our food security.

Further Reading

You can view the full brief by clicking here.