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Vella’s clarion call to EU aquaculture


Given that the European Union (EU) imports almost two thirds of its seafood needs, it is EU consumers’ responsibility to ensure that “the fish on our plates is high quality and sustainably farmed”.

So argued Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, in a speech to delegates at the Aqua2018 conference in Montpellier this week.

Speaking at the event he noted that an increase in sustainable aquaculture production was essential to help feed the growing global population.

“These are exciting times for the aquaculture community – the world’s population is growing, we know that we need high quality proteins to feed us all, but we also know that land-based proteins exhaust precious resources. It is clear we can use our oceans more – at present the oceans provide only 2 percent of our daily calorie intake. Clearly the oceans can provide more. Our challenge is to do it sustainably – wild fisheries alone cannot be the answer, instead sustainable aquaculture will have to step up to close the food security gap. And this is not just my opinion – science has come to the same conclusion,” he said.

“As the recent scientific report, ‘Food from the oceans’, points out, sustainable fish farming brings economic growth, jobs and stability to rural and coastal areas. It contributes to food security, it provides consumers with fresh, local and healthy proteins, all the while keeping our oceans healthy and that is why the European Union is working to unblock the remaining obstacles to the sector’s sustainable development. We are encouraging investments and less bureaucracy, we are endorsing a more efficient allocation of maritime space, and we are promoting a positive shift in consumer attitudes. And our work is paying off – in 2014 EU fish farmers registered a record value of more than €4 billion fish that was farmed according to the world’s highest environmental and health and safety standards. And we are ready to share our experience with others beyond the European Union," he added.

“Nearly two out of every three fish we consume in the European Union comes from beyond our shores – we have a global responsibility to ensure that those fish are sources sustainably as well. Ladies and gentlemen, the keys to a successful and sustainable future are in our hands. It is up to us to ensure that the fish on our plates is high quality and sustainably farmed and to respect and preserve all oceans for now and for future generations,” the commissioner concluded.