Wider EU fish policy wants aquacultural development

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

Brussels - The steady growth in the demand for fish products represents great potential for the aquaculture industry in Europe. In a speech to EU officials outlining the future of the union's fisheries policy, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Commissioner Joe Borg said more could be achieved by widening Europe's strategy - and fish farming is a key player.

Dr Borg said that Europe's current policies were improving the sustainability of the industry and helping to preserve fish stocks, but more could be achieved.

He said that one of the most critical areas for consideration is the marketing and sale of fish. "It is vital to ensure that earnings from fisheries products improve so that investments by the industry are adequately rewarded," he said.

The sector also needed a better understanding of markets and the role of the various factors along the value chain. This would make real in-roads into 'adding value' to fisheries products.

"This focus will help the industry directly and also assist the Commission in drawing up new initiatives on eco-labelling schemes. Our current reflections on a new strategy for the aquaculture sector should also be assessed," said Dr Borg.

A consultation paper is proposed which will establish what EU involvement is required to encourage consumer demand for farmed fish products. It will also determine what, if any, regulations are needed to ensure the sustainable and environmentally sensitive development of aquaculture in Europe.

Dr Borg said that aquaculture faced a number of challenges, including high environmental and health standards and increasing competition from developing nations.

"We need to identify a strategy that can deliver the best possible growth which will benefit producers and consumers alike in an environmentally friendly manner," he said.

The consultation paper will cover a wide range of issues, including the economic outlook for aquaculture, the environmental challenges facing the industry, new aquaculture species, market opportunities and the EU's support for sustainability.