AQUACULTURE in the European Union is finally showing signs of recovery, the EU Fisheries and Maritime Commissioner, Karmenu Vella, has declared.
Speaking at a ‘Farmed in the EU Regions’ conference in Brussels, which showcased European aquaculture success stories, he reported that the sector had seen growth of four per cent in volume and eight per cent in value between 2014 and 2015, generating profits of 400 million euros.
But there was scope for even greater growth as he called on the regions to fully embrace aquaculture.
He told the conference: ‘The success is in part due to strong co-operation over the last years between the European Commission and national authorities to remove barriers to growth.
‘As a result, many governments have been taking steps to cut red tape, which clearly has been paying off.
‘Aquaculture can deliver local food and local jobs in an environment friendly way. The planning, authorisation, and ultimately the success of aquaculture in the EU lie in the hands of our regions and member states. We count on you to support investment in this promising industry.’
With global population expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, Commissioner Vella said he viewed aquaculture as a key pillar of world and European food security.
‘We need to plan ahead now to provide more fish, shellfish and algae in a sustainable, responsible way,’ he said.
‘Of course, we must continue our work on sustainable wild fisheries, but if we are to get more seafood, it has to come from farming.
‘Having many small, well planned farming actions at regional scale, and helping consumers to make informed, responsible choices is the key to success.’
As a form of concrete support to regions, the Commission unveiled a series of new guidelines on the accommodation of aquaculture within the EU environmental rules, as well as information on planning and business authorisation. These are available in all EU languages.
The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund provides 1.2 billion euros for aquaculture. This money was there to help farms invest, grow, become more innovative and efficient, and also to help attract more private investment, said Vella.
If investments gather pace and the conditions continue to be supportive of the sector, Europe could see the 25 per cent growth by 2020 that member states had aimed for when developing their aquaculture plans in 2014.
The Commissioner pledged that the European Commission was ready to collaborate with national and regional authorities to implement the ‘Farmed in the EU’ communication campaign, helping aquaculture professionals to explain their job to schools across Europe.
Picture: EU Fisheries and Maritime Commissioner Karmenu Vella