European Green Deal: Commission adopts strategic guidelines for sustainable and competitive European aquaculture – The European Sting – Critical News & Insights on European Politics, Economy, Foreign Affairs, Business & Technology
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The Commission has adopted new strategic guidelines for a more sustainable and competitive European aquaculture. The guidelines provide a common vision for the Commission, Member States and stakeholders to develop the sector in a way that directly contributes to the European Green Deal and in particular the farm-to-fork strategy. The guidelines will help the EU aquaculture sector to become more competitive and resilient, and to improve its environmental and climate performance.
Virginijus Sinkevičius, The Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries said: “Aquaculture has a growing role to play in the European food system. The sector can provide healthy food with a generally smaller climate and environmental footprint than terrestrial agriculture. With the guidelines we adopted today, we want to position EU aquaculture production as the global benchmark for sustainability and quality, reduce our dependence on seafood imports and create more jobs, especially in coastal regions. “
Objectives of the guidelines
The guidelines have been prepared in close consultation with EU Member States and stakeholders, including those represented on the Aquaculture Advisory Board. They set four interdependent objectives for the further development of aquaculture in the Union:
- strengthen resilience and competitiveness
- participate in the green transition
- ensure social acceptance and consumer information, and
- increase knowledge and innovation
The proposed guidelines will also support the substantial increase in organic aquaculture at EU level. As indicated in the recently published Organic Action Plan, organic aquaculture production remains a relatively new sector but with significant growth potential.
Unlike fisheries, aquaculture is not an area of exclusive competence of the EU. However, in recognition of the important role aquaculture plays in European food security, sustainable growth and employment, the Common Fisheries Policy provides for a system of strategic coordination of aquaculture policy in the EU.
Such a strategic approach has become even more relevant today, given the potential of the aquaculture sector to contribute to the achievement of the objectives of the European Green Deal, and the need to ensure the long-term sustainability and resilience of the sector, especially in light of the COVID-19 crisis. The new strategic orientations have fully integrated these objectives.
Examining the challenges and opportunities of the EU aquaculture sector, the guidelines propose specific actions in a number of areas, including access to space and water, human and animal health, environmental performance, climate change, animal welfare, regulatory and administrative framework, and communication on EU aquaculture.
In particular, the Commission proposes to develop detailed guidance documents on good practice in the most important areas and foresees a dedicated aquaculture support mechanism to support the development of these guidance documents, as well as than the implementation of the good practices described therein.
Among other objectives, the Commission also encourages EU Member States to include the increase in organic aquaculture in the (ongoing) review of their national strategic plans for the aquaculture sector as well as to support this type of aquaculture production with part of the funds available under the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF).
The Commission calls on EU Member States to take these new guidelines into account in their national multiannual strategic plans for the development of the aquaculture sector, as well as their support to the sector under the future European Business Fund maritime, fisheries and aquaculture (FEMAF) and other EU funds.
One in four seafood consumed in Europe comes from aquaculture. However, most of the seafood consumption is covered by imports, which account for around 60% of the total supply. Overall, only 10% of EU seafood consumption comes from EU aquaculture. This shows significant growth potential.
Despite these trade prospects, EU aquaculture production has only grown by 6% since 2007, reaching 1.2 million tonnes in sales volume and 4.1 billion euros in turnover in 2018. The EU’s contribution to world aquaculture production was less than 2% of world production in 2018 (FAO 2020).
The previous guidelines, adopted by the Commission in 2013, formed the basis for the multi-annual national strategic plans of the EU Member States for the development of aquaculture activities in their territory.