European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries
Presentation of Aquaculture Guidelines Communication
Berlaymont press room/Brussels
29 April 2013
The Commission is taking an initiative to boost the economic performance of aquaculture in Europe. This is a timely proposal. At EU level, the gap between seafood consumption and production from wild fisheries keeps growing due to overfishing. This is what the slide above highlights. Moreover, the EU aquaculture industry is not growing as quickly as the gap. Quite to the contrary, production has been rather stagnating. In 2010 it represented representing 10 % of EU consumption. If we can raise tis percentage up to 1% we can help creating 3000 to 4000 jobs.
So, what are the challenges? What are the solutions?
Each country will have its own national plan for aquaculture on the basis of which the founding will be proposed. What these plans are going to include?
First, we see evidence from entrepreneurs having to wait up to 3 years to obtain a production licence. If aquaculture is to be competitive, we need to eliminate red tape - whilst maintaining our "state of the art" EU rules on environmental and consumer protection. For example, Denmark adopted a simplified "all in one" system to speed up approval procedures.
Secondly, across Europe, different activities compete for access to space. In March of this year, the Commission tabled a proposal for a Directive on integrated spatial planning and coastal zones management. This initiative should allow all activities (like tourism and aquaculture), as well as their positive and negative impact, to be fully taken into account.
Thirdly, aquaculture should become more competitive. We need diversification and a new species production. Also we need better coordination of the sector and a better knowledge on supply chain. Our new funding instrument can help on that, after a reform of our fisheries policy.
Finally, being more competitive on the international scene also means exploiting our assets better. A key asset is quality, linked to the high standards which we decide to impose on ourselves here in Europe. Operators can explore new niche markets, like organic aquaculture. More broadly, the key here will be providing better information to the consumers on these EU qualities. Our proposals on labelling are currently being discussed between Council and Parliament in the framework of the reform . Beyond this, my intention is to engage in a promotion campaign in order to help producers highlight their local qualities.
This is not an easy task, but filling the gap is an opportunity which we should not miss. Fish consumption is increasing dramatically, and rightly so. Fish is essential to our health. But we need a way out of the trap which is called overfishing. Aquaculture could become an important part of the solution, but it needs a boost. And we are giving it.