MEPs advocate for a sustainable and competitive EU aquaculture sector
- Stricter criteria for imported products
- Faster and clearer administrative procedures
- Consumers need to be better informed
Increasing EU aquaculture production and applying the same strict criteria to both imported and EU products are MEPs’ main proposals to strengthen aquaculture sector.
In a non-legislative resolution, adopted with 605 votes to 38 and 30 abstentions on Tuesday, MEPs insist that imported aquaculture products should meet the same environmental, food safety and socio-labour standards and respect for human rights as EU operators, thus creating a level-playing field for EU and imported products.
A specific label for products from EU sustainable aquaculture should be created to ensure transparency for consumers, by reinforcing traceability, adds the text.
Unlocking the potential of EU aquaculture
The potential of freshwater aquaculture to improve food security and develop rural areas in the EU has not been sufficiently explored. To boost the development of a sustainable and competitive EU aquaculture sector, MEPs propose inter alia:
- easing and speeding up the complex administrative procedures with a fast-track licensing system,
- making licencing procedures more transparent and clearer in order to attract more investors,
- the creation of a “one-stop shop”, a single administrative body where all relevant documents could be submitted.
Improving consumer information
MEPs call on the Commission and the member states to launch an EU-wide information campaign for consumers and businesses on aquaculture to raise awareness of the differences between the stringent and comprehensive standards on the European market and the lower-level standards applicable to imported products from non-EU countries.
The food safety and public health problems caused by introducing particularly resistant micro-organisms and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) into the EU should be emphasised, they say.
The rapporteur Carlos Iturgaiz (EPP, ES) said: “Aquaculture provide a sustainable source of high quality products for our consumers and we could be proud of this sector. However, the EU is not using its full potential and a number of problems persists, such as the lack of space or competition on the global market. The problems have been identified, the solutions as well. What we need is political impetus and the right amount of subsidiarity in managing aquaculture. But we also need to mix this subsidiarity together with stronger guidance from the EU, ensuring that there are the right regionally-adapted plans at local level.
European aquaculture production remained stable at around 1.2 million tonnes over the period 1995-2012, peaking at 1.4 million tonnes in 2000. In 2002, it stood at 1.25 million tonnes, accounting for 20% of fisheries production. The value of European aquaculture production reached EUR 3.6 billion in 2011. The sector employs around 85 000 people.
The main aquaculture producers among EU member states are Spain (22%), France (17%), the UK (16%), Italy (13%) and Greece (8.5%), accounting for 77% of total aquaculture production in 2011.