Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Aquaculture on the move in 2013

2013 is set to be a crucial year for European aquaculture with the EU aiming on boosting growth in the sector and existing proposals in the ongoing reform of the CFP also set to further harness efforts. With concerns surrounding the impacts of the industry however, SAR will be working to ensure that sound policies are in place to protect the marine environment.

As things stand, developments within the management of the aquaculture sector are taking place at break neck speed at the European level with the Commission, the Parliament and Member States all getting in on the act.

Plans, guidance and councils
Currently, Member States are working on their multiannual strategic plans, which they have to submit by the end of 2013 to the European Comission in order to apply for funding under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. In order to support Member States in this task the Commission is also working on Strategic Guidelines which are due to be issued any time now.

The European Commission also published a guidance document last year on aquaculture and Natura 2000, including best practices to illustrate how nature protection provisions can be compatible with sustainable aquaculture development. Recently, the Commission also announced its intention to develop similar guidance on aquaculture under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. 

In parallel to these processes, work has also started on the establishment of the future European Aquaculture Advisory Council - one of the proposals on the table for a reformed Common Fisheries Policy - as already agreed upon by the European Parliament. This stakeholder forum will bring together representatives of the industry as well as of consumer organisations, NGOs and other interest groups.

Concerns from NGOs
While the Commission profiles aquaculture as a sustainable solution to meet future seafood demands, NGOs are concerned about the consequences in terms of pollution and habitat destruction, escaping fish and their impacts on ecosystems, diseases, parasites, the use of chemicals and impacts on wild fisheries for the production of fish meal and fish oil. There are as yet many gaps in knowledge and data on the various impacts, which warrant a precautionary approach to future developments. 

Seas At Risk will be coordinating the NGO input into the processes mentioned, in order to ensure that the sector develops in an environmentally sustainable manner and that environmental stakeholders are well-represented in the new Advisory Council.