MEPs rally for stronger aquaculture sector

21 Jun 2010
Europe’s aquaculture sector requires investment, long-term planning and hence clear and stable rules, say MEPs.

Europe’s aquaculture sector requires investment, long-term planning and hence clear and stable rules, say MEPs.

A stronger European aquaculture industry could help meet growing consumer demand by providing alternatives to wild fish species. But safeguards are needed to prevent environmental and public health risks, according to a new resolution adopted by the European Parliament.

MEPs argued that clearer rules, less red tape and research investment are needed for the sector to take off.

The resolution drafted by Italian Socialist MEP Guido Milana and adopted by 420 votes to 15 with seven abstentions, suggested ways of boosting the European aquaculture sector, which is lagging behind the industry in other parts of the world.

MEPs said Europe’s aquaculture sector requires investment, long-term planning and hence clear and stable rules. They have called on the Commission to consolidate all EU legislation on this sector. 

Future legislation should lay down standard certification criteria for products and basic parameters on environmental impact, use of water resources, feeding of farmed fish, molluscs and crustaceans, product traceability and labelling, fish health and welfare standards, they said. 

Implementation and checks would be the responsibility of the member states.

The MEPs also stressed the need to lay down rigorous quality and traceability criteria and clear labelling principles for high-quality and organic aquaculture products. The Commission has been asked to introduce an eco-labelling programme for fishery and aquaculture products that follows the current general EU guidelines in the area.

Arguing that sector's success will largely depend on a more business-friendly environment, the resolution urged member states to reduce red tape for start-ups, for example by creating one-stop shops for administrative formalities.

Additional funding via the future European Fisheries Fund is needed, with a focus on innovative farms with lesser environmental impact, said Parliament. However, financing should be available only for sustainable practices. Aquaculture systems which deplete wild fish stocks or pollute coastal waters must be deemed unsustainable, believe MEPs.

The resolution also argued that European aquaculture should give priority to fish species which do not need other fish as part of their feed or which require smaller amounts of fish meals and oils.

Lastly, pointing to the damage caused to aquaculture farms by birds of prey, in particular cormorants, MEPs repeat their call for a European cormorant management plan.  They also stressed the need to provide compensation for damage caused by animals that are protected by law.

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