Tal om Blå tillväxt och fiskedoling, EU-kommissionens konferens den 24 maj i Bryssel
Commissioner Vella, General Director Hoogeven, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for inviting me here today in my capacity as Vice chair of the European Parliament Fisheries committee.
Commissioner Vella has indeed brought some interesting news to us today about the launch of the website “EU Aquaculture Online” - where all information of European Aquaculture will be available on-line. I hope it will be an efficient tool for sharing of best sustainable practice and an inspiration for new techniques to decrease the environmental footprint.
It is true that Europe in an international perspective has a very small aquaculture production compared to the leading countries, especially the Asian ones. However it is important to also look beyond the figures and not only concentrate on volumes. Extensive aquaculture has in many countries created huge environmental problems with destroyed coastline and poor quality products as a result. In addition sanitary and social conditions are not respected.
That it why European investments in aquaculture must be intelligent and not repeat mistakes that has been made by others. To keep us on the right track we have some overarching principles in the EU, like:
- the preservation of good environmental status as defined by the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the Water Frame Work Directive.
- The precautionary principle which is at the core of the EU treaty
- Marine spatial planning, Integrated Coastal Zone Management and Birds and Habitats Directive which should guide the identifications of areas where aquaculture can take place with minimal environmental impact
This is the only way to guarantee a long-term viable and sustainable aquaculture sector.
But it also means that our higher environmental and social standards shouldn’t be undercut by cheap imports. This concern has been raised several times by the European Parliament. Not least in an initiative report by our committee chair Mr Cadec, where the Parliament stresses that it should be of the key aims of EU policy to ensure that imported products meet the same requirements that apply to EU production in every respect. So I turn to Commissioner Vella and ask him: Is the COM ready to include social and environmental conditions on the imports?
My biggest concern is yet with the need for feed. A growing European Aquaculture sector will also put pressure on the stocks of wild fish for feed production. It is of highest importance that we continue research for non-fished ingredients in feed. And as pointed out in the Parliament resolution on aquaculture: European aquaculture should give priority to herbivorous species and carnivorous species, which can thrive on reduced consumption of fishmeal and oils.
I believe that a minimum standard for European aquaculture should be that all aquaculture facilities need to be net producers of fish protein.
Aquaculture is often mentioned as a way to reduce the pressure on the wild fish by providing an alternative source of seafood. However no comprehensive study has been made to underpin that statement. Even if there is some very good examples - for instance regarding aquaculture of sturgeon, which has replaced the capture of wild sturgeons -to my knowledge, no study has been made to see if aquaculture of the big commercialised species such as Atlantic salmon and Sea bass is really reducing the pressure on the wild fish. Does it take any pressure of other fisheries; either same species, similar species or in general? So I turn to Commissioner Vella again and ask him to commission such a study. I think it would be of highest interest because it would give us valuable information on what way the European aquaculture should take.
There are several interesting projects of research on new techniques, new feed, better labelling that will help us to develop a sustainable aquaculture. It is my firm believe that the only way forward for European aquaculture is to invest in quality.