The European Commission today issued strategic guidelines with a view to boost the development of EU aquaculture. The Guidelines aim to coordinate efforts across the EU by presenting a series of voluntary steps that Member States, the Commission, and stakeholders can take to promote the aquaculture industry that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.
As European Commissioner for Maritime Affaires and Fisheries Maria Damanaki stated: “Today, obtaining a licence for a new farm can take up to three years, which obviously deters investors. I want to work with Member States to cut red tape and help the competitiveness of this sector building upon the high level of consumer and environmental protection we currently have".
More specific, the Commission, in cooperation with all stakeholders has decided to address four main challenges facing the aquaculture sector: a necessity to reduce bureaucracy and uncertainties for operators, a need to facilitate access to space and water, a requirement to increase the sector's competitiveness and finally, a need to improve the level playing field by exploiting the good quality of EU fish products.
Today, only 10% of the EU seafood consumption comes from aquaculture. In order to boost aquaculture, the Commission plans to facilitate licensing to start new aquaculture businesses and to guarantee fish farmers proper access to space and water while minimizing impact on the environment and on other economic activities. Moreover, the top-quality products of the European aquaculture can easily create a competitive advantage since consumers are often ready to pay a premium for high quality and sustainability.