The European Union aims to boost its aquaculture production in order to meet the growing demand for seafood as well as to create economic growth and employment. But even though significant progress has been made to improve the sector's environmental performance, various environmental challenges remain to be solved. Seas At Risk provides regular input to EU aquaculture policy processes in order to ensure that the sector develops in an environmentally sustainable manner.
While global aquaculture has seen impressive growth figures of around 7 % per annum, European aquaculture growth has stagnated the past decade, currently providing only 10% of seafood consumed in the EU. Various incentives are therefore being developed to increase EU aquaculture production. The EU’s Blue Growth agenda for economic growth and employment has singled out the sector as one of its priorities. Several measures to stimulate aquaculture are included in the Common Fisheries Policy and the new European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.
Seas At Risk is in particular concerned about the heavy dependence of the sector on marine proteins and oils to fulfil feed requirements and its link to overfishing, the continued use of unknown quantities of medicals and chemicals, ineffective disease management, and the wider ecosystem effects of production which are as yet uncertain due to the lack of research and credible data. Also, as long as the EU continues to practice ranching of IUCN listed endangered species such as Bluefin tuna and European eel, the aquaculture sector can hardly stand the test of sustainability.
Together with other stakeholders, Seas At Risk is currently working on the creation of the European Aquaculture Advisory Council, in line with the requirements of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy.