By SeafoodSource staff
Published on 06 November, 2012
European policy makers urgently need to tackle some of the critical issues that are holding back Europe’s aquaculture industry, according to the Federation of European Aquaculture Producers (FEAP). The federation’s president, Arnault Chaperon, told SeafoodSource at a conference in Brussels on 7 November that creating a level playing field for producers was vital in order to make the sector more competitive.
“We’re here today to discuss how we can boost EU aquaculture in the next few years,” he explained. “We have the know-how, the training and the research. We also have the consumers, but we are unable to develop production. This is crazy!”
European aquaculture, the cultivation of seafood species and seaweeds, creates some 2.6 million metric tons of product each year, valued at EUR 7 billion (USD 9 billion. However, FEAP believes that poor regulation and a lack of visibility continue to hamper the sector’s potential. The purpose of this conference, entitled Aquaculture in Motion 2012, was to raise the profile of the sector among decision makers in the EU.
“We have to analyze the legislative burden on industry,” said European Aquaculture Technology and Innovation Platform Chairman Gustavo Larrazabal. “There are at present no consistent rules, and this puts European producers at a disadvantage.”
One example is feed. There are certain limitations in Europe on feed ingredients due to the recent BSE (Mad Cow Disease) crisis. “But EU consumers are already consuming goods that don’t abide by these rules, because they don’t apply to imports,” said Larrazabal.
Turkey provides another example of what FEAP members said is an uneven playing field. “Turkey provides grants to producers who import into the EU,” said Chaperon. “However, producers in the EU are unable to receive such a grant, and what is more, Turkey places a duty on imports from the EU. As an accession country [a country applying for EU membership], we feel this is not right.”
The bottom line, according to FEAP Secretary General Courtney Hough, is that aquaculture remains under the radar of EU policy makers, which has led to a degree of stagnation in the industry. This is something that FEAP aims to change. “We need clearer recognition,” he said. "So this conference represents the end of discussion, and the beginning of action. We want people to become more aware that aquaculture provides a safe, affordable food."