Acuinuga. Acuicultura y Nutrición de Galicia


31-01-13 |

European Aquaculture: the path for growth

A splendid assortment of policy makers, civil servants, NGOs and aquabusiness-related individuals gathered in A Coruña (NW Spain) in November 2012 in order to discuss the potential and challenges for the growth of European Aquaculture. It was clear that a strong impulse was required in order to breach the seafood import gap in the European Union which accounts for 65% of total yearly consumption, or 8 million tonnes with an estimate annual value of 40 billion euros. Based on current labour productivity  and investment levels, if European aquaculture was to replace this import deficit, it would result in the generation of dozens of thousands of directly related, full-time jobs.

But if our dependency on foreign seafood imports is increasing, our external dependency on feed raw matters is even worse. Thus if this potential for growth within the European aquaculture sector was to be realized, there would be a multiplicative effect of this impact on the agricultural sector of the EU, which would be required to supply millions of tonnes of locally produced raw matters such as wheat, maize, flax, soya, rapeseed and many other nutrients for the sustainable supply of these animal husbandry activities, exponentially increasing the impact on the local job market. God knows we really need those jobs -particularly within the rural environment.  

We have heard this many times of course, with very little consequence.  And our skepticism is solidly anchored in the bipolar messages that European authorities put out when addressing the fisheries lobbies and the aquaculture lobby - if such a thing really exists. As long as they choose to allocate many more public resources and political sensitivity to a fishing industry that belongs to the past, and does not retain the growth potential that our aquaculture industry offers for future development, our prospects are grim. The generation of sustainable growth, local jobs and the realization of fresh market opportunities requires vision, capability and political courage. Unfortunately, very little of these ingredients was on offer in A Coruña.