Aquaculture: level-playing field for EU and imported products is needed

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By Milthon Lujan

Increasing EU aquaculture production and applying the same strict criteria to imported products as to the EU ones were the main proposals of the non-binding resolution adopted on Tuesday.

The EU needs to increase its production in the aquaculture sector, in particular with the aim of reducing pressure on natural fishing grounds, say Fisheries MEPs, adding that freshwater aquaculture is still an insufficiently explored opportunity for improving food security and developing rural areas.

Stricter criteria for imported products

MEPs call for imported aquaculture products to be required to meet the same environmental, food safety and socio-labour standards and respect for human rights that EU operators must meet. They regret the fact that there is still no level playing field in this domain stressing that dangerous distortions of competition are a serious problem for EU operators.

Informing consumers on lower-level standards applicable to imported products

Fisheries MEPs call on the Commission and the member states to launch an EU-wide information campaign for consumers and businesses on aquaculture regarding the differences between the stringent and comprehensive standards on the European market and the lower-level standards applicable to imported products from third countries. Emphasis should be given to the problems caused for food safety and public health by the introduction into the Union of particularly resistant micro-organisms and antimicrobial resistance (AMR), they say.

A specific label for the recognition of products from EU sustainable aquaculture should be created to ensure transparency for consumers, by reinforcing traceability, add the text.

Next steps

The non-legislative resolution drafted by Carlos ITURGAIZ (EPP, ES) was adopted by 21 votes to 2 against with no abstentions. It will be put to the plenary vote in June session (tbc).

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European aquaculture production remained stable at around 1.2 million tonnes over the period 1995-2012, peaking at 1.4 million tonnes in 2000. In 2020 it stood at 1.25 million tonnes, accounting for 20% of fisheries production. The value of European aquaculture production reached EUR 3.6 billion in 2011.

The main aquaculture producers among EU member states are Spain (22%), France (17%), the UK (16%), Italy (13%) and Greece (8.5%), accounting for 77% of total aquaculture production in 2011.

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