EU to boost organic aquaculture

The European Commission presented an action plan that aims to increase organic aquaculture significantly.

EU to boost organic aquaculture
March 26, 2021

The European Commission presented the Action Plan for the development of organic production. Its overall aim is to boost the production and consumption of organic products, to reach 25% of agricultural land under organic farming by 2030, as well as to increase organic aquaculture significantly.

The action plan is designed to provide the already fast-growing organic sector the right tools to achieve the 25% target. It puts forward 23 actions structured around three axes – boosting consumption, increasing production, and further improving the sustainability of the sector – to ensure balanced growth of the sector.

The new strategic guidelines for the sustainable development of EU aquaculture, to be adopted by the Commission in spring 2021, will promote organic aquaculture. In addition, the Commission encourages EU member states to include the increase of organic aquaculture among the objectives of their reviewed multi-annual national strategic plans for aquaculture. 

Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, said that “organic farming provides many benefits to the environment, contributing to healthy soils, reducing pollution of air and water, and improving biodiversity. At the same time, with demand growing faster than production over the last decade, the organic sector brings economic benefits to its players. The new Organic farming Action Plan will be a crucial instrument to set the path to achieve the targets of 25% of agricultural area under organic farming and of significant increase of organic aquaculture enshrined in the Biodiversity and the Farm to Fork Strategies. In addition to that, the new strategic guidelines for the sustainable development of EU aquaculture to be adopted by the Commission soon will promote organic aquaculture further.”

Animal nutrition and organic production

“Essential feed additives, such as vitamins, are increasingly produced by fermentation with genetically modified microorganisms (GMM). As this production technique is not in line with organic principles,  and as the feed additive industry might not apply for the authorization of additives produced from conventional micro-organisms, supply problems for essential additives in organic livestock farming are increasing,” the action plan states. “In addition to increasing the availability of locally sourced feed proteins, alternative sources of protein for feed should be found to ensure sustainable and diversified animal nutrition. These could include insects, marine feedstocks (e.g. algae) and byproducts from the bio-economy (e.g. waste from fisheries and aquaculture). Moreover, the standards of organic animal feed should be kept up to date.”

To address this, the Commission intends to:

  • support research and innovation under Horizon Europe on alternative sources of organic vitamins and other substances that might turn out to be necessary, and on alternative sources of protein keeping in mind their technical and economic feasibility.
  • explore means to support the application for feed additives produced without GMM, feed based on insects as well as marine feedstocks.
  • adopt an algae initiative in 2022 to support EU algae production and support the EU algae industry to ensure the supply of algae as alternative feed material for organic animal farming.


Photo source: European Commission.