Innovative solutions can sustain aquaculture growth in southern and eastern Europe
The Castle of Duino near Trieste in Italy was the setting for the Eurofish-organised conference “Future Aquaculture – Opportunities and Challenges in Southern and Eastern Europe“ on 14 and 15 September 2006.
The event was supported by the European Commission and Italy’s Ministry for Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policies, as well as the Italian Fish Farmers’ Association and Skretting.
The Future Aquaculture Conference provided a comprehensive overview of aquaculture from a global and regional point of view, focusing mainly on Central Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean.
The representative of FAO, Jochen Nierentz, illustrated the increasing global importance of aquaculture, showing how production has grown from less than a million tonnes in the early 50s to 60 million tonnes in 2004 valued at USD70bn.
Growth in southern and eastern Europe has been modest compared with Asia and Latin America, averaging 4.3% between 2000 and 2004. But, as was pointed out by Laszlo Varadi, HAKI Institute, Hungary, and other speakers, there is potential for higher growth rates if the challenges posed by water usage, environmental concerns, species diversification and market opportunities are addressed.
Marketing new species a challenge
The economic and management conditions for profitable aquaculture production were presented by Mario Pazzaglia, Agroittica Lombarda, Italy, who also analysed the challenges and risks related to producing and marketing new species.
This is an issue that occupies the sector in the Mediterranean, said Bertrand Kirsch, Culmarex, Spain, as he described in his presentation how the industry in the region was trying to secure stable market conditions and at the same time respond to competition from other coastal activities.
The regional overview was completed by a description of the Turkish marine aquaculture by Levent Kayi, Fjord Marin, Turkey, confirming a number of common features for the region.
The real life issues experienced by fish farmers, who are facing high production costs, production fees, limited water and space resources, insufficient financing as well as sanitary and environmental requirements, were illustrated by Neda Skakelja, Croatian Chamber of Economy, Croatia, for marine aquaculture and Luz Arregui, Grupo Tres Mares, Spain, for freshwater trout aquaculture. Constantin Vamvakas, European Commission, recalled that management of aquaculture was mainly in the hands of individual states, but brought attention to the new European Fisheries Fund (EFF) which gives the member states good opportunities to support aquaculture, provided this is included in the national plans.
Aquaculture development a priority in the Mediterranean
A panel discussion with government officials and representatives of associations highlighted the importance of innovation in the sector and considered the role of aquaculture in the future maritime policy of the European Union.
Examples of national planning strategies were illustrated by Vlasta Franičević, Croatia and Clive Dove, Spain. François René from the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean how the GFCM deals with the priorities for aquaculture development in the Mediterranean.
The opportunities for raising awareness of aquaculture through stakeholder involvement were presented by Alistair Lane, European Aquaculture Society. Giovanni Serrini, Skretting and David Fletcher, United Kingdom, presented two sides of sustainable aquaculture technologies: the supply of feed and recirculation technology. An overview of European research on aquaculture was given by Antoine Dosdat, European Fisheries and Aquaculture Research Organisation, and examples of regional cooperation and research projects were presented by Aldo Tasselli, Regione Emilia-Romagna, Italy, and Vincenzo Zonno, University of Lecce, Italy.
The conclusions and recommendations of the Conference will be submitted to governments and the European Commission.
The conference drew 120 participants from 20 countries, representing fish farming enterprises, industry, professional associations and governments.