CURRENT REGULATION LANDSCAPE
The European Union acknowledges the potential of the aquaculture sector to secure its position in the global market, become a reference to circular economy, and create thousands of jobs in Europe
The European Union acknowledges the potential of the aquaculture sector to secure its position in the global market, become a reference to circular economy, and create thousands of jobs in Europe. The European Union has encouraged sustainable aquaculture through policies and research initiatives. The lighthouse of these policies is the Blue Growth Strategy (2012), the Integrated Maritime Policy’s contribution to achieve the goals of the Europe 2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
This initiative includes additional strategies such as the EU Atlantic Action Plan (2014-2020), Horizon 2020 (under which framework IMPAQT is developed) and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), among others.
Five key messages regarding IMTA in Europe
Despite the efforts undertaken by the European Union and the aquaculture stakeholders in recent years, certain messages remain about IMTA in Europe which need to be addressed and understood:
2. General change of mindset is needed from production to consumption, from policy to investment, and from high IT to territorial planning.
3. Need to understand that, considering the impact of climate change, the pollution of the oceans, and the alarming effects of intensive wild fisheries, aquaculture is a fundamental sector for the maintenance of food security and sustainability.
5. IMTA systems are a circular economy paradigm. They contribute to making European aquaculture more sustainable and competitive, thus unlocking green growth within the European aquaculture sector.
Seven specific barriers for IMTA at the EU Level
Thanks to the work performed in previous European projects, such as INTEGRATE (INTERREG) and IDREEM (EU FP7), IMPAQT can build upon gathered knowledge when addressing remaining obstacles regarding IMTA production in the European legislation. In this sense, and considering the above projects, the following bottlenecks have been identified and selected as aspects that can be involved in the project´s regulation and standardization objectives:
The confidence of the consumers in aquaculture products depends on numerous parameters and there are varied factors affecting their consumption. Food safety, food quality, health impacts, animal welfare or sustainability are aspects directly associated to the rising awareness and they are all holistically considered in the IMPAQT project.
Regarding the sustainability dimension, aquaculture products consumers are increasing the aware of sustainability issues, especially in Western and Northern EU Countries (European Market Observatory study, 2017). The sustainability of the seafood products arising from the IMPAQT project is being addressed though the corresponding assessment carried out in WP5, which will allow communicating the environmental, social and economic indicators of these products.
Whenever this assessment is based on standardised methodologies and is verified, seafood consumers might increase their confidence in these products, since transparent and robust information on the sustainability profile is provided. In addition to this, the sustainability assessment developed in the IMPAQT project might also mean a starting point for the pilot’s sites that are seeking to work under some existing certification schemes (such as ASC, Global GAP, GAA).
These certifications are informed to the consumers through the corresponding labels, which show how “good” the farming methods are, mainly for the environment dimension. In this context, it would be relevant to assess how the existing standards recognise the IMTA systems as a good environmental practice