How sustainable fisheries and aquaculture can contribute to food security
The Cambridge Judge Business School organised the Symposium on 'Securing Food and Water', to bring together leading business people, academics, policymakers and representatives of NGOs and international organisations to discuss the challenges presented by the uneven distribution of global resources, the increasing demand for food, and shortages of adequate, safe drinking water.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki addressed a message to the participants:
Good afternoon, dear participants,
and thank you for devoting your attention to the paramount issue of food supply today. Regrettably, I am unable to join you in person; but I am very keen on pointing to the issues we are facing in the fisheries sector.
We are eating more and more fish: three percent more every year, according to FAO. Also our planet's population is projected to reach 9 billion. For these people to have as good a diet as ourselves, we will need to maintain or even increase the availability of fish.
Far from me suggesting that we should eat less of it! Quite the contrary in fact: the issue is that the fishing industry is underperforming. We know that stocks would produce more if fished sustainably. This effort towards sustainability should be the focus of all our efforts.
The other thing we can do is preventing waste. Substantial amounts of fish have to be thrown back to the sea, dead, because they were fished unintentionally and cannot be brought to land.
The reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy that I have tabled last year, aims to stop the wasteful practice of discarding unwanted fish. It also foresees the obligation to conform to a conservation standard known as maximum sustainable yield, allowing the population to continue to reproduce normally. This would increase our industry's fishing opportunities and their profit: more fish and more money!
Our proposal has also an external aspect. In general our ambition is to implement when fishing outside Europe the same rules that we have for our own waters. This is also connected with our new market policy, labelling and traceability rules to secure a level playing field between our fishermen and our neighbours.
We, the policy makers, carry a dual responsibility: we must make sure that populations are sustainably fed on one hand, and that the industry is competitive and environmentally sound on the other. Aquaculture can solve a big part of both challenges.
The natural productivity of the oceans has its limits; and with demand on the rise, the EU depends more and more on imports of seafood.
In Europe, aquaculture is a success story: high environmental standards, high-quality products, a high degree of animal health and consumer protection... Europe is at the forefront from a technological viewpoint, yet the industry is stagnating.
Through several novelties, my reform will create the conditions for this segment to boom. We have an opportunity for growth here, and we cannot afford to miss it.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I only have singled out a couple of problems, but I wanted to make it clear to you that fish supply is a complex issue, with many interlinked problems.
The reform of the Common Fisheries Policy is a comprehensive set of measures designed to ensure seafood supply on one hand and green and smart growth for the industry on the other; a combination that will ultimately benefits consumers in every corner of Europe.
We must go for real change and make European fisheries fit for the 21st century!
I wish your proceedings every success and look forward to hearing your results.