Fishery and aquaculture products play a significant role in our diet as a valuable source of protein-rich healthy food. The consumption of seafood products in the world represents almost 20% of the total animal protein consumption.
The European Union is the third largest seafood producer in the world, but Europe is also the biggest importer of seafood products – imports make up 60% of total European consumption. The fisheries sector is faced with many challenges such as: depletion of several fish stocks, outbreaks of invasive species, competition from third countries, conflicts with other coastal activities for space allocation or negative environmental impacts. However, through focused research and innovation, the EU can address these challenges and maximise the potential of our natural resources.
DG Research is a major facilitator and funder of research in fisheries and aquaculture. Funding is provided through EU-level advanced research projects managed under the Research Framework Programmes (FP). FP7 also promotes cross-sectoral research in the marine sciences (between themes such as Energy, Environment and Transport), providing us with much broader and holistic knowledge about the seas and oceans.
The fisheries and aquaculture sectors rely on and interact with a variety of EU policies: from the common fisheries policy to the integrated maritime policy, from quality and safety of seafood products to fresh and marine water quality :
- Facts and figures on fisheries and aquaculture in the EU.
Common Fisheries Policy
The European Commission launched a reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) in 2009 which will enter into force in 2013. Since its inception in 1983, the CFP is a heavily science-based policy, and current discussions surrounding its reform emphasise the crucial role of research and scientific advice for improving decision-making in EU fisheries management. It also clearly recognises the need to progress towards an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM).
- More information on Fisheries.
- More information on the Common Fisheries Policy.
- More information on the role of fisheries research within the CFP.
Aquaculture – fish farming
In 2009, the European Commission published a Communication to give new impetus to the sustainable development of European aquaculture. The aquaculture sector in Europe has a high potential for innovation and technology development; but it also clearly needs scientific support on policy-related challenges such as health and welfare of cultured species, environmental issues, product quality and safety.
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European maritime policy considers all sea-related activities in an integrated way with a view to supporting the growth of maritime activities in an environmentally sustainable manner. The European Strategy for Marine and Maritime Research , which is its research pillar, promotes better integration and cross-fertilisation between marine and maritime research disciplines, better synergies between the Commission and Member States and new forms of marine and maritime research governance.
Environment - Marine Strategy Framework Directive
Adopted in June 2008, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive is the environmental pillar of the Integrated Maritime Policy for the EU. Research on living aquatic resources contributes to support for the EU objective of achieving good environmental status of marine waters by 2020.
- More information on Marine Strategy Framework Directive
Seafood safety and animal health related policies
Fisheries and aquaculture research also covers seafood safety and quality, feeds, fish health and welfare, which are dealt with by the Commission’s Health and Consumers Directorate as well as the European Food and Safety Authority.
Detailed summaries of European aquaculture and fisheries related policies can be found on the website of the FP6 PROFET policy project.
- More information on Seafood safety and animal health related policies