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Oceans and fisheries
News announcement25 March 2021Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

New action plan will boost organic agriculture and aquaculture in Europe

Mussel clam food production © Jovana Milanko/Stocksy / Adobe Stock

The European Commission has published a new action plan to accelerate the development of the organic sector. The plan will boost the production and consumption of organic products, in order to reach 25% of agricultural land under organic farming by 2030, as well as a significant increase in organic aquaculture, as set in the EU’s Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies.

Structured around 23 actions, the plan provides the sector with the right tools and enhances the role of organics in the fight against climate change and sustainable resource management, contributing to healthier and biodiverse ecosystems.

Organic farming, including aquaculture, responds to the growing societal demand for quality food produced at high environmental and animal welfare standards. It can contribute to the protection of nature and help reverse the degradation of ecosystems, and plays an important role in the Green Deal ambition of transitioning to sustainable food production and consumption.

With only 4% of total aquaculture production (2015), organic aquaculture is still in its early stages in Europe. Lately, however, the sector seems to be bursting out of its niche. The EUMOFA EU Fish Market 2020 Edition reports a 20% growth in the consumption of organic aquaculture products over the last 5 years, up to even 48% in the case of France. A substantial part of the demand is met through imports coming from e.g. the UK and Norway. This highlights the growth potential and the business opportunities for EU producers.

The action plan: 3 axis, 23 actions

The action plan for the development of the organic sector puts forward actions structured around three axis:

  • boosting consumption while maintaining consumer trust
  • increasing production
  • improving further the sustainability of the sector

To further boost consumption, the action plan emphasizes the importance of communicating about organic farming and its benefits and includes actions such as EU promotion campaigns or strengthening the fight against fraudulent practices, as well as improving traceability.

In line with the new organic legislation, which will enter into application on 1 January 2022, the European Commission also aims at fostering local and small-scale processing. This is crucial to ensure organised and efficient supply chains for organic products and to make sure that small producers can find an outlet for their production.

The Commission will also support research and innovation, for example to improve animal nutrition in accordance with organic rules.

The final section of the action plan emphasises organic farming’s drive to lead by example in the transition to sustainable agriculture and aquaculture. This includes a more efficient use of resources, which remains a challenge for the whole agriculture and aquaculture sector.  The Commission will, for example, draft guidelines to minimise the use of plastics and will promote efficient use of water and energy.

Which instruments can contribute to boosting organic aquaculture?

The common fisheries policy provides for means to promote the sustainable development of EU aquaculture. The upcoming new Commission strategic guidelines for EU aquaculture (to be adopted next month) will promote organic aquaculture as one of the ways to increase the sustainability of aquaculture production.

The Commission also encourages EU Member States to include organic aquaculture in the (ongoing) review of their national strategic plans and support this type of aquaculture production with part of the funds available under the new European Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF 2021-2027).

Horizon Europe will continue to support research an innovation for organic aquaculture. In addition, the EU method of policy coordination for aquaculture (so called Open Method of Coordination) will continue to allow EU Member States and stakeholders to exchange best practices and innovative approaches to further develop organic aquaculture.

Organic aquaculture production in the EU

EU countries with the largest organic aquaculture production volumes in 2019[1]

Country

Production

Ireland

27 264 Mt

Italy

9 608 Mt

The Netherlands

8 536 Mt

Spain

7 062 Mt

Bulgaria

5 004 Mt

Hungary

2 970 Mt

Romania

1 493 Mt

Greece

1 267 Mt

 

In Europe (2015) the main species produced under organic standards were[2]

Top 5 organic aquaculture species

Production (Metric tons, rounded)

% of EU total production

Main producing countries

Salmon

16 000 Mt

9%

Ireland

Mussels

20 000 Mt

4%

Ireland, Italy, Denmark

Carp

6 000 Mt

8%

Hungary, Romania, Lithuania

Trout

5 000 Mt

3%

France, Denmark

Seabass and seabream

2 000 Mt

1%

France, Greece, Spain

More information

European Green Deal: Commission presents actions to boost organic production

 

 

[1] Report “The world of organic agriculture – statistics and emerging trends 2021”, FiBL& IFOAM – Organics International

[2] EUMOFA study on organic aquaculture (2017)

Details

Publication date
25 March 2021
Author
Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries