Food from the Oceans

Scientific advice in the area of food and biomass from the oceans


Responding to a request from the European Commission formulated by Karmenu Vella - Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors investigated how more food and biomass can be obtained from the oceans in a way that does not deprive future generations of their benefits.

The aim of the Scientific Opinion on this subject is to inform maritime, fisheries and aquaculture policy development and implementation in the coming years to help increase the quantity of sustainable food coming from the ocean. This includes the implementation of the EU's Integrated Maritime Policy (policies impacting on EU marine and coastal areas), the Common Fisheries Policy and preparations for whatever succeeds the present European Maritime and Fisheries Fund under the post-2020 Multi-Annual Financial Framework for EU policy priorities.

The scoping paper for this Scientific Opinion was approved following discussion at the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors’ meeting on 24-25 November 2016.

The Scientific Opinion is informed by a scientific evidence review report produced by the Horizon 2020-funded Science Advice for Policy by European Academies (SAPEA) consortium. A co-ordination group was established by the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors to which SAPEA experts Professors Dag Lorents Aksnes and Poul Holm were invited and were involved in monitoring the evidence review process. The Commission found that none of the interests declared constituted a conflict of interest.

These declarations of interest were published at the same time as the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors’ scientific advice and remained available for consultation for six months.

Declarations of interest are retained by the Commission in line with Regulation 45/2001

Scientific Output

In their latest scientific opinion, the HLG advises on how more food and biomass can be obtained from the oceans in a way that does not deprive future generations of their benefits.

The recommendations in the Opinion call for mainstreaming a responsible culture and capture approach to harvesting food from the ocean into broad food system policy frameworks at EU and global level. To sustain wild capture and develop mariculture, the HLG recommends a more integrated, participative, systems-based approaches to policy and planning. The HLG stresses the need to increase harvest at lower trophic levels and picks out mariculture as the area with most potential for growth as well as being in need of higher priority and more strategic consideration in the EU.

The aim of the Opinion is to inform maritime, fisheries and aquaculture policy development and implementation in the coming years to help increase the quantity of sustainable food coming from the ocean. This includes preparations for whatever succeeds the present European Maritime and Fisheries Fund under the post-2020 Multi-Annual Financial Framework for EU policy priorities.

Policy Impact

‘Food security through competitive and sustainable aquaculture’ - one of the four main objectives in the Commission’s proposal for the 2021-2017 European Marine and Fisheries Fund which was adopted on 12th June 2018 - is clearly based on and consistent with the advice of the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors contained in its Scientific Opinion on Food from the Oceans.

The European Parliament Resolution “Towards a sustainable and competitive European aquaculture sector: current status and future challenges”, coincidentally also adopted on 12 June 2018, cites and endorses several of the recommendations of the same Scientific Opinion.

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Related topic activities

Annual General Assembly of the Spanish Association of Aquaculture Businesses (APROMAR)

8 May 2018, APROMAR site, Madrid

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© APROMAR – Carlos Iturgaiz, Member of the European Parliament

In the opening keynote speech, Carlos Iturgaiz, Member of the European Parliament, presented the forthcoming European Parliament resolution ‘towards a sustainable and competitive aquaculture sector in Europe’ expected to be adopted in June. He cited the scientific opinion on Food from the Oceans by the Chief Scientific Advisors as an important reference supporting many of the messages put forward in the resolution and which itself explicitly endorses many of the recommendations in the SAM scientific opinion. This was followed by a dedicated presentation of the Food from the Oceans scientific opinion by James Gavigan on behalf of the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors. Altogether, there were four keynote speeches in the opening morning of the General Assembly.

Food from the Oceans, a look into our future

25 April 2018, Seafood Expo Global, Brussels

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Panel members of the Food from the Oceans, a look into our future session

The recent SAM work on ' Food from the oceans  PDF icon 608 KB ' was showcased during this event which featured European Commissioner Karmenu Vella, responsible for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. In his speech, he acknowledged the importance and value of the SAM advice, reiterating that aquaculture is the activity with the highest growth potential for meeting the world’s growing nutritional needs. He was joined by other high-level speakers who discussed the future of sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, at both EU and global scale including Professor Rolf-Dieter Heuer (Chair of the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors) who presented the SAM Scientific Opinion on Food from the Oceans.

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"Europe, the Ocean, and Feeding the World": Seas, Rivers, Islands & Coastal Areas (SEARICA) intergroup

20 March 2018,European Parliament, Brussels

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© European Parliament – SEARICA Intergroup Meeting

The event show-cased the Group’s Scientific Opinion on Food from the Oceans, with Prof Carina Keskitalo presenting the Opinion in one of the panel discussions.

An opening commentary was delivered on behalf of Commissioner Carlos Moedas by a member of his cabinet (Robert Schroder) and the closing commentary was delivered by Commissioner Karmenu Vella.

The full programme for the event and the speakers’ presentations can be found on the SEARICA site.

More Food from the Sea?

14 March 2018, Academy of Sciences, Hamburg

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© SAPEA – The speaker's panel

Rolf Heuer – Chair of the European Commission’s Group of Chief Scientific Advisors – presented and discussed the Food From the Oceans (link) Opinion with a variety of experts. These included Gerd Kraus - Director of the Thünen Institute for Sea Fisheries in Hamburg; Karin Lochte - Member of the Academy of Sciences in Hamburg; Heike Vesper - Head of International Marine Conservation, WWF Germany; and Hildegard Westphal - Scientific Director of the Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Research in Bremen and Professor of Geology of the Tropics (University of Bremen). Noteworthy items included the necessity for a global view on sustainability, the strengthening of protected areas to allow full recovery and the need for public debate and consensus on EU fisheries.

Blue Innovation: Oceans to feed the planet, 27 February 2018, Brussels

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©Science Business 2018; SAM High Level Group and SAPEA, presenting 'Food from the Oceans' reports

The Food from the Oceans scientific opinion and evidence review report were discussed during this Science Business organised event, “Blue Innovation: Oceans to feed the planet”. SAM High Level Group Deputy Chair Professor Pearl Dykstra and SAPEA Chair of the Working Group 1 Professor Poul Holm participated in discussion with the members of the Science Business network that includes industry, research and policy makers. The meeting report will be published shortly.

EU Aquaculture: Farmed in EU Regions Meeting, 2 February 2018, Brussels

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SAM at EU Aquaculture: Farmed in EU Regions Meeting

The European Commission and the European Committee of the Regions jointly organised the EU Aquaculture Farmed in EU Regions meeting to discuss the sustainable development of aquaculture in European regions. The meeting aimed to make regional and local level decision makers aware of the potential of aquaculture, as well as of the difficulties and opportunities facing businesses in the sector. The Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM) High Level Group Scientific Opinion on Food from the Oceans was prominent in discussion, notably in the introductory speeches by Commissioner Vella (Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries) and MEP Carlos Iturgaiz.

Commissioner Vella said: "How will we feed the global population without putting intolerable strain on our natural environment? That is why I asked the High Level Scientists to produce the Food from the Oceans report. The answer lies in farming our seafood. Of course we must continue our work on sustainable wild fisheries, but if we are to get more seafood, it has to come from farming."

The Opinion itself was presented by Carina Keskitalo, Member of the High Level Group of Scientific Advisors. Professor Dag Aksnes, on behalf of the Science Advice for Policy by European Academies (SAPEA) consortium summarised its Evidence Review Report which informed the Opinion.

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EU Council Working Party Internal and External Fisheries Policy

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SAM at EU Aquaculture: Farmed in EU Regions Meeting

On 11 January 2018, James Gavigan, SAM secretariat, presented the Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM) High Level Group’s Scientific Opinion on Food from the Oceans to the EU Council working party on internal and external fisheries policy. Delegates noted the relevance of many items in the report.

 

 

 

European Parliament Committee on Fisheries hearing welcomed SAM HLG scientific opinion 'Food from the Oceans'

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SAM at the EP PECH Fisheries hearing

Pearl Dykstra, deputy-chair of the Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM) High Level Group, presented aquaculture related recommendations in the Food from the Oceans Scientific Opinion to the European Parliament Committee on Fisheries hearing, chaired by Carlos Iturgaiz (EPP), 11 January, 2018.

Representatives of DG MARE, the Federation of European Aquaculture Producers (FEAP), the European Mollusc Producers’ Association, and the Aquaculture Advisory Council (AAC) also presented their views during the event. Among her conclusions, Pearl Dykstra highlighted the relevance of food production from the oceans in decreasing pressure on land based agriculture and in contributing to the achievement of relevant United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, related to hunger, food security and the protection, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems.

DG RTD 20th Standing Committee on Agricultural Research (SCAR) - Fish meeting

Another opportunity to share the outcome of the SAM HLG Scientific Opinion on Food from the Oceans took place last 12 December 2017. James Gavigan, SAM Policy Officer, addressed the Standing Committee on Agricultural Research (SCAR) that currently represents 37 different countries, the members being ministries (or other organisations such as research councils) from all EU Member States. SCAR is a source of advice on European agricultural and wider bioeconomy research.

DG MARE Aquaculture workshop: Good practice and exchange of information on EU aquaculture

On 5 December 2017, James Gavigan, SAM Policy Officer, made a summary presentation of the SAM HLG Scientific Opinion on Food from the Oceans focusing on aquaculture aspects, right after its handover by the High level Group of Advisors to the European Commission on 30 November. In the framework of the Open Method of Coordination the European Commission aims at facilitating exchange of good practices among Member States and developing common policy solutions to shared problems. To that end, the European Commission works informally with Member States through technical seminars based on a mutual learning process regarding Aquaculture.

DG MARE Scientific, Technical & Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF)

Last 17 November 2017, James Gavigan, SAM Policy Officer presented the state of play on the draft SAM HLG Scientific Opinion on "Food from the Oceans" to the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) which provides scientific advice on the detailed implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

Stakeholder meeting on Food from the Oceans – a key step for the SAM High Level Group to deliver the next scientific opinion

On Monday, 13 November, took place the SAM HLG Stakehholder meeting regarding the Food from the Oceans topic. The purpose of this meeting was for SAM HLG to discuss the draft recommendations expected to form the basis of its Scientific Opinion on Food from the Oceans with representatives of relevant interest groups and some policy actors.

The main findings of the Evidence Review Report prepared by the Science Advice for Policy European Academies consortium (SAPEA) underpinning the Opinion were also presented and discussed. Following presentations by members of the SAM HLG (Carina Keskitalo and Janusz Bujnicki) and SAPEA representatives, the floor was opened to collect reactions, comments and questions from the stakeholders.

The SAM HLG took note of the points and answered queries and questions of clarification raised by the participants. On the whole, the reactions and comments largely supported the intention of the SAM HLG to call for, in its Opinion, an increased focus on mariculture, sustainable capture and culture at lower trophic levels; and for more integrated, participative, knowledge- and systems-based approaches to related policy and planning.

The publication of the SAM HLG Opinion and the SAPEA Evidence Review Report on Food from the Oceans is expected on 30th November 2017.

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Expert workshop on Food from the Ocean - paving the way to a Scientific Opinion by the High Level Group of Scientific Advisors

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The participants of the Workshop

A key milestone on the way to preparing a Scientific Opinion on how to sustainably harvest more Food from the Ocean was an expert workshop which took place on 14 September 2017 in Brussels. The aim of this workshop was to discuss and review the key findings of the SAPEA evidence review report and to identify points to potentially prioritise in the SAM HLG Scientific Opinion. In particular, the workshop discussed the draft report in terms of the feasibility and practical applicability of the evidence gathered for increasing sustainable ocean harvest whether from marine aquaculture or wild capture.

This event brought together the lead member of the Scientific Advice Mechanism High Level Group (SAM HLG) for this Opinion, members of the Science Advice for Policy by European Academies (SAPEA) Working Groups and other experts from industry, civil society, specialised agencies, etc. as well as some observers from the European Commission. It was co-organised by the SAM Unit and SAPEA.

Food from the Oceans event in Hamburg

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Rolf-Dieter Heuer (credit:AdwHH/Schopka)

Public engagement activities of the Scientific Advice for Policy by European Academies’ (SAPEA) Food from the Oceans extended to another European coastal city. Together with the Union of German Sciences and Humanities and the Academy of Sciences in Hamburg, SAPEA organised a panel debate on the topic Food from the Oceans – Developments, Challenges, Prognosis on 5 October 2017. The event slotted in with the German Year of Science 2016*17 Seas and Oceans conceptualised by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research which aims to explore the many facets of the oceans in various projects bringing scientists and the general public together.

The Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM) was represented by Rolf-Dieter Heuer, Chair of the Group and SAPEA was represented by Ole Peterson. The panel debate consisted of a member of the SAPEA Working Group on Food from the Oceans as well as other eminent experts on the oceans. Issues covered in the debate included the role and responsibility of the German fishing industry, the sustainable use of ocean resources and effective governance of the seas.

Food from the Oceans in Cardiff Festival

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Courtesy SAPEA

Public talks on the theme Food from the Oceans were hosted the 25th anniversary of the renovations of the Norwegian Church in Cardiff, UK on 14 - 15 July 2017. The Annual Cardiff International Food and Drink Festival, which attracts around 80,000 people, was taken as an opportunity to present this topic. A total of 7 speakers from Norway and UK provided the presentations aimed at consumers. A public debate on the theme of ''Can we get more food from the ocean?'' formed a key interactive opportunity for those attending.

The Academia Europaea Cardiff Knowledge Hub organised this event, in a close collaboration with SAPEA (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies), the SAM (Science Advice Mechanism) Unit, the Learned Society of Wales and the Hordaland County in Norway.

Professor Carina Keskitalo, member of the European Commission High Level Group of the Scientific Advice Mechanism and Chair of the Food from the Oceans Steering Group attended the talks and was joined for part of the event by a staff representative of the SAM Unit.

Seafood from Bergen was available at the Food from the Oceans stall ensuring a continuous flow of visitors.

UNESCO Sustainable Gastronomy Day: Food from the Oceans tasting

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The City of Bergen (UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy) hosted on 18 June 2017 the Sustainable Gastronomy Day with a wide range of activities to explore food from the oceans.

One scientific and one public seminar were organised jointly by the Academia Europaea Bergen Hub and the Science Advice for Policy by European Academies (SAPEA):

  • Seminar 1 presented themes of common use of algae in meals, and fisheries and possible use of bycatch fish and products
  • Seminar 2 discussed how more food and biomass can be obtained from the oceans in a way that does not deprive future generations of their benefits

These activities originate from their collaboration on food from the oceans with the European Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM).

There was a marketplace on the quayside with stands from local restaurants where people could do tastings of bycatch and seaweed (with fishing boats arriving to the harbour for the occasion). One stand featured the SAPEA and SAM banners and leaflets promoting that experts from a range of disciplines from all over Europe are exploring the question 'How can more food and biomass be obtained from the oceans in a way that does not deprive future generations of their benefits?'. Prof Matthias Kaiser, SAPEA Food From the Ocean Working Group 2 on Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Bergen, took part in the seminars. SAPEA staff was also represented.

Throughout 2017, these experts, from a range of disciplines, are exploring how more food and biomass be obtained from the ocean. Sustainability is an important part of the project – both in terms of species or groups of species that could potentially provide more food and biomass, and technological constraints to realising an increased sustainable harvest.