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Consensus - Sustainable Aquaculture


A unique European meeting for sustainable aquaculture development that confirmed the health benefits of seafood consumption.

More than 100 stakeholders met between 21st and 23rd November 2005 in a special European Workshop dedicated to sustainable aquaculture development, including consumer groups, sectoral representatives of European aquaculture, scientists and institutional interests.

Held in Ostend (Belgium), within the work programme of the “Consensus” project, this landmark event was organised to meet the strategic objective of this European project, which is to provide consumers with, and demonstrate the benefits of high quality, safe and nutritious farmed fish. It allowed stakeholders from 16 countries to present and discuss their views on seafood consumption and sustainable aquaculture development – a first for any European food production sector.

“Consensus” is a European project, funded under the Food Quality and Safety Action of the 6th Framework Programme, which has created a multi-stakeholder platform for sustainable aquaculture development in Europe. This platform involves representatives of the aquaculture production and feed supply sectors, scientific expertise and consumer and environmental interest groups and whose common goal is to promote excellence in aquaculture for the benefit of the European consumer.

Courtney Hough, General Secretary of the Federation of European Aquaculture Producers (FEAP) noted that “The production of EU aquaculture continues to rise steadily, representing more than 1.3 million tons of fish and shellfish, worth more than €3 billion in 2004. When one adds the production of neighbouring European countries, such as Norway and Iceland, the production figure exceeds 2 million tons, where over 1.3 million is food fish. The contribution of aquaculture to the European consumer, in the face of declining fisheries landings, is increasingly important and it also provides a valuable contribution to rural and coastal economies throughout Europe. The European Commission set out a Strategy for the Sustainable Development of European Aquaculture in 2002 and, as a complement to this, the Consensus project has, as one of its key goals, to define clearly the indices for sustainable aquaculture in Europe.”

Additional objectives of “Consensus” are to demonstrate to consumers the health benefits of eating fish and shellfish grown in sustainable conditions. The participants heard from consumer groups and representatives of the “Seafood Plus” Project [see Notes for Editors below] about the nutritional aspects of seafood and the quality of aquaculture products.

“The conclusions of the meeting highlighted the beneficial effects of PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acids), trace elements and vitamins contained in seafood against heart disease and other cardio-vascular complaints, as well as a wide range of other medical conditions. Furthermore, new information from wide-ranging European surveys shows that consumer perception of the safety and quality of farmed fish is now equal to that of fish caught in the wild.” said Alistair Lane, Executive Director of the European Aquaculture Society (EAS), which is co-ordinating “CONSENSUS”.

The next step of “Consensus” is to take the Workshop’s conclusions forward for consultation with the different elements of the aquaculture profession, through the representative professional Federations;

* The Federation of European Aquaculture Producers (FEAP)
* The European Mollusc Producers’ Association (EMPA)
* The Federation of European Feed Manufacturers (FEFAC)

The goal of this part of the project is to define clearly the identifiable and measurable standards of sustainable aquaculture.

“There is a very clear will on the part of the European Aquaculture sector to move towards new standards of excellence that will be of evident benefit to the European consumer” summarised John Godfrey of the European Consumers’ Organisation (BEUC) who chairs the Steering Committee of “Consensus”.

Courtney Hough | alfa
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