European aquaculture (including the European Union and the European Economic Area) encompasses the cultivation of a wide range of fish and mollusc species and is a true pan-European production activity, which has grown rapidly from a cottage industry in the 1960s into an industrial sector that is composed of multi-national companies, SMEs and family firms.
In 2009, European aquaculture produced more than 1,800,000 MT of fish and 665,000 MT of shellfish, worth some 6.2 billion Euros (1,2). The production sector supports some 100,000 jobs and increasingly supplies the European processing sector, which employs some 130,000 people in the EU alone. The Multiple Retail Stores (MRS) now account for the major share of fish sales to the European consumer and this situation has been accompanied by a parallel rise in consumer preference for processed products and prepared convenience foods.
The growth seen in production levels would not have occurred without the development of specialised hatcheries/nurseries, feed manufacturers and service sectors (e.g. equipment suppliers, veterinarians...).
A common thread to each of aquaculture’s components is the knowledge base that has been developed through innovative research and development activities, led by Universities and Institutes throughout Europe, which have contributed to globally-recognised levels of excellence.
Aquaculture in Europe has thus created a dynamic and effective knowledge-based sector. While most of the products of European aquaculture are destined for the European consumer, the service and knowledge activities have established international activities that have accompanied global aquaculture development.
As a result of this, European aquaculture represents an extraordinarily diverse sector that links to an important and diversified range of upstream and downstream activities. Together, the different players concerned cover the entire supply and management systems that provide the European consumer with nutritious high quality fish and shellfish products - a genuine value-chain.
In the 21st century, the European aquaculture value-chain is committed to assuring its sustainability and recognises that achieving this requires:
- Attaining economic profitability through competitiveness
- Providing the highest levels of product quality and new products that the consumer appreciates
- Offering the best nutrition and health for the livestock
- Ensuring the response to and control required on environmental issues
- Improving approaches to engineering and equipment needs
- Guaranteeing effective technology transfer and lifelong learning for those working in the sector
These goals cannot be achieved alone and it was recognised that each of the different components of European aquaculture, producers and suppliers alike, needed to join forces with the research and development sector so as to achieve the objectives outlined.
In order to reinforce the research and innovation processes that are required within a modern and developing Europe, the European aquaculture sector has established the European Aquaculture Technology and Innovation Platform.
- Source: Facts & Figures on the CFP: Edition 2010
- Federation of European Aquaculture Producers, European Mollusc Producers Association and FHL Havbruk (2011)
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