The Eurobarometer, a survey since 1973 of economic and social indicators, operated by the European Commission, has found, once again, that Europeans love fish. European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella reacted to the most recent report by highlighting the importance of ensuring the sustainability of European fisheries so that “…our citizens can enjoy these tasty products in the long term.” Considerable progress has been made in this regard over the last years, he said, adding that aquaculture too played an important role, “farmed fish from the EU is a sustainable source of protein and other nutrients. In a low-carbon society, its role will only increase.” Europeans spend twice as much, per person, on fish than do Americans because, according to the survey of people’s opinion, most (74% of survey respondents) find it healthy, and tasty. Europeans also prefer the local fishmonger, who sells local fish, rather than other retail channels, where the fish may be imported, and where the seller may not be as acquainted with seafood, how to treat it, recipes, and so on. Fishmongers also often offer a more varied assortment of seafood, which the survey respondents also valued. Trust was another issue, the respondents also indicated they felt greater confidence in their seafood purchases because of the strict EU rules on product quality, labelling, and other benefits.
Increasing sustainable production will call for concerted efforts
The case study “Mussel Farming” has been investigated in the framework of the European project SUCCESS (Horizon 2020) along with other aquaculture case studies. This overview of the European mussel farming sector is based on a presentation given during the workshop at Cattolica (Italy) in May 2017 and relies on preliminary outputs of the project regarding this aquaculture sector.
Globally, the production of farmed mussels has exceeded that from the wild since the end of the 1950s, and the volume share of capture fisheries fell below 10% in 2005. In the EU, mussel farming and fisheries are well-established sectors in some countries, but have exhibited a downward production trend since the beginning of the century, whereas they are still expanding in other parts of the world. The volume share of production in the EU progressively decreased from 47% to 27% over the period 2000-2015; in the meantime, China’s share rose substantially from 30% to 42% and the contribution of Chile grew from 2% to 12% thanks to the development of aquaculture (FAO Fishstat).