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Increasing aquaculture in the Baltic Sea meets with positive response

The entire Baltic Sea region feels positive about increasing aquaculture production. This is revealed by an expert survey conducted by the Aquabest project, as part of the European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region.

Most respondents were of the opinion that increasing cultured production of sea-food on a global level would be necessary to feeding the world's expanding population, and ecologically justifiable. According to 85 to 95 per cent of the respondents, aquaculture preserves endangered fish stocks and fundamentally broadens the availability of fresh fish, while creating employment and livelihoods in remote areas.  The respondents also widely agreed that fish production is ecologically more effective than livestock farming, because the energy from the fodder is not used for body heat.  The majority of respondents from environmental interest groups (60-75%) emphasised the environmental risks of the growing aquaculture industry, overuse of water resources and industrial fish, and the effects of aquaculture on natural fish stocks.

Nine out of ten respondents believed in the growth potential of aquaculture in the Baltic Sea region. Although there were some differences between respondent groups, all interest groups thought that political and administrative issues posed slightly greater obstacles to development than financial or environmental matters. Lack of planning tools for the site selection and unequal subsidy policy in comparison to agriculture were considered the key problems. One half of environmental groups and three quarters of other interest groups thought that larger production units would be needed in order to ensure the competitiveness of companies.

Funded by the Baltic Sea Programme of the European Union Strategy, the Aquabest project conducted the survey in order to explore the attitudes towards aquaculture of companies, administration, research and education, environmental organisations and environmental authorities in the sector. The survey was taken by a total of 158 experts from all EU Member States in the Baltic Sea region.

Attitudes towards the experienced problems and to solutions for such problems were similar throughout the Baltic Sea region.  This suggests that the problems themselves are also similar. Such information provides solid grounds for region-wide cooperation in developing conditions which will permit the growth of environmentally sustainable aquaculture.

While the growth of aquaculture has been rapid elsewhere in the world, it has seen a slight decline in the Baltic Sea region. The objective of the Aquabest project is to identify tools for the sustainable resumption of growth in aquaculture.
http://www.aquabestproject.eu/

Further information about the survey is available in the following publication: Stakeholder's Attitudes to the Development of Aquaculture in the Baltic Sea Region
http://www.aquabestproject.eu/reports.aspx

Further information:
Senior aquaculture expert Unto Eskelinen, Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute, Finland, tel. +358 20 5751 513, firstname.lastname@rktl.fi (interviews in English)


published 16.11.2012