News Digest n.7 / 2022
New research led by the University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture shows how sea cucumbers can flourish by feeding and growing on organic waste released from commercial fish farms in the Mediterranean. The discovery means adding sea cucumbers can reduce the environmental impacts of marine fish farming whilst providing a high value extra product. Mediterranean Sea cucumbers can fetch between €30/kg dried and €120/kg as processed product, whereas farmed sea bream is currently worth just €6 per kilo. This research, part of the European Union’s Horizon 2020-funded project Tools for Assessment and Planning of Aquaculture Sustainability (TAPAS), carried out with AquaBiotech Group and the University of Palermo, combined two analytical techniques to prove the cucumbers were successfully processing the fish waste.
The EU welcomed the successful results in key areas of the A new Aquaculture Assistance Mechanism became operational in July 2022 to support the European Commission in the implementation of the "Strategic guidelines for a more sustainable and competitive EU aquaculture for the period 2021- 2030”. The Aquaculture Assistance Mechanism will provide the European Commission and the EU Member States with logistical, technical and administrative support to implement the new strategic guidelines. The Assistance Mechanism will also have a website to disseminate information and share good practices on sustainable aquaculture in the EU. The Consortium that was awarded the contract will develop a strategy to share knowledge within the Aquaculture community and raise awareness of the Aquaculture Assistance Mechanism. They will also organise technical seminars, training and conferences to engage stakeholders.
Aquaculture and fisheries concerns in the European Union are receiving additional funding as the European Commission finalizes Partnership Agreements with its 27 Member States. Partnership Agreements are strategic documents that program investments from the cohesion policy - the E.U.'s main investment policy – and the European Maritime, Fisheries, and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) for 2021 to 2027. Denmark is to receive EUR 808 million (USD 864 million) for its cohesion policy investment strategy targeting competitive, innovative, and sustainable growth. Of that EUR 200 million (USD 214 million) of its EMFAF allocation will be used to improve resource efficiency and the competitiveness of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the aquaculture sector. Also included in the funding is the protection and restoration of marine and freshwater biodiversity, through innovation and development of selective fishing gear and river restoration.
A survey conducted as part of the EU-funded EcoScope project sought to discover what EU fishery stakeholders thought were the main difficulties in sustainably managing European fisheries in the years to come. The comprehensive survey aimed to form a clear picture of the main needs of fishery stakeholders and the challenges and potential obstacles they face. According to 72.2% of the survey respondents, the effects of climate change are a key difficulty in the future sustainable management of EU fisheries. The project is developing a series of user-friendly e-tools that can function as a decision support system for stakeholders aiming to implement an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management. As described on the project website, the toolbox will use an interdisciplinary scoring system that combines oceanographic, climatic, environmental, habitat, biological, community, fisheries and economic indicators.
The EU and Norway have concluded consultations that will lead to the modernisation the exchange of fisheries data for control purposes. The delegations agreed to use a common software platform for data exchanges, the FLUX Transportation Layer, developed by the European Commission. They agreed to start using the software to exchange vessel position data as of 1st January 2023, with other types of data to follow. In addition, the EU and Norway agreed to use a new format, called UN/FLUX Standard, for exchanging vessel positions. The UN/FLUX Standard, developed by the EU and officially recognised by the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT), harmonises the exchanges of fisheries control data internationally and is already used in the EU.
The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a €1 million Irish scheme to support fisheries cooperatives affected by the effects of the withdrawal of the UK from the EU. The aim of the scheme is to mitigate the impact of the reduced quotas for landed fish on fisheries cooperatives. The support will be available to fisheries cooperatives that are primarily focused on fish species whose quota has been reduced and are reliant on the commission earned from landings of fish species caught by their members’ vessels for revenue. Under the scheme, compensation will be granted in the form of a direct grant to cover for the losses in revenue resulting from the shortage of landed fish. Eligible fisheries cooperatives will be able to receive up to €250,000. The scheme will run until 31 December 2022.