News Digest n.11 / 2021
In 2017, the 72nd Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed 2022 as the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture, with the Food and Agriculture Organization serving as the lead agency. This will be an opportunity to celebrate the diversity of small-scale artisanal fisheries and aquaculture, but also to share current and potential contributions for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and highlight related innovations. The objectives of the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture, presented during its launch on November 19, are: enhance global awareness, understanding of and action to support the contribution of small-scale artisanal fisheries and aquaculture to sustainable development; promote dialogue and collaboration between and among small-scale artisanal fishers and further strengthen their capacity to enhance sustainability.
Following the COVID-19 crisis, the EU intends to step up coordination at European level to ensure citizens do not face food shortages during crises. The contingency plan adopted on 12 November acknowledges the overall resilience of the EU food supply chain. The European Commission will establish a European Food Security Crisis preparedness and response mechanism, a group of food supply chain experts coordinated by the Commission to exchange data and strengthen cooperation. The European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, stated that “the pandemic tested the resilience of our food supply chain and we saw that our policies and legislative framework are solid”, underlining that “our fishing and aquaculture sector has to cope with a certain level of dependencies” and that the “contingency plan adopted today ensures that we are ready to address potential shocks while continuing the supply of sustainable seafood to consumers”.
The European Investment Fund has approved commitments to become cornerstone investors in Ocean 14 Capital’s inaugural fund. The European Investment Fund has approved a commitment of €35 million to the fund, which is a unique combination of marine industry and nature conservation knowledge that comes from Ocean 14 Capital, a private equity firm focused on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 14. This fund will target investments in growth-stage technologies and companies promoting sustainable fishing, aquaculture and alternative proteins, as well as ocean conservation and health. The European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, added that “with BlueInvest, the Commission and the European Investment Fund have a powerful instrument in place to promote the sustainable blue economy as a cornerstone of the European Green Deal”.
Helena Álvarez, marine scientist at Oceana in Europe, has applauded the decision of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean “to prioritise transparency and accountability in the fisheries sector by approving the modification of its Authorised Vessel List”. She added that this outcome “will allow authorities, researchers and NGOs to cross-check information and have more clarity on which vessels can fish where, to prevent illegal activities at sea”.
Representatives of Mediterranean and Black Sea countries have met during the annual session of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean. On this occasion, 21 binding recommendations and 14 resolutions were adopted with the aim of enhancing efforts in support of the conservation, sustainable use and management of fisheries resources across these areas. Among these measures, the resolution addressing abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear is the first of its kind in the Mediterranean and Black Sea. “Ghost nets” constitute a significant part of marine pollution, threatening sensible habitats and pose a risk of entanglement and ingestion to marine wildlife.
The European Union has a strategy for a sustainable food system, known as “Farm2Fork”: its central objective is to increase European aquaculture production in a way that is respectful of the environment by dealing with its own built-in challenges. A European Union-funded aquaponics project aims to address them, thanks through an ongoing research project at the Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences, which is looking for answers to eutrophication based on indoor aquaponics farming. The Central Finland FLAG funded a feasibility study, small-scale laboratory testing and the construction of a pilot plant to develop and monitor the performance of the system. So far, the project has tested this method with rainbow trout; the third phase of the project from 2022 will aim at scaling up the aquaponics system to create a profitable, environmentally friendly and innovative business model for rural areas.