News Digest n.3 / 2022
An international consortium of companies coordinated by Hungarian company “Kseris Tudástranszfer Nonprofit” is winding up a European Union-funded project with the aim to develop a sustainable, more efficient method of local fish farming. According to Kseris, the project, supported by €2.5 million in EU funding, has produced an aquaculture method dubbed as “Silgen” that can double the output of fish farms. Catfish fillets produced with this method will be available for consumers by the end of 2022. Companies involved in this project are: Hungary’s Aranyponty Halászati, Austria’s Garant Tiernahrung, Germany’s Ahrenhorster Edelfisch and G20 Storitve of Slovenia.
On 15 April, the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean of the Food and Agriculture Organization has launched two new tenders: a survey on scientific demersal trawl and another survey on intercalibration in Albanian and Montenegrin waters. The overall purpose of the activities is to contribute to the execution of scientific demersal trawl at sea in order to contribute to the characterization of demersal fisheries resources in Albanian and Montenegrin waters; to provide data for modelling the population dynamic of the main demersal commercial species; to monitor interactions between fisheries and the marine environment and ecosystems. Registration deadline for both surveys is expected on 12 May at 15:00 (GMT 2.00).
On 13 April, the European Commission proposed a legislative amendment to the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund 2014-20, which would allow for additional crisis measures to support the EU fishery and aquaculture sectors in the context of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. This complements the first package of measures adopted on 25 March. Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius stated that the fishery and aquaculture sectors have been “heavily impacted by the war in Ukraine” and that with this proposal, the Commission is giving “the possibility to Member States to reallocate [financial resources] to specific measures mitigating the socio-economic impact of the crisis”.
At the BlueInvest Day 2022 in Brussels, Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius and European Investment Fund Deputy Chief Executive, Roger Havenith, announced a new dedicated equity initiative for the blue economy under InvestEU. This initiative will mobilise an additional €500 million of EU funds for financial intermediaries investing in this sector. Commissioner Sinkevičius also announced that the European Commission’s successful BlueInvest initiative will continue until 2026. The call for expression of interest for the InvestEU Blue Economy fund will soon be published by the European Investment Fund (EIF).
A new report on how the aquaculture sector can become more circular was published around the end of March. This topic was addressed in November during a collaborative event called “Aquaculture Going Circular” and the conclusions were grouped and published in the report “Policy Recommendations For a More Circular Aquaculture”. The report provides a common definition for the concept, a method for measuring circularity and clear indicators for reporting. The objective is to improve the efficiency, sustainability and resilience of traditional and innovative production systems. Circularity is the principle that used or discarded products (e.g. waste) should become raw materials for new products or other materials. According to the authors of the report, there is a vital need to first agree at production and governance level on circularity indicators, to encourage the aquaculture sector to report using these indicators as evidence of sustainable practices and then to encourage the display of circularity indicators on consumer products in order to increase confidence in the ecological sustainability of farmed seafood.
An investigation brought forward by newspaper “The Guardian” showed that up to 3.000 cases of oil dumped by commercial ships in European waters may be happening every year: however, the scale of illegal “bilge dumping” is likely to be higher than acknowledged. Bilge water is a mix of liquids from the engine room of a ship along with other potentially toxic substances and dealing with this wastewater is quite expensive for the operators: to cut down on operational costs, some ships simply dump it into the ocean, posing a serious threat to marine life. In Europe, marine oil spills are monitored by the European Maritime Safety Agency through its CleanSeaNet initiative, which analyses satellite images to detect potential oil discharges: when the system identifies a potential spill, it sends an alert to the relevant EU country. However, the European Maritime Safety Agency noted that feedbacks from countries are very low: in 2020 it detected 7.672 detections of potential oil spills and it received feedback for only a third of these, with 208 detections confirmed as spills. The executive director of the Agency, Maja Markovčić Kostelac, said that illegal discharges of oil “still regularly occur in European waters”, however “the number of detections, as well as the number of prosecutions, remains low”.