THE European Union’s fisheries commissioner, Karmenu Vella, said he is fully committed to a large scale expansion of aquaculture by member states.
Speaking at the 50th anniversary of the European Fisheries Partnership in Brussels, he said he was proud that the EU, through the European and Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF), had provided fishing grants amounting to almost two billion euros (£1,800 million).
Much of this money had been distributed throughout Europe to assist every type of fish farming.
And he revealed that an additional 250 million euros had been spent on the development of aquaculture in the EU by the European Union research programme, known as Horizon 2020. This has a total budget of 80 billion euros spread over seven years.
The commissioner said he was convinced that fish farming in all its forms was helping to play a key role in creating jobs and contributing to a strong economy in Europe.
‘We want sustainable farming to flourish,’ Vella said. ‘It is an industry that creates economic growth, employment and economic stability, especially in rural area and along coastal areas.’
He also said that aquaculture was contributing to food safety and providing the public with a source of healthy and protein rich food.
‘This is why the European Union supports sustainable aquaculture and the future is bright,’ he told his Brussels audience.
He said he had asked the EU experts about the best way of obtaining more foods from beneath the seas. ‘The answer was – more aquaculture, they said.’
Picture: Karmenu Vella