29 April, 2008
THE EUROPEAN fish farming industry is in danger of being strangled by red tape,
according to Euro MP Struan Stevenson.
Speaking yesterday (Monday) at a conference on European aquaculture in Billund,
Denmark, the Tory MEP called for the 400 separate pieces of regulation governing
fish farming in Europe to be simplified.
The alternative was for jobs to be put at risk as the industry became dominated
by countries in South America and Asia, he warned.
“We have allowed our non-EU competitors to assume dominance in the sector and we
have seen our indigenous industry haemorrhage jobs to countries outside the EU,”
Mr Stevenson said.
“We import almost 50 per cent of our seafood needs when we are perfectly capable
of producing this food ourselves.
“This red tape and bureaucracy and the endless production of legislative
directives in Europe are a gift to our competitors in China, Japan, Chile,
Vietnam and elsewhere.
“At a time when demand for healthy fish products is rising internationally,
while marine fish stocks continue to decline, the opportunities for EU
aquaculture to lead the world in fish farming innovation and technological
development are being hampered by red tape.”
Mr Stevenson agreed that sound European regulation ensured consumer confidence,
but said it was a question of balance.
“The industry favours regulation, not strangulation. It is ridiculous that we
apply tougher conditions to our home-grown producers than we apply to producers
from outside the EU who flood our markets with products.
“We need to improve the image of fish farming, which is still regarded as
polluting, wasteful in terms of the use of fish meal, disease ridden, dangerous
to consumers due to marine and microbiological toxins, dangerous to wild stocks,
poor for animal welfare and producing an inferior product. All of these notions
are wrong, misguided and out of date.
“Our farmed fish are produced to the highest standards of any fish farms in the
world and we will not do anything to undermine that.
“However, we must simplify the regulatory regime and free-up Europe’s fish
farmers to reclaim their rightful place as world leaders in this exciting
industry. So the targets are clear, the prospects are bright and the barriers to
progress have been clearly identified. The Commission, the Parliament, the
Member States and the sector need to forge a new partnership so that we can once
again lead the world in fish farming.”