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European Court of Auditors says aquaculture sector has disappointed

EUROPEAN UNION
Friday, December 01, 2023, 07:00 (GMT + 9)

The following is an excerpt from an article published by Responsible Seafood Advocate:

Although the EU framework for promoting the sustainable development of aquaculture in member states has improved, the substantially increased funding has not yielded tangible results, according to a new report published by the European Court of Auditors (ECA). In fact, European aquaculture production actually seems to be at a standstill.

 

Source: European Court of Auditors

With support from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (U.S. $1.3 billion allocated from 2014–2020) and its successor, the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (U.S. $1 billion allocated from 2021–2027), the European Union (EU) aims to secure the long-term environmental sustainability of aquaculture and to achieve economic, social and employment benefits. However, the EU reports that “results are slow to appear and cannot yet be reliably measured.”

“The EU has cast its nets wide for the aquaculture sector in recent years, as it is a major element of its Blue Economy strategy,” said Nikolaos Milionis, the ECA member who led the audit. “But they remain disappointingly empty.”

The amount of funding allocated exclusively to aquaculture for the 2014–2020 period was more than three times the total spent from 2007–2013. However, neither the European Commission nor the member states demonstrated the need for such a large increase, and the auditors have reason to believe that too much EU money was put on the table.

“The fact is that a large part of it has not been used, and member states may not be able to spend all available funding by 2023, which is the deadline for expenditure to be considered eligible,” wrote the ECA in a press release. “A side-effect here is that, in practice, EU countries financed almost all projects, irrespective of their expected contribution to the EU’s objectives for aquaculture, whereas a more targeted hook-and-line approach might have yielded a bigger catch.”

Source: European Court of Auditors

Despite the funding available for 2014–2020, the auditors note that overall EU aquaculture production has flatlined. It has even decreased in two of the largest producers (Italy and France). The socio-economic indicators do not look promising, either. The number of aquaculture businesses is declining, and employment in the sector fell from around 40,000 people to around 35,000 between 2014 and 2020.

The auditors also highlight weaknesses in the monitoring system. They could not find a single set of indicators allowing them to assess the environmental sustainability of the sector, despite this being one of the main objectives of EU policy. Even more concerning are the data currently reported on the achievements of EU funds. [Continues...]

Source: Responsible Seafood Advocate | Read the full article by clicking the link here

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