Sustainability: a major goal in the new European aquaculture strategy – and how it can be achieved

Reducing bycatch through fishing nets equipped with LEDs is just one initiative towards increased sustainability in the fisheries and aquaculture industry. See how the EIT-funded AGAPE project can contribute.
Aquaculture fish
10 August, 2022
By Bert Popping

We reported in June about the new strategic guidelines that are aimed at making European aquaculture more competitive, sustainable and resilient. Here are the developments from this week that are bound to significantly contribute to this goal.

ASC, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) has completed a comprehensive consumer survey, interviewing more than 12,000 consumers in 12 different countries about their perception and consumption of seafood. While health was their primary reason for consuming seafood, it showed that consumers are not satisfied with the current level of sustainability of the seafood industry and largely agree that consumers have to play a role in that. This is the more important since according to the National Institute of Food and Agriculture of USDA, the global demand for seafood is projected to increase by 70 percent in the next 30 years.

A Scottish initiative of Seafood tourism was hailed a success. 20 businesses in Scotland signed up for this pilot project, jointly with VisitScotland. The goal of this project is to give national and international tourists an authentic seafood experience. The businesses see this initiative as another way for generating sales and creating brand awareness.  A series of engaging webinars were held as part of this initiative and they can be viewed online.

Another exciting project is funded by the UK Government that seeks to reduce bycatch. According to the Fisheries Minister, the first results are already tangible: from LED lights that attract the target species but deters other species to novel whelk pot designs. In total, 17 projects awarded funds from major 120M € investments to research sustainable fisheries practices.

And while the UK is no longer part of the European Union, the seas around the UK are shared and sustainability approaches are essential on the UK and European sides.

Many of these new approaches like fishing net LEDs require different types of manufacturing processes and skills from the traditional catching methods. This is where the EIT Food funded AGAPE project aims to make its contribution to sustainability by enabling a tailored workforce with the needed skills through the development of an AI-based reskilling and upskilling platform.

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