Blue Fish and European fisheries stakeholders call for a greater role for sustainable and responsible fisheries in the European Blue Growth strategy.
In the margins of the 2014 Seafood Expo, Blue Fish, the European association for the promotion of sustainable and responsible fisheries, brought together representatives from the fisheries sector from France, Scotland, Spain and Portugal, European policy-makers, local decision-makers and representatives from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation to call for a greater place for fisheries in the European Blue Growth strategy.
Blue Growth is the long term strategy adopted by the European Commission in 2012 to support sustainable growth in the marine and maritime sectors as a whole. It recognises that seas and oceans are drivers for the European economy with great potential for innovation and growth.
Even though the Commission strategy does not specifically mention fisheries as a component of Blue Growth, all speakers of the roundtable organized by Blue Fish on 7 May, agreed that fisheries are a critical component of Europe’s maritime strategy. They recalled that, in addition to its major contribution to food security in the EU, the fishing sector is also incredibly important for the social and economic fabric of Europe’s coastal communities.
"Blue Growth must rely equally on the three pillars of sustainable development: environmental, social and economic" said Olivier Le Nézet, President of Blue Fish, who highlighted that the European fishing sector has been working hand in hand with the scientific community over the past 10 years and has implemented a number of best practices which are making a true difference in environmental terms. Now that the fish stocks are recovering, Olivier le Nézet stressed the need not to sacrifice any further the social and economic pillars of the sector.
"The number of people employed on boats to catch fish will not increase in the coming years, because of the technological progress we have achieved. But there is nonetheless a huge potential for innovation in the fisheries sector, and thus for growth", the representatives from the European Commission and from the UN FAO agreed, adding that the Blue Growth strategy should not be seen as a reconversion initiative towards the fisheries sector.
"Fisheries have a true contribution to make to food security worldwide, through sustainable and responsible practices. European fishermen are committed to continue working on innovative practices which respect marine ecosystems while also allowing the European coastal communities to thrive and develop", Olivier Le Nézet concluded.