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Spain Wants Sustainability Monitored In Real-Time

Elena Espinosa, Spain’s minister of environment and rural and marine affairs, gave a keynote speech this week highlighting the need for unity in tackling the challenges facing Europe’s fishing and seafood industries. Espinosa is participating this week’s European Union Council of Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers meeting in Brussels.

Spain’s fishing industry is Europe’s largest in terms of volume, at around 480,000 metric tons annually. As such, revisions to the EU’s 
Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) are high on the nation’s agenda given its potential impact on both the economy and environment.

Espinosa said the EU’s objective is to pursue sustainability of resources in the economic, environmental and social spheres, and that each element should not be disassociated from the other.

Another key theme in Espinosa’s address was the importance of Europe’s fishing industry to foreign markets. Referring to the agreements the EU has established with other countries, she spoke of the need that the agreements be reinforced and integrated within the same sustainability objective.

Espinosa proposed a mechanism that would differ from the existing TAC (total allowable catch) and quota scheme given that most EU fishing vessels now carry satellite positioning systems that allow authorities to track the type and quantity of fish catches at any given moment. She explained that this permits authorities to access real-time information that is more reliable than TACs and quotas in the effort to prevent overfishing.

Espinosa added that aquaculture must be better integrated in the new CFP than it is now.

“Aquaculture must become a viable alternative to the fish and seafood products already suffering from seriously limited stock numbers,” said Espinosa, emphasizing the need for the EU to ramp up research and development and innovation in fish farming.