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The new organic aquaculture rules is expected to take the industry to another level. (Photo: Stock File/FIS)

Organic aquaculture laws go into effect

Wednesday, July 07, 2010, 16:20 (GMT + 9)

New rules that went into effect for organic aquaculture production in the European Union (EU) last Wednesday will let the industry flourish like never before.

Hitherto, organic aquaculture had been regulated through a blend of national rules in four Member States and a range of private schemes, only a few of which have run beyond one sole Member State. This arrangement has been unsatisfactory and troublesome in terms of the single market, as free movement has not been ensured throughout all 27 Member States.
This move is a prelude of plans to create a sound and consistent aquaculture policy for the EU in the coming years to allow the sector to thrive. The expansion in organic seafood production using natural substances and processes will broaden consumer choice.

Aquaculture Regulation 710/2009 entered into force on Wednesday and sets conditions for the aquatic production environment and for impacts on other species.

This was a cooperative venture involving technical input from the fisheries side of the Commission and procedural aspects from the agriculture side. It entails the separation of organic and non-organic units and specifies animal welfare standards including maximum stocking densities.

For example, the maximum stocking density for salmon is set at 10 kg per cbm (kg/m3) in net pens in sea water and 20 kg/m3 in freshwater. For sea bass and sea bream the maximum density is 15 kg/m3 in the sea and four kg/m3in earth ponds and lagoons. 

The animal welfare standards specify that biodiversity should be respected and prohibits stimulated spawning via artificial hormones. Organic feeds should be used while supplemented by fish feeds obtained from sustainably managed fisheries, with special provisions made for bivalve mollusc production and seaweed.

Last Wednesday is also the day when the new EU logo for organic food was applied, a logo that is easily recognized and will help the organic sector to burgeon.

In 2008, an estimated 123 certified organic aquaculture operations were running in Europe out of 225 worldwide. Those in the EU made up almost half of the world’s production of 50,000 tonnes that year.
In production terms, the top five Member States were the UK, Ireland, Hungary, Greece and France.

The top species is salmon, with organic salmon fetching at a price premium about 50 per cent higher than conventionally farmed salmon. Its market growth is predominantly strong in France, Germany and the UK. 

Some EUR 17 million worth of seafood is sold under the organic label in France, whose market skyrocketed by 220 per cent between 2007 and 2008. In Germany, in addition to being available at specialised organic supermarket outlets, organic seafood is now sold widely in discount chains operating across the EU.

Related articles:

- New label certifies origin of seafood
New EU organic logo set for Europe's supermarkets

By Natalia Real


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