Brussels is proposing to lift European aquaculture out of stagnation, through more investment and research. The fisheries authorities say fish farming is a way to take the pressure off overexploited wild stocks. Though ecologists disagree, the European Commission says that reinvigorating aquaculture will help develop rural and coastal areas.
Environmentalists and some professionals say fish farms do not make sense. They point to fish waste in enclosures harming surrounding habitats, and to parasites and disease. It also takes up to six kilos of wild fish to raise one kilo of cultured produce. WWF says fish farming will surpass cattle ranching by the end of this decade; It already accounts for one-third of the fish people consume. Less is being caught at sea. Most of what Europe eats is imported — Asian and Latin American competitors face fewer rules than EU growers. France, Spain, Italy, the UK and Greece are the EU’s leading producers of shellfish, trout, salmon and carp.