In September 2002, the European Commission presented its ‘strategy for the sustainable development of European Aquaculture’. The Strategy is the first Commission (indeed, EU) policy directed exclusively at the growing EU aquaculture sector which is now valued at €2.5 billion per year.
The strategy responds to criticism of the lack of a coherent EU policy for this sector, particularly one addressing environmental and sustainability issues. Despite references to the EU Sustainable Development Strategy, however, the aquaculture strategy is clearly aimed at sustained growth rather than sustainable development, as underlined by the twin aims of increasing employment by 8,000 to 10,000 jobs by 2003; and increasing growth to 4 per cent year on year.
In many ways the document provides a sweetener for an industry braced for job losses following the main Common Fisheries Policy reform proposals. At the same time, there is acknowledgment on paper at least that increased employment can only be secured over the long term if other issues, including land-use conflicts, marketing and product promotion, and governance are addressed.