This impressive paella chart holds 65% of seafood imported from outside the EU.
The EU imports 65% of the seafood it consumes, a dependency that raises EU vulnerability to cost increases such as that caused by the transport disruption during the pandemic, an expert told attendees at a EUMOFA webinar recently. Mark Turenhaut of the Dutch Fish Federation said that the high import share of finished product and raw material exposes EU fish processors, downstream distributors, and consumers to price increases in seafood itself, and in transport such as ocean freight and fuel. These costs may not be caused by the industry but there are solutions within the industry in concert with national and EU governments.
For example, the management of fishing quotas can be improved. Quotas are necessary and are set based on scientific advice, but they are not always efficiently managed. Some quotas are not completely filled, meaning EU-produced fish is less than it could be. Another example is aquaculture, where greater support by government, including investment incentives, would increase EU fish and shellfish production. Mr Turenhaut also recommended the development of alternative products from fishery and aquaculture, not only to grow more revenue per fish but also to spread that revenue across multiple product lines, to reduce total dependency on any one product market. Another action at EU policy level would be to expand trade agreements that provide tariff reductions on imports from developing countries, making imported raw material—and the products EU processors produce from them—cheaper, passing the lower costs on to consumers.
Boosting EU production of fishery and aquaculture products to shrink imports’ share of EU supply would contribute to the seafood sector’s ability to withstand import supply fluctuations and volatile costs of transport logistics and of other inputs that are often global in nature, and not easily addressed by individual companies.