The EU’s dependence on seafood imports continue to grow, a new report shows.
Imports are not disturbing the European market – they keep the market running. That is the message of this year’s edition of the annual Fin Fish Study, released this week by the EU Fish Processors and Traders Association, AIPCE-CEP.
Compiling data from Eurostat and other sources, the report author Matthias Keller found that the imported share of fish in the EU has grown to 9.394 million tonnes in 2010. This equals 62 percent of all the fish consumed by humans, after non-food uses are removed from the calculation.
For major species of whitefish, the reliance on imports is even higher. For instance, 86 percent of the cod is imported.
The import dependence has grown over the last decade. In 1999, the EU imported 51 percent of the fish consumed, and the projection for 2011 is 63 percent.
The argument from AIPCE-CEP is that imports are the backbone of the EU fish market and should not be regarded as a threat to the EU fishing fleet.
Another angle on the issue is that the EU exports its overfishing and needs to restore the health of Europe’s fish stocks. This argument was presented earlier this year by a group of environmental NGOs highlighting the dependence on imports through the so-called ‘fish dependence day‘. A report revealed that if the EU were to consume only fish from its waters, it would run out July 2.