Spanish Government’s draft act on combatting climate change creating legal uncertainty for the aquaculture sector

Spanish Government’s draft act on combatting climate change creating legal uncertainty for the aquaculture sector

On 13 November 2020, Spanish member of the European Parliament (MEP) Francisco José Millán Mon of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:          

“EU aquaculture production currently covers just 10% of domestic demand, with the rest covered by third country imports, mainly from Asia. Despite its potential, EU aquaculture production has shrunk by 2% since 2007.

According to the Commission’s strategic guidelines and a Parliament study, two of the obstacles to the growth of the aquaculture sector are the complex authorisation procedures and the short administrative concessions. An example of this legal uncertainty facing the aquaculture sector is demonstrated by the current situation in Spain.

Article 18.4 of the Spanish Government’s climate change draft act on combatting climate change threatens the viability of many companies located on the coast. In Galicia alone this reform would force some 100 companies engaged in aquaculture and other sea-to-industry chain operations to move far away from the coast or renew their concessions for under a year.

1. Does the Commission consider Article 18.4 of the draft act on combatting climate change to be compatible with its strategic guidelines for the sustainable development of EU aquaculture?

2. Will the Commission address this matter with the Spanish Government within the framework of the open method of coordination for the sustainable development of EU aquaculture?”

On 29 January 2021, Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “The Commission is aware that the EU aquaculture sector has not reached its potential in terms of meeting the increasing demand for healthy and nutritious food produced in a way that respects the environment.

This is why the Commission has been working on the review of the Strategic Guidelines for the sustainable development of EU aquaculture and has invited EU Member States to review their Multi-annual National Strategic Plans for the sector. The Commission expects to adopt the new Strategic Guidelines during the first quarter of 2021.

The work on the new guidelines has revealed that there is still room to improve the regulatory framework and administrative procedures related to aquaculture in order to bring more certainty for the sector.

This work has also confirmed that climate change impact is an important challenge for the sector in the years to come, which also needs to be addressed. Therefore, the integration by EU Member States of climate change in their national policies and strategies is of essence to ensure efficient adaptation to climate change and the mitigation of its effects.

Due to the importance to the sector, measures to adapt to climate change will be part of the topics that the Commission and EU Member States’ experts will discuss in the future in the context of the open method of coordination.”


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