Spain, the World Leader in Sustainable Aquaculture
The Spanish agri-food sector is firmly entrenched on the road to sustainability. One of the areas where this commitment can be seen is in regard to aquaculture, an industry where Spanish companies are leaders, not only in production and sale, but also in the development of practices that work to ensure a more sustainable present and future.
Text: Rodrigo García Fernández / ©ICEX
International institutions like the FAO consider aquaculture to be an activity that contributes to the efficient use of natural resources, food safety and economic development, with a limited and controllable impact on the environment. Aquaculture is the controlled production of aquatic organisms. This control implies the application of technology, research, and dynamic development. At this time, more than half the total food of aquatic origin consumed by the world population comes from fish farms, which raise crustaceans, seaweed, mollusks and other invertebrates.
One very important and interesting aspect with regard to production and resource management is that 70% of the planet's surface area is water, and marine aquaculture does not require fresh water, an increasingly scarce resource that is necessary for survival.
In terms of sustainability, the big advantage of aquatic animals is that they can be turned into food more efficiently than land-dwelling vertebrates, which require more food and energy to produce a kilogram of protein. Furthermore, the reproduction rates of aquatic animals are various orders of magnitude greater than that of land animals.
Demands of quality and sustainability
The differences between some producers and others can be measured by their commitment or lack thereof to employing sustainable practices. In this sense, Spanish producers are at the forefront internationally, thanks to their demanding standards in terms of traceability, feed, animal well-being, water quality and waste management. “Spain is the main producer of aquaculture in the European Union, as well as one of the most innovative and advanced in the development of technology and sustainable production, which positions us in a situation of privilege and leadership that we must not lose sight of," affirms Javier Ojeda, director of the Asociación Empresarial de Acuicultura de España (APROMAR) – a association for Spanish aquaculture companies.
Few people are aware of the fact, for example, that the parents of the fish raised in Spanish waters are from the wild, with no genetic modifications. Also, their descendents grow for two to three years, until reaching the appropriate size, and the feed they receive is made from the highest-quality nutrients.
With 47,319 tons of production in 2016, and more than 35 species of commercial interest – the principal of which are dorada (sea bream), lubina (sea bass), rodaballo (turbot), lenguado (sole), corvina and a range of mollusks – Spain is the leader in aquacultural production in the European Union and a reference for the rest of the world.
This country's leadership is not only with regard to volumes produced and production systems, but also innovation, quality, safety and hygiene, animal welfare, sustainability, respect for ocean floors... etc.
A Spanish quality seal
One of the easiest ways to distinguish products that come from sustainable Spanish aquaculture is to look in stores and fish markets for products with the Crianza de Nuestros Mares guarantee, a seal that includes the colors yellow and red that are present on the Spanish flag.
The sea bream, sea bass and corvina that have this seal offer consumers the guarantee of having been raised in Spanish coastal waters in accordance with the best quality standards. This seal also serves to identify a fish that has been produced with an absolute respect for the environment, the ocean floor and, above all, animal wellbeing.
“One of our main concerns is the conservation of our oceans and ocean floors, our main resource. Another is how to produce with the utmost respect for the welfare of the animals, something that we are a reference for on a worldwide level!", states Tomás Hernández, the president of the Crianza de Nuestros Mares seal, which is promoted by members of APROMAR.
Translation by Adrienne Smith /@ICEX.