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Developing responsible aquaculture in the Baltic Sea Region (CODE OF CONDUCT)


Sustainable and balanced development of the Baltic Sea region is important not only to the region itself, but to the entire European Union. In order to ensure posi­tive development in the region, the EU prepared and in 2009 launched its first macro-regional strategy, the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region.

Aquaculture is an important source of livelihood throughout the Baltic Sea region. On a global scale, aquaculture production is growing rapidly, since dimin­ishing fish catches will not suffice to meet increasing demand for seafood. Although demand for fish is also growing in the Baltic Sea region, growth of aquaculture in the region has halted and even turned to a decline.

The opportunities and development needs of aquacul­ture in the Baltic Sea region were identified in the EU’s strategy for the Baltic Sea region, which included the flagship project BESTAQ, aimed at promoting methods of sustainable aquaculture. Finland was appointed as the lead country for the project. Start-up funding for the work was obtained from various countries’ national EFF funds and from the Nordic Council of Ministers. With the help of a multinational project team, Finland’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry was responsible for the coordination of the BESTAQ project, and the Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute for the project’s implementation. BALTFISH, a regional forum for fisheries authorities in the Baltic Sea region, acted as the project’s steering group.

A key task for the BESTAQ project was to identify bottlenecks in the development of aquaculture, and to define political-strategic development outlines in order to help the sector resume growth. BALTFISH decided that the definition work’s outcome would be a Code of Conduct document.

By conducting an extensive survey, BESTAQ charted attitudes to aquaculture, alongside bottlenecks and development opportunities in the industry. The results showed that various countries were experiencing very similar problems. In all countries, most respondents viewed a common code of conduct as necessary.

The survey results were in favour of preparing a code of conduct and provided a firm foundation for defining its content. The results of the survey will be published later, as part of this report series.

The BESTAQ project prepared proposals for the codes, which were discussed at a seminar with interest groups in late 2011. On the basis of the feedback received, the proposals were finalised and submitted for considera­tion by the BALTFISH forum in the beginning of 2012. After this work was completed, the BESTAQ project was concluded at the end of 2011. On 26 January 2012, the BALTFISH forum discussed the proposal for the code of conduct, approving it with minor changes.

Based on its light resources and short duration, the intention was that the BESTAQ project would serve as a catalyst, defining the sector’s development outlines and proposing measures for implementing the asso­ciated changes. For the purpose of this follow-up work, the BESTAQ team prepared the AQUABEST project, which was granted funding by the Baltic Sea Programme 2007–2013.

AQUABEST is an extensive joint project involving eight countries and 14 partners. Its four work packages analyse and aim to find solutions to problems asso­ciated with legal, ecological and production technical issues, as well as those related to the use of water areas and hindering the sustainable growth of aquaculture in the Baltic Sea region. AQUABEST will continue the development of aquaculture, under a flagship project of the Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. In accord­ance with the project plan, AQUABEST undertakes to publish the prepared code of conduct.

The aim of the publication is to promote use of the code of conduct, for instance in the preparation and implementation of national aquaculture development strategies. The undersigned hope to see the code of conduct’s widespread adoption in the Baltic Sea region, alongside the further distribution of informa­tion on the code.