In cooperation with various industry players, the Spanish Aquaculture Observatory implemented this initiative in 2012, and the seventh edition was held on November 30th, 2018. Through "Aquaculture Day," the goal is to convey the importance of aquaculture in Spain to society and its commitment to sustainable development, R&D and innovation, and the creation of wealth and wellbeing in rural and coastal areas. To that end, Wiki Spanish Food invited the head of Crianza de Nuestros Mares, Javier Ojeda.
Question- Aquaculture Day was held on November 30th. How is this activity important from the perspective of food and sustainability?
Answer- Aquaculture allows us to respond effectively to the challenge of feeding a population that is constantly growing and which needs healthy food, obtained sustainably, all year round. Aquaculture far outstrips the parameters of efficiency and optimization in the use of natural resources when compared with any kind of animal on land, with the result that the commitment to consuming foods produced through aquaculture is a commitment to the future of humanity. As a result, all international organizations, such as the United Nations, the FAO and the European Union is encouraging governments to promote this activity.
Q.- Is aquaculture the solution to the food problem and the limits on fish products?
A.- Unfortunately, the global food problem has more than one cause, which is why it's so difficult to address. Not only production but also the distribution and storage of food is not balanced. One part of the planet wastes the food it doesn't eat, and the other is dying of hunger and has nutritional deficiencies. The same occurs with water and medicine. Aquaculture allows for food to be grown all year round, offering consumers a tasty and healthy alternative to meet their needs for protein and essential oils which are unaffected by rising prices and product availability.
Q.- What is Spain's status in Europe with respect to aquaculture?
A.- Spain has always been a leader in fishing, and its position in terms of aquaculture is no different. We have a centuries-old tradition of obtaining our food from the sea and rivers, and doing it efficiently. Our aquaculture has followed the same path. Spain's aquaculture sector has been in the process of modernizing to become a leader in the European Union. We are leaders, thanks to research carried out in the handling of species, in preparing the food that our fish eat, in optimizing the entire process and in reducing the environmental impact.
Q.- Aquaculture has a Spanish representative: "Crianza de Nuestros Mares." What is this initiative about and how does it work?
A.- The main producers of gilt-head bream and sea bass in Spain have made an important commitment to implementing the highest standards of quality in all of a fish's phases, from birth until the consumer has it on his or her plate. Crianza de Nuestros Mares is a seal confirming the quality and origin, enabling consumers to see fish that were made in this way. A quality seal that's visible on fish at the fishmongers. It's the best tool for consumers to identify a fish made in our waters, and which has been out of those water for barely 24 hours, as opposed to another fish imported from somewhere far away like Turkey or Greece and which has been in transit for a week when we go to buy it.
Q.- Innovation, quality and animal welfare is what consumers are most concerned about and interested in. What role do they plan in this initiative?
A.- Studies conducted by Crianza de Nuestros Mares have allowed us to realize that the proximity of production is an essential driver of consumption, for seven out of ten consumers. In view of this, the conditions are ripe for initiatives like our seal. It allows us to give consumers a tool to be able to commit to fish raised not only in a closer environment, but in a more advanced one, perfected thanks to the ongoing studies we're doing to improve the production process. Taking care of the farms, choosing feed, searching for the best locations for the hatcheries, getting veterinary advice, ensuring sanitary monitoring... those are some of the steps we take to meet the needs of demanding consumers of the 21st century.
Q.- What are the future challenges facing aquaculture? What still needs to be done?
A.- Despite being a centuries-old discipline, aquaculture as we know it is currently an innovative and relatively recent activity. Nevertheless, it's experiencing a revolution and becoming an alternative way to produce quality, sustainable and healthy foods. Nevertheless, there are still many people who don't view aquaculture products as having the value that they do. There's still a long road ahead of raising awareness so than mankind understands that, just as it gets its meat, poultry, grains and fruit, now aquatic foods can be harvested, like fish, crustaceans, mollusks and seaweed.