Question - What is your overall assessment of APROMAR's performance in 2018?
Answer.- Last year was intense for Spain's aquaculture sector, which continues to look for solutions so as to realize its full potential. APROMAR's efforts have had a direct impact on many issues, including the following:
AQUACULTURE REGULATORY FRAMEWORK. In April, the Congress of Deputies had a final vote on modifying the Natural Patrimony and Biodiversity Act, which returned the status of rainbow trout fish farming in Spain to the situation prior to the unfortunate ruling by the Supreme Court in 2016, which considered it an exotic invader. For two years, farming of this Ibérico species experienced all kinds of setbacks: from difficulties including it in the Combined Public Agricultural Insurance system (ENESA/Agroseguro) to the transportation of its eggs and offspring. Once this issue was resolved, APROMAR was pleased about this step in the right direction to normalize, again, the farming of such an important species in Spain like the rainbow trout.
JACUMAR-JACUCON. The Advisory Board on Marine Aquaculture (JACUMAR-JACUCON), which is part of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, organized a meeting in November where APROMAR expressed its disappointment in the scant use of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and asked for the funds to be mobilized by Spain's regional governments, on the spacial organization of aquaculture and its inclusion in the Marine Strategies, and asked the Ministry for expedited collection of the initial aid from the Fishing Producer Organizations in connection with their Production and Marketing Plans, ENESA/Agroseguro insurance for biomass, its interest in modifying the state law on Marine Aquaculture to restructure JACUMAR/JACUCON, and to eliminate the 50-year limit as the maximum duration of administrative authorizations on marine aquaculture. JACUMAR-JACUCON remains a forum of interest for APROMAR, given the presence of all competent administrations in aquaculture in Spain as well as other relevant institutions.
EUROPEAN MARITIME AND FISHERIES FUND. Application to the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (2014-2020) remains inefficient and around record lows of less than 15%. There are even parts of the EMFF that have not been revealed yet, such as the financial instrument, which is essential for large aquaculture companies to access subsidies for processing and bringing their fish to market, etc. There is evidence of concern in the European Commission regarding this situation. As there have been efforts since the financial period began to implement the EMFF occasionally, APROMAR passionately reported to the regional, state and European administrations in 2018 the reasons that it considers the use of the EMFF to be insufficient in Spain, which is the leading member state recipient of the funds (1.161 billion euros): (1) The complexity of the administrative framework and Spain's competencies; (2) Insufficient collaboration between public administrations; (3) Restrictions in public budgets (state and regional); and (4) The complexity of the EMFF regulation itself. APROMAR has emphasized, in particular, that under no circumstance should scant use of the EMFF be attributed to a lack of interest by companies.
APROMAR's innovation department, APROMAR-Rema (Marine Aquaculture Experimentation Network), organized an interesting event in June called "AquaHub: Competitiveness and Sustainability of Spain's Aquaculture Companies with Blue Growth." The idea was to create a meeting point to discuss innovation in aquaculture. At the event, discussions addressed spacial planning in aquaculture, competitiveness, communication, and social responsibility. Essentially, it revolved around the three pillars of Blue Growth in aquaculture. AquaHub will be organized again in 2019.
VETERINARY ISSUES. In Europe, the new regulations on Medicinal Feed and the other on Veterinary Medicines were approved in 2018. Both apply to aquaculture as a farming activity and consider the necessary specificities for their correct application in aquaculture. This adaptation of the regulation was possible as it was written by veterinary experts from the Spanish Federation of Health Defense Groups in Aquaculture (FEADSA), in cooperation with APROMAR. The increase in creation of new Aquaculture Farming Health Defense Groups (ADS) was one of the measures promoted by APROMAR to optimize the health of farmed fish, including improving the availability of veterinary medicines and products. Although, with territorial livestock, the Groups are created on a regional level, in aquaculture they also exist in each of Spain's "autonomous communities." FEADSA recently added the ADS from Aragón and the Aquaculture ADS from the Canary Islands. The territorial representation of members of the FEADSA now includes Valencia, Murcia, Andalusia, Galicia, Aragón and the Canary Islands. Regardless, FEADSA defends the interests of all Spanish fish farmers in terms of the health of the species grown by APROMAR members and vis-a-vis all related requests concerning this issue, primarily at Spanish and European level.
DEFENSE OF FREE COMPETITION. APROMAR defends the free market and fair competition among all members of the sector. Accordingly, it always strives to ensure that nobody infringes on those rights, especially at international level and with regard to imports. Along these lines, in 2018, and in view of the formal request to eliminate the European Union's import duties on rainbow trout from Turkey, the European Commission concluded in an evaluation that the decline in existing subsidies between 2013 and 2016 in Turkey for trout production was offset by an increase in aid per ton as from 2017 and with the introduction of new, secondary subsidy measures. As a result, the European Commission decided to maintain the financial compensation measures imposed by Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/309 in 2015. The current duties on rainbow trout imports to the EU from Turkey will be in force until at least 2020.
APROMAR, together with the main European aquaculture associations, has been working with its lawyers in Brussels on this issue and is pleased with the result, as this protective measure has been decisive in the recovery of production of this species in Europe. After discovering the new subsidies in Turkey for trout production, APROMAR looked into whether they also applied to sea bream and sea bass. It's worth noting that the original subsidies for sea bream and sea bass were withdrawn by Turkey in 2016 to avoid the imposition of a duty after APROMAR presented its case to the European Commission. APROMAR is meeting with the European Commission for this purpose, together with the associations in Greece, Italy, Croatia and Cyprus. One of the most relevant issues submitted to the European Commission has been proof that the Turkish government has been tricking the EU by constantly being included in, and then exiting, its subsidy system.
PROMOTING INNOVATION IN AQUACULTURE. As proof of APROMAR's commitment to sustainable development, in June 2018 it signed a general protocol of action, together with the Ministry's General Secretariat for Fisheries, to boost Blue Growth through aquaculture in Spanish seas. This framework agreement is helping to promote several innovative initiatives.
STANDARDIZATION IN AQUACULTURE. In September, APROMAR-Rema rolled out a project for Standardization in Sea Farms with the Spanish Association for Standardization (UNE) to develop a regulation for the design and maintenance of fish farms in the sea. The goal is to develop a standard that improves the activity's operation, reduces insurance premiums and makes it easier to obtain authorizations. The main members of APROMAR with production in marine hatcheries and suppliers of equipment and related services are participating in this initiative, and the UNE is the technical secretary responsible for the project. The regulation will be complete in spring of 2019.
Q.- What are the main challenges for aquaculture in Spain in 2019?
A.- There are many. APROMAR believes it will overcome them and that the sector in Spain will get back on the path towards growth and job creation.
PREPARATION OF THE EMFF 2021-2027. Although, in 2018, regular use of the EMFF 2014-2020 began, the next EMFF (2021-2027) is starting to be managed. For APROMAR, it's important to note its priorities, because the first draft for the regulation for EMFF 2021-2027, published by the European Commission in June, had many shortcomings. APROMAR is now working with European Parliament to improve the Commission's first document, which it considered deficient. The changes it proposes include (1) determining a specific priority with regard to aquaculture production; (2) maintaining the availability of non-refundable aid for aquaculture production and sales; (3) highlighting group activities; and (4) including the word "aquaculture" in the regulation's name.
COLLECTIVE BARGAINING. Throughout 2018, negotiations were held as part of the 5th National Collective Agreement on Marine Aquaculture but no agreement was reached with the unions. The agreement is expected to be signed in early 2019. The previous editions of the agreement have helped structure a sector which is scattered along the Spanish coasts and for which a labor framework that is not excessively uniform would be suitable.
INNOVATION. APROMAR will remain very active with regard to innovation for Blue Growth in 2019, with new projects such as: (1) State-of-the-art Aquaculture 4.0; (2) Strengthening efforts by Spain's marine aquaculture industry within the Blue Growth framework as a strategy for competitiveness and sustainability (AQUAHUB); and (3) Responsible Aquaculture: Microplastics (ACUIPLAS).
Q.- And challenges for Crianza de Nuestros Mares (Raised in Our Seas) in 2019?
A.- One of the most innovative and important actions rolled out by the Spanish industry in recent years was the collective brand, Crianza de Nuestros Mares. This seal allows consumers to easily identify sea bream and various types of sea bass that were farmed in Spanish seas. Throughout 2019, Crianza de Nuestros Mares will continue to implement informational and promotional actions so that consumers increasingly trust the quality seal and are aware of the products' advantages compared with imported fish, as they are fresher, higher quality, and the result of a careful farming process.