Fish raised in Mediterranean aquaculture farms guarantees stable prices throughout the year in an inflationary environment such as the current one, thanks to a controlled production that does not depend on seasonality. In addition, they are a guarantee of quality, freshness and origin, since they come from our coasts; as well as food security and environmental sustainability by not depleting the fishing grounds.
In Spain, since 2015 there has been a distinctive seal for fish from aquaculture fish, ‘Breeding of Our Seas‘, which can only carry fish raised in aquaculture farms on our coasts, and which, in the case of this badge, focuses on three native species (those that are foreign are not allowed to be raised) from the Mediterranean, such as the sea bream, sea bass and croaker, 95% of whose production already comes from fish farms and that is marketed, for example, in more than 371 points of sale in the supermarkets of El Corte Inglés, Hipercor, El Corte Inglés, Salvamas, Alcampo and Eroski.
The ‘Crianza de Nuestros Mares’ seal, which is financed by the EU and the Government of Spain, is an initiative of the business association Apromar, which integrates the company Avramar, together with the companies Acuanaria, Geremar and piscialba. For the consumer, it is easy to know if the fish they buy is Spanish and therefore fresh, and from aquaculture, since it bears this stamp or label attached to the gills. Apromar brings together 95% of aquaculture producers in Spain.
Eduardo Soler, head of Sustainability in Spain at Avramar explains that in a context in which the European Union imports 70% of the fish it consumes, “aquaculture allows us to know the origin of the fish, which also arrives in 24 hours, preserving the cold chain. It is a controlled fish in food with more content in omega-3 and omega-6, up to ten times moreand that it is free from the anisakis circuit because there is no food chain”.
Delving into the issue of food, Soler specifies that the feed given to the fish “is extruded and is only made up of vegetable fishmeal and fish oils or by-products of tuna or salmon”, hence its nutritional richness. Regarding its taste, he points out that “aquaculture fish is tastier than capture fish, which is drier“.
Soler recalls that fish from aquaculture has the advantage, compared to extractive fishing, “that the entire process is controlled and does not depend on the season, which allows it to maintain its price“. He also maintains that aquaculture is the future, since its production is still far from the capacity of the sea to accommodate aquaculture farms, which would be 120 million tons per year, 35 million more than traditional fishing. Currently, aquaculture It already contributes more than 50% of the fish destined for the world’s food.”It is the protein of the future,” says Soler.
One of the false myths that surrounds aquaculture fish has to do with the supposed “overcrowding” to which it is subjected. Something that is false, since this fish, which reproduces in facilities on land and is then transferred to nurseries in the sea, “has 98% of the space in the nurseries for swimming” they point out from Apromar.
Leader in aquaculture
Spain is the main aquaculture producer in volume in the EU, with approximately 350,000 tons of fish per year, followed by the United Kingdom, France or Italy, while in value it occupies fourth place. The sector employs some 18,000 people in Spain who work in more than 5,000 aquaculture establishments. The species that are most farmed in our country are rainbow trout, turbot, sea bream or corvina, and other more recent ones such as sole and corvina.
Impact of the Ukrainian war
According to Aprmar, “the war in Ukraine is having a dramatic impact on Spanish aquaculture, since the price of feed for farmed fish (the feed) represents approximately 60% of the production costs. As the Ukraine crisis has unfolded, there has been an increase in the price of relevant vegetable raw materials, such as wheat gluten, corn, sunflower oil and rapeseed oil) because Ukraine is a world operator in the production of these agricultural products”.
The aquaculture association also reports that many aquaculture farms are electricity intensive, so the sharp rise in the price of electricity has hurt them notably, as well as the increase in the cost of liquid oxygen, directly related to the cost of electricity, as well as transport costs due to the increase in the price of fuel.