A new strategy for aquaculture is required to stimulate production and tap the growing global market for fish, the European Commission has said.

The potential of aquaculture was not being realised in Europe, said commissioner for maritime affairs and fisheries Joe Borg in an official communication to the European Parliament and Council last week.

EU aquaculture - which produces 1.3 million tonnes of fish a year - had stagnated because of fragmentation, limited access to capital and space, and insufficient availability of medicines and vaccines, the document claimed. It also faced increased pressure from imports as fish farming grew in other parts of the world. Support for R&D, improved space planning in coastal areas and a better image for the sector were all needed, the EC said.

The UK is the fourth-largest aquaculture producer in the EU.

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