Brussels -- Ladies and Gentlemen,
I will be brief… I can see many of you are eyeing up the delicious samples on offer here and this is precisely the purpose today: showcase our 'EU farmed fish'! I am delighted to be here today to highlight the benefits of eating, fresh, locally produced fish. In other words, fish farmed here in the EU. When I say 'fish', I mean of course both finfish and shellfish.
I know I am preaching a convinced audience here. But the growing demand, especially for Omega 3 rich fish, cannot be met by simply fishing more out of the sea. There are simply not enough fish out there and our fish stocks are still reeling from years of overfishing.
Sustainably farmed fish can alleviate this pressure. Sustainable farming means producing while ensuring that our waters stay clean, our ecosystems rich and healthy and that consumer protection and social rules are respected. Future generations have the same right as we have to enjoy our seas, rivers and lakes. Young people should be also given credible expectations to find jobs in thriving companies selling tasty products.
You know it, only 10% of our EU consumption is also farmed in the EU. Much of the imported seafood travels long distances from remote places around the world to reach our tables. Fish farmed in the EU represents an excellent local, sustainable alternative. Initiatives like the Italian 'Chilometro Zero' are also based on this very same logic. We want to spread this message of the quality of our EU products.
This fresh farmed fish meets not only our high consumer protection requirements, but also the quality standards in taste and texture demanded by 'top chefs'. Top chefs like Mr Vissani and Mr MacGillivray, who I am delighted to welcome here today to tell us why they use farmed fish in their cooking. And I hope to learn a few tasty tips which I can bring home.
So before I have a chat with our special guests, let me leave you with two messages: Firstly, look out for our exciting project with schools from across Europe later in the year to promote aquaculture.
Secondly, I would encourage you all to help us spreading the gospel about our locally farmed European fish. Not only does it help us protect wild fish stocks but is also healthy, sustainable and, as our two chefs are about to tell us, tasty!