Aquaculture Europe 2016 took place in Edinburgh between the 20th and 23rd of September. This conference is organized by the European Aquaculture Society and is an annual event. It is a focal point for meetings of EU Project Consortia and offers an important platform for the discussion of the latest scientific research results in aquaculture.
In the consumer session of the Aquaculture Europe 2016, Yvonne Feucht from the Thünen Institute of Market Analysis presented results of the SUCCESS project in two talks. Both presentations were in the field of consumer research. The first talk focused on consumers' use of online sources related to fish. One of the main outcomes was that the internet gains in importance as primary information source about fish. The most used web offers were those of consumer associations and producers. Many consumers indicated to use a combination of different web offers. The most prevalent combination was the use of producer offers together with offers of NGOs and consumer organizations. Users of web offers of NGOs and consumer organizations were more interested in ethical attributes of fish such as eco-friendliness and were more involved in fish but not necessarily more knowledgeable about fish. In contrast users of web offers of producers showed a higher interest in hedonic attributes of fish (e.g., quality and healthiness) and were more knowledgeable about fish. As such web offers of NGOs and consumer organizations should try to display information in a short and clear manner. Promising topics are sustainability and animal welfare combined with advices for shopping and preparing of fish. Since users of producer web offers are in tendency more knowledgeable more complex information with respect to fish is welcomed on web offers of producers. Most promising topics are practical advices with respect to fish preparation and shopping as well as information about quality and healthiness.
The second talk centered on the question if market opportunities for sustainable fish made in Europe exist. The talk highlighted that indeed consumer preferences for sustainable fish from Europe do exist. European origin was often seen as a safety guaranty. More than half of the participants in the study stated to have an additional willingness to pay for organically or sustainably produced, rose according to higher animal welfare standards and locally produced fish. The target group for sustainably produced fish are better educated and ethically motivated consumers, and in addition, people which are more involved in and more knowledgeable about fish. In order to reach these consumers a well targeted communication is needed. Promising arguments for sustainable fisheries are the protection of endangered species and the conservation of biodiversity and fish stocks. For sustainable aquaculture the protection of endangered species is also a promising argument followed by the production of a high quality fish with minimal residues, with high fish welfare and a near-natural production.
Back to back with the Aquaculture Europe a workshop on Aquaculture Food Security of the South Atlantic Research Cooperation was organized by the Marine Resources Unit of the Directorate General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission on the 20th of September. The workshop aimed to reinforce cooperation in the field of aquaculture among Europe, and the Middle and Southern part of the Atlantic countries (e.g. Brazil and South Africa) in the framework of developing the All Atlantic Research Alliance by identifying areas of common interest.
During the workshop Yvonne Feucht presented a short overview about the SUCCESS-project combined with some first results from the project with respect to consumers' perception of sustainable aquaculture and promising communication strategies for aquaculture products. The workshop participants were highly interested in finding out more about consumers' and societies perception about aquaculture and options for communication since they felt that a more negative image of aquaculture compared to fisheries prevails.