Fish farming in Europe

Fish farming in Europe

Fish farming in Europe Commercial and political dimensions ‘Fish farming ‘Fish farming we produce will never be a source of cheap protein.’ will l...

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Fish farming

in Europe

Commercial and political dimensions

‘Fish farming ‘Fish farming we produce

will never be a source of cheap protein.’ will literally

revolutionize

both our eating

habits and the way

food.’

R.G.B. Parker

The

author

argues

considerable production will

caught

strong

fish,

animal

farmed

fish for

and

agriculture.

eventually

Demand

elasticities,

response

by while

(such

offered

by

farmed

fish

low

other

wider

choice

growing

species)

consumption.

In

governments

have

will price

certain

as the

the

for land

from

tempered

of

increased

competition

protein

factors

because

for

efficiency,

provide

be

that,

scope

range

will

of

stimulate

all

countries,

a role to play -

undertaking basic biological eg research. This role for government, together

with

presented

by

competitors, will the

be

the fish

explains

important

rate at which

challenge

farming in

why

to

its

politics

determining

the new

industry

will expand.

The

author

economist Institute,

is

an

agricultural

at the Battelle Research 7 Route de Drize, 1227

Carouge,

Geneva, Switzerland. He commercial in the techno-economic application of innovations in food and agriculture. specializes

This article is partly based on research carried out by the Battelle Research institute in the USA and Europe.

194

These quotations reflect the divergence of views among specialists about fish farming and its future. It is not surprising that a good deal of debate exists as to whether, like hydroponics, fish farming is the passing fancy of a few academic scientists or something that might one day account for a significant part of animal protein supplies. Several prognoses can be found where the rate of expansion is linked to the success with which research is expected to master this or that obstacle, be it biological, chemical or physical. Other efforts have followed a commercial line and tried to make forecasts about fish farming in relation to what is expected to become of capture fisheries. Both these approaches are necessary and address forces that will have an important bearing on the future. However, on their own they are inadequate as a basis for prediction and have created some misleading ideas. The future of fish farming depends on the interplay of many factors - technical, commercial, political - which influence supply and demand. Only when this ensemble is analysed as a whole can any realistic picture of the future emerge.’ As part of this process it is interesting to look at various economic and political dimensions across Europe. These have received scant attention in the debate and yet they are critical components of the whole.

Background

to changing patterns of commerce

In many respects, fish farming is similar from one country to another: an infant industry with attendant inefficiencies and problems and highly variable profitability, which is mainly a ‘cottage’ enterprise, and which employs a few thousand people at most. Since fish farming is still largely dependent on nature for its operating conditions of water quality (including temperature, oxygen and so on), warmer water species like sea bream and mullet are farmed in the valli on the

0306-9192/79/030194-10

$02.00

0 1979

IPC Business Press

Fish farming in Europe Table 1. 1976

animal production

(thousand

Caught fish

Sources: For caught fish, Organisation Economic Co-operation and for Development, Review of Fisheries in 7976, OECD. Paris; for meat, Food and Agriculture Organization, Production Yearbook 1976, FAO, Rome; for farmed fish, Battelle Research Institute, Geneva. * Includes beef, veal, mutton, lamb, goat, pig, poultry, and horse. t Farmed fish as a percentage of total caught fish and meat production.

tonnes). Meat*

Total

Belgium Denmark France Ireland Italy Netherlands Norway Portugal Spain Sweden UK West Germany

44 1 888 697 89 381 247 3 183 286 1 535 203 933 301

1 005 1 061 4 879 528 2 993 1 675 169 352 2 020 498 2 829 4 191

1 049 2 949 5 576 617 3 374 1 922 3 352 638 3 555 701 3 762 4 492

Total

9 787

22 200

31 987

Farmed cl

fish

%+

25 215 3 55 115 5 Cl 135 1 6 32

0 1 4 0 2 6 0 0 4 0 0 1

593

2

coast of Italy, while salmon flourish in cages in Norwegian fjords. Transposed, they would not be suitable for farming. Quantitatively, fish farming is uniformly unimportant in relation to other sources of animal protein, as shown in Table 1. Fish farming hardly rates serious consideration in discussions about the economy or nutrition and, more important, has attracted little attention from the pressure groups serving either agriculture or capture fisheries. Politically, it is not a bone of contention and several countries among them the UK, Spain and Denmark - have not yet advanced to the point of producing a coherent policy. However, this apparent lack of weight masks a considerable dynamism. Production in all its aspects is undergoing rapid change. After starting with high priced species such as salmon (where sales recoup the highest proportion of costs), entrepreneurs are now able to justify in commercial terms the farming of slightly lower priced fish such as Dover sole and turbot. Plaice, on the other hand, remains cheaper from off a trawler. Production costs are lowering as the requirements of the fish in terms of nutrition and water environment are better understood, and then matched more closely by on-farm conditions. The scope for progress still to come can be judged from a few indicators, discussed below. 0

0

’ The Battelle Research Institute. Geneva, has recently performed a multiclient study to identify business opportunities related to the development of fish farming in 10 countries in Western Europe. 2 Dr Trygxe Gjedrem, Agricultural University. As, Norway. A notable feature is that the variation in growth rates and certain other characteristics is large between fish of a given wild population; hence, there are prospects for substantial improvements in the average performance of genetically enhanced fish populations. 3 Northwest and Alaska Fisheries Center, Seattle, Washington, USA, Monthly Report, December 1976.

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0

0

Rainbow trout losses between fingerling stage and harvest, through disease, oxygen starvation and other problems, commonly reach 40-50%. In one of the early breeding programmes for growth rate improvement, Norwegian geneticists have achieved a lo-20% increase in rainbow trout between successive generations.2 This represents only the first of many advances that could come about, not only for rainbow trout but for other species as well. Rations fed to fish contain 50% of high quality animal protein, or even more for juveniles. In experiments with salmon where up to 40% of this has been replaced by yeast single cell protein (and 100% by bacterial SCP), no appreciable loss of growth rate or fish quality has been observed.3 This indicates that current feeds, based on attempts to imitate what fish live on in nature, may be unnecessarily rich and therefore expensive. Since feed represents 40-50% of total farming costs, large economies will be possible when correct, least-cost diets can be identified and a wider range of sources of feed raw material made available. About a dozen parameters determine the quality of water in

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Fish farming in Europe

l

which fish live (eg temperature, oxygen, acidity and nitrate level). Fish grow best when each of these - and the group as a whole is at its optimum level. Their influence is critical. However, apart from an initial check when the fish farming site is first selected, most of these are not subsequently monitored on a continuous or even regular basis. This at the very least reduces fish growth performance and at the worst causes mortality. The problem is that not much is yet known about the optimum or range of tolerance for the various parameters. Scarcely any equipment exists with which to monitor the water. Average labour productivity is low. Most farms are achieving lo20 tonnes of fish per year per full-time employee. However, some of the larger trout farms in Italy and the USA produce at a rate of 120 tonnes per man. Despite the extra capital investment called for to install labour-substituting machinery such as automatic feeding, the net benefit from reaching these higher productivity levels is of the order of 10 to 15% of farm costs.

Time

Figure

1. Comparative

fish and various

productivity

of

land animals.

There are similar prospects for other factors such as improvements in the production of young fish, energy saving, and economies of scale from increasing unit size. In short this new industry is beset with many problems associated with breaking new ground. As a corollary to this, however, the prospects for the future are positive. Costs of production in real terms are dropping and will continue to do so and the range of species worth farming is gradually widening.

Fish and meat - the competition ‘Although it is not immediately apparent, several studies have demonstrated the characteristics of competition between fish and meat. See, for example, T. Young, ‘A study of the demand for fish in the UK’, University of Manchester, Department of Agricultural Economics, Bulletin 158, Januarv 1977: and D. Coleman, ‘The demand for fish in the UK: a further analysis’, White Fish Authority, Edinburgh, 1972. Recreational fishing, weed control, ornamentation and other markets for farmed fish are of much less importance than the food market. ‘This is not to be confused with the higher yields achieved when output increases in response to more inputs. ’ Genetic engineering may one day raise this potential for existing animals, or animals. But this is not create ‘new’ certain and, even if it were accepted and successful, it would likely involve lengthy and costly research. The fish has its full natural potential to be exploited and part of the necessary knowledge to do this has already been accumulated and ‘paid for’ in work on poultry, pigs, and other animals. 7 See Professor W. Holmes, ‘Choosing between farm animals’, paper presented to the Royal Society, London, 17 1976: (edible protein November produced/crude protein eaten) (I 00) =25 for rainbow trout; =17 for broiler hens; =4 for lamb: and =I 8 for beef.

196

A simplifying but justified assumption may be made that competition for farmed fish is limited to the products of capture fisheries on the one hand and animal products from agriculture on the other.4

Agriculture It is not surprising that after thousands of years of domestication a great deal of improvement has been achieved in the productivity of land animals.5 Particularly in the past 50 years with advances from the understanding of genetics, remarkable progress has been made. The cheap broiler hen is one classic example. However, it is also clear that the rate of improvement is slowing down, as the biological asymptote of maximum potential is being reached.‘j On the other hand, the outlook for fish farming is promising since farmed fish are only at the beginning of their production function (see Figure 1). In addition, their efficiency as converters of energy and primary food material may put them on a higher curve than land animals since: 0

0

They float, less of their total body weight is in the form of skeleton and more of their feed intake is used for producing flesh.’ They are cold-blooded and do not expend energy maintaining a constant body temperature. They can be farmed ‘vertically’ as well as ‘horizontally’ (especially certain flatfish) and therefore output per cubic metre of water is high.

0

With

their

increasing

superiority

over

agricultural

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animals

August

in

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Fish farming in Europe

producing animal protein, farmed fish will cost progressively than, for example, beef, eggs and mutton.

‘The superabundant krill of the southern oceans will be very costly to catch and transport to its end markets. The blue whiting, a formerly little used species, is available in large quantities near Western Europe but is posing problems of mav acceptability which consumer necessitate expensive processing.

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less

Capture fisheries The essential point of comparison between capture fisheries and fish farms is the landed price per tonne compared to the farmgate price of farmed fish. The landed price depends on three factors. First, it depends on the availability of natural stocks of fish. Over large parts of the world’s oceans the history of fisheries has been one of serious over-exploitation which has led to the decline of many stocks, some to dangerously low levels; the North Sea herring is an example. With a few possible exceptions there is little prospect of new or unexploited stocks being discovered.8 The situation varies between stocks and between different parts of the oceans, but overall it is unrealistic to hope to sustain substantially higher global catches. In some areas sharp decreases in existing catch levels are needed now to reach so-called ‘optimum sustainable yields’. Second, there is the question of access. The tortuous operation of the European Economic Community (EEC) Common Fisheries Policy illustrates that, in addition to adequacy of stock levels, fishermen have the problem that they are unemployed unless they have rights of access. For conservation and economic reasons, several fleets (eg from West Germany) have been excluded from large parts of their traditional fishing grounds. Third, and most important, is the cost of catching. Here there is some analogy to agriculture, in that after centuries of development the operation of fishing vessels has been considerably improved. Hull design, propulsion systems, fish finding equipment, catching gear, automation and many other innovations have transformed the process. From now on, however, it seems that breakthroughs in fishing methods are unlikely and the scope for improvements in existing techniques is limited. Putting these elements together, it is virtually inevitable that the landed price of caught fish will continue to rise over the years to come. Before it reaches the consumer, farmed or caught fish must go through a distribution network and often also be processed and packaged. The associated mark-up in price for caught fish can be lOO-300%. Due to two factors - standardization and lower risk - it will be possible to have a substantially lower mark-up for farmed fish. One function of merchants is to bear risks involved with balancing supply and demand. In due course, the supply of farmed fish will become predictable, which will dimish the risk element and with it the need to trade through merchants. A direct contract is already in force between one particular trout farm in the UK and one of the largest retail supermarket chains, completely bypassing any intermediate dealing stage. Such contracts could reduce the total mark-up by about half. In addition to any considerations of consumer choice, the main reason for the limited processing applied to caught fish (eg filletting, gutting, skinning, deheading), lies in their variability. One net brings in not only different species, but also many sizes of each species. This, coupled with the unpredictable and seasonal nature of catches, provides a constraint to manufacturers to develop machinery capable of more complex fish-processing. Should consumer demand warrant

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Fish farming in Europe

it, farmed fish would permit the further development of processing when supplies become regular, non-seasonal and consisting of standard-sized fish. It may be considered from the above that if the production of cheap animal protein is the criterion, fish farming will have substantial advantages over its two competitors, capture fisheries and land agriculture. It is at this point that the consumer must be brought into the picture.

Demand

9The UK’s White Fish Authority conducted numerous consumer farmed turbot, especially on indicate good acceptability.

198

have tests. which

Although the 20th century has been a period of change in almost every aspect of life, man has remained curiously inert in attitudes to food. Will fish from a farm be acceptable to consumers; will they respond to the offer of real freshness and reliable quality, overlook the loss of ‘wildness’, and put aside long-standing prejudices which associate fish with inferior nutrition? There are many gaps in the understanding of the phenomenon of food consumption. In particular, little is known in any quantitative sense of the social and psychological factors, although they appear of great importance. One is obliged to rely on intelligent guesswork and to fall back inadequately on those other explanatory factors for which some quantitative information exists. In the history of fish consumption since statistics have been available, it may be noted that, of all the influences which explain changes in consumption, price is by far the most important. This is particularly true of fish in relation to its substitutes. However, price is still a difficult device to use to stimulate consumption. Price elasticity of demand is generally low which means that response to price cuts is poor. However, the fact that there is some response suggests that consumers will increase their consumption of farmed fish relative to its substitutes as it becomes available at more favourable prices - all other things being equal. This is a vital condition and relates to the quality of farmed fish. Ten years ago farmed salmon bore little resemblance in flesh colour, taste or texture to its wild counterpart. Today, colour and taste have been considerably improved and sales are increasing. The right texture remains elusive - partly because the musculature that develops during a 4 000 mile journey to Greenland and back from Western Europe is probably impossible to mimic in an enclosed sea loch or a floating cage. With farmed flatfish, the signs are also that consumer acceptance is already quite high.’ Therefore, wherever the quality of farmed fish as perceived by the consumer is close to its wild equivalent, it is reasonable to suppose that relative price will play the decisive role in the choice made between the two. The switch from caught to farmed fish may then be considered not so much a ‘substitution’, as a change in the method of production of a fish that itself has not altered. In that case price elasticity of demand does not come into the question. When it is a simple replacement for caught, the increase in consumption of farmed fish will correspond to the rate at which their relative production costs diverge. On the other hand, it is a true case of substitution when: farmed fish of species x substitutes for caught fish of species y; or farmed fish

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substitutes for meat or poultry. In these cases, the consumption of farmed fish will increase more slowly. On this basis two things are likely to happen. First, the overall growth of fish farming will be rapid to begin with and slow down thereafter. The early phase will correspond to the replacement of caught fish, and the later phase to substitution for meat and poultry. Second, the consumption of species such as trout, for which there is no caught equivalent, will only expand slowly since these are dependent on a process of substitution from the beginning.

Needs of fish farming The picture presented has far-reaching implications. From the aspects of both supply and demand the signs are that fish farming will grow at the expense of capture fisheries and land agriculture. Is this realistic and what are the forces that may alter this laissez-faire evolution? From several viewpoints, governments have reason to look favourably on an expansion of fish farming: 0 0

0 0

‘OThe EEC currently imports 80% of its oilseed cake (1 1 million tonnes worth $2 billion) and 40% of its grain (42 million tonnes worth $7 billion). 8. Favre, ‘De nouveaux aliments proteiques’, La Revue 2000. 3 Trimestre 1977. ” One important advantage is the higher proportion of unsaturated fatty acids to be found in fish. At present only 6 out every 70 grams of animal protein eaten in Western Europe come from fish. ‘2Although this charge is largely true in the research does not bring that immediate benefits to fish farmers, governments are also thinking of the future, to the species that in the long term are likely to be the most important (eg marine flatfish) and, above all, to the type of research work incumbent upon them which neither private fish farmers nor industrial companies will undertake. Most of the fundamental biological research ~ nutrition, disease, etc - falls into this category. r3 In the UK and France, research expenditure by each government on agriculture is around Cl 00 million per year. ” Support for agriculture from individual governments in the EEC and the European Commission is around Cl 1 billion per year.

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Consumers will get a wider choice of animal protein at lower prices - which reflects a more efficient use of resources. Import substitution can be achieved through direct replacement of imported fish and through reduction of imported oilseed cake and grain supplies for poultry, pig and cattle feeds.” Employment can be generated in some remote areas where there are few other possibilities of attracting industry. It is nutritionally desirable that consumption of fish increase at the expense of meat.”

There are, however, only a few signs of governments taking initiatives to assist the development of fish farming. The Norwegian government has adopted a national food policy under which the use of domestic animal feedstuffs is to be encouraged (eg pasture, fish wastes), and the importation of feedgrains discouraged. The production of farmed fish, beef and mutton is intended to rise and that of poultry and milk products to decline. In the UK, the Highlands and Islands Development Board has invested in some commercial fish farming schemes in the northwest of Scotland where employment opportunities are scarce. The biggest contribution made by governments to fish farming continues to be in research. In West Germany, France and the UK, each government is spending &l-2 million per year. In all three countries there is, however, criticism from commercial fish farmers of the irrelevance of some of the research.‘* It is the unimportance of the fish farming industry which is delaying further subvention from governments. In terms of food supplies and employment, they must give priority attention to industries making a larger contribution.13 For the moment, therefore, this new industry functions very much on its own. For an ‘ideal’ development of the industry additional government intervention is being called for by fish farmers: 0 0

Provision of price support and other financial assistance on a par with capture fisheries and land agriculture.i4 Correction of various administrative and legal anomalies acting

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Fish farming in Europe

0

against the interests of fish farming marine installations). Assistance with marketing.

(eg protective

rights over

Financial assistance is the most important of these. In view, however, of the difficulties surrounding national agricultural support policies and the EEC’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), this claim is being resisted firmly. Governments are wary of any further commitments to underwrite another industry, particularly if the industry is to grow and with it the annual burden of support. There are, however, other more immediate constraints upon governments originating from the political strength of the capture fisheries and agricultural industries.

Future of the infant industry

lr’ As a specific case, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) provides an illuminating parallel. Enzyme technology led to the introduction a few years ago of a maizebased sweetener which for 1 O-l 5% of the applications of ordinary sugar (soft drinks, etc) provided a lower confectionery, substitute. With official priced encouragement certain companies in the EEC went so far as to construct facilities to produce HFCS. Although sugarbeet farmers were not being asked to abandon farming altogether (only 15-20% of their have been land would sugarbeet transferred to other crops) they reacted with sufficient force to persuade the European Commission to impose taxes that effectively removed any advantage to users from switching to HFCS. Severe financial embarrassment was caused to the potential HFCS manufacturers and the interests of 250 million EEC sugar consumers were subjugated to those of a sugarbeet few hundred thousand growers. However, the story is not yet over since the European Court of Justice recently ruled that the Commission’s tax had been illegal.

200

However justified a particular course of action may seem for the nation as a whole, it will be difficult to undertake if it appears contrary to the interests of a powerful group, even if the latter represents a small proportion of the population. Agriculture provides many examples of this. Ever since state intervention on behalf of farmers in the 1920s and 1930s - at which point there was a strong case for such action - farmers have succeeded in increasing the transfer of money from consumers to producers at levels above what the market would bear if it were free. This is despite the fact that many of the original justifications for assistance have either diminished or disappeared. Price support to keep the least efficient farmers in business has led to levels of profitability for other farmers that are well above what many consider to be in the interests of consumers. So entrenched have farmers become, and in general so skilfully have they wielded their political power, that it may be difficult for a government to take intitiatives to encourage fish farming that is against their interests.15 However, the more immediate challenge posed by fish farming is to capture fisheries rather than agriculture. The already apparent decline of fisheries without any pressure from fish farming adds urgency to the situation. It might at first appear logical for governments faced with this problem to look for an expansion of fish farming as part of the solution to finding new sources of food and other employment for ex-fishermen. The realities of the political situation are such, however, that the opposite is happening. Denmark, one country with a relatively large and important capture fishing industry by European standards, provides an example of this political reality. Harbour blockades by trawlers, declining profitability and loss of employment have highlighted the difficulties of contracting the industry. The government is forced to do all it can to help fishermen (eg fuel subsidies, low interest loans), even though it knows that it is providing not a solution to the problem, but merely temporary measures to reduce social hardship. In this situation the government is able to do practically nothing to assist fish farming. Money available to the government cannot be used to support a rival industry. As a result, there has been stagnation in the output of farmed fish and little new investment in the industry for several years. In addition, legislation on water pollution control has been introduced which, without a counterbalancing government subsidy, will drive a

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number of fish farmers out of business. Irrational as the situation may be from a long-term point of view for both fish farmers and fishermen, political initiatives that might be seen as a threat to the immediate employment situation in capture fisheries are out of the question. In Norway a different approach has been adopted. The government has at least accepted that the two industries may be complementary rather than competitive. Many fishermen on the west coast find it impossible to operate in their small boats when the weather is bad, particularly in winter. This gives them time for other employment. Largely on their own intitiative, a few hundred people are now earning two livings: one as fishermen and the other as fish farmers. This is one approach to the dilemma confronting a government looking for a long-term alternative to the indefinite continuation of support for the capture fisheries industry. As it becomes justifiable to produce a larger proportion of fish supplies through farming over the next lo-20 years, resources will shift out of one industry and into the other. Both labour and capital assets will have to be redeployed.

Pressure from fish farmers

l6 One

important objective for fish farmers is to be classified in the same category of livestock producers as poultry or pig farmers, thereby qualifying them for various subsidies and guaranteed prices.

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Against the combined strength of capture fisheries and agriculture fish farmers are not yet numerous or influential enough to advance their cause far in a political sense. They want immediate action from government but, as mentioned above, very little has been forthcoming. However, in Norway the fish farmers’ association (Norske Fiskeoppdretteres Forening) has since its foundation in 1970 gone a long way to provide services to its membership (such as information and marketing) as well as to represent it. With a turnover of 212 million per year already, it is certainly one of the most effective of the European fish farmers’ lobbies. Despite this, the efforts made by the government to help fish farmers amount to little firm financial commitment. Its role so far has been mostly passive and less than Norwegian fish farmers have needed. In France and Italy, fish farmers for the moment are maintaining their independence. In the rest of Western Europe the tendency has been for them to form some sort of alliance with other land farmers or fishermen. Since fish farmers have started from a position of weakness, short-term considerations have played the dominant role in forming these alliances. l6 The irony that such a linkage is bringing together future competitors seems to be too remote to excite much comment. An alternative explanation has been advanced that in the long run both the ‘defending’ industries will be better able to turn developments to their advantage by cooperation rather than by confrontation. Where farmers and fishermen are also becoming fish farmers, this may be a prelude to exactly such a defence. In West Germany, where the fishing industry has been seriously affected by the loss of almost half its traditional fishing grounds, fishermen are already connected through their association (Deutsche Fischerei Verband) to fish farmers. In the face of the literal disappearance of their traditional business, several companies involved with fishing or related onshore industries (eg boat building, fish processing) have been actively looking for investments in fish farming. A Bremerhaven fish meal manufacturer is one of the co-

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investors in a very modern trout farm using hot water effluent from a dairy plant. In the Republic of Ireland several important initiatives to encourage fish farming have involved the Irish Sea Fisheries Board set up originally to expand capture fisheries. In a representational sense the small group of fish farmers is identified more with fishing than with farming. In the UK, by contrast, it is notable how little interest the capture fishing industry has shown in fish farming - despite a declining fleet, loss of fishing grounds and severe contraction in certain fishing ports. The fish farmers have become part of the National Farmers’ Union. In Belgium, Holland, Spain and Sweden, the fish farmers’ organizations are still embryonic and alliances are at the stage of formation.

Conclusion Across Europe the political and commercial dimensions to fish farming are in an early phase of development. There is a rare opportunity to bring about desired changes in an orderly and effective way. It is not a question of whether fish farming will or will not expand, it is rather one of when and how. The potential advantages in terms of economics, nutrition and resource use are considerable. Fortunately there is enough time to moderate or resolve most of the short-term problems that may arise, such as unemployment and retraining, in shifting certain resources out of fisheries and agriculture and into fish farming. Over the next 10 to 15 years fish farming may grow to provide perhaps 10% of animal protein. It will take this much time for the required technical development on the production side and the necessary evolution of demand. This is a process gradual enough for the benefits achieved to be widespread. The governments’ role should be to take responsibility for giving active encouragement where no one else can do so, to stimulate the industries associated with fish farming to invest where necessary, and - above all - to plan. Even for such a small part of the economy, considerable macroeconomic skill will be needed to bring about the required shifts in employment and use of capital assets, and other elements involved; to slide a third industry smoothly into the niche currently occupied by two others. Although the private sector has in many ways already responded well to take initiatives in fish farming, further expansion is needed if optimum progress is to be made. It will not be possible for some time to present potential investors with clear-cut feasibility studies where costs, prices, rates of return - in short, the risks - are described with precision or at least with tight sensitivity analyses. Some companies have been guilty of ambivalence in this respect and there have been too many cases of over-hasty investments followed by unnecessary liquidations. On the other hand, as a growing number of companies have successfully demonstrated, a realistic investment approach recognizing the patience and time required to secure a reasonable yield can be rewarding. This applies not only to fish farming itself and the associated industries upstream (eg feed, equipment, chemicals) but also to processing and distribution. In the latter two, business initiatives have been almost completely missing in Europe although

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the opportunities here with farmed fish are even greater - if less apparent -than in production. Supranational policy, too, has an important function. Just as there is a Common Fisheries Policy for the EEC, so there must be a Common Fish Farming Policy, with due regard for the interests of non-member countries. Among its tasks would be to organize, regulate and encourage where necessary in areas such as coordination of research and development, free trade, disease control, channelling of investment funds and training. For all its good intentions the European Commission now has little time or resources to devote to fish farming - it is preoccupied with handling a declining capture fisheries industry. As events have shown, it may be easier to secure agreement between member governments over initiatives with a bearing on fish farming, with its positive connotations for nutrition and employment, than in disputes over the sharing of EEC fisheries resources. On the basis of technical development the future of fish farming offers the prospect of a less subsidized, cheaper, more diverse and more healthful supply of animal protein. At the same time this will bring economic advantage to certain parts of Europe where alternatives are otherwise limited. The combination of the small size of the fish farming industry today and the relatively long period needed for its development offers an unusual chance to both governments and entrepreneurs to evolve the policies needed to secure a soundly based expansion.

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