Meeting with the Portuguese Secretary of State for Forestry and Rural Development
On 29 March 2017 João Cotter and Maria dos Santos, the Portuguese members representing the EU Aquaponics Hub COST Action, together with researchers from MARE (Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre) and the Mayor of Torres Vedras, had a meeting at the Ministry of Agriculture in Lisbon with the Secretary of State for Forestry and Rural Development. Fish ‘n’ Greens, an urban aquaponics project, was presented at the meeting, together with the main issue considered to be the biggest constraint to the project as well as to the development of aquaponics in Portugal in general: the fact that the most suitable fish species for aquaponics systems – Nile Tilapia – is banned by law in Portugal! For the past five years Aquaponics Iberia has been trying to raise the awareness of the Portuguese Government and the ICNF – Institute for Nature Conservation and Forestry – of the benefits of adopting European legislation on the production of exotic aquaculture species. Since the Portuguese law is presently under review, there’s a good chance that in the short term it may be possible to produce Nile Tilapia in Portugal in aquaponics systems, as long as it complies with the European standards for closed installations. Other issues that were brought to the table included the need to support more sustainable and innovative forms of agricultural production, such as aquaponics and urban agriculture, which are currently ignored by development support programs. The government representatives said they would be open to the idea of including this in the agenda for the next agricultural support programs.