Ireland cheers 7.4% seafood growth

IRELAND’S  Seafood industry, including fish farming,  grew by an impressive 7.4 per cent, contributing €1.1 billion in GDP to the Irish economy according to Bord Iascaigh Mhara’s (BIM) annual ‘Business of Seafood’ report.
Titled “Winning in a Changing Environment”, the BIM report says the biggest drivers being new investment and  domestic sales which were worth an estimated  €380 million. Further significant growth is being predicted.
BIM’s chief executive Jim O’Toole said: “We have a valuable and sought after raw material that is in great demand on our key markets contributing €376 million in fish landings alone, €167 million in farmed fish and shellfish and employing 11,000 people in our coastal communities.
“The task facing the sector now is to build on this growth, add value and diversify to withstand current challenges including Brexit. BIM will continue to provide supports to enable this valuable industry to achieve its full potential and our conference today sets out how we intend to future proof the sector in the years ahead.”
The news comes as Ireland’s Independent Aquaculture Licence Review Committee is also looking at substantial  growth in this sector. The review committee was set up by Agriculture, Food and Marine Minister Michael Creed to examines the process of licensing for aquaculture and its associated legal framework. This was in keeping with actions identified in Food Wise 2025 and Ireland’s National Strategic Plan for Sustainable Aquaculture Development.
“Our aquaculture sector has enormous potential to sustainably grow its production of seafood to meet the opportunities presented from growing world demand for safe, sustainable seafood,” said Mr Creed.The minister added: ““Ireland’s National Strategic Plan for Sustainable Aquaculture Development aims to sustainably grow our production across all species by 45,000 tonnes.”According to the Irish Examiner, Mr Creed said to achieve that goal, there is a need to revamp the aquaculture licensing process as well as its associated legal frameworks. This move would ensure that an operator can have a decision on an aquaculture licence application within timeframes that compare favourably to our competitors.