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Displaying items by tag: Annual Review

The Irish fisheries market both at home and abroad experienced an “extremely fragile” situation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the latest Annual Review and Outlook for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Published today (Wednesday 10 November) by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the report details that exports from a sector that employs 16,400 people “directly and downstream” totalled €531 million in 2020 — down nearly 8% on 2019.

“The sector has been severely impacted by COVID-19 which has affected the performance of all species across the sector, particularly within the shellfish category which suffered a 30% reduction in export values,” it said.

France — which is Ireland’s largest export market for seafood, accounting for 11% of exports in 2020 — was “extremely challenging for Irish exporters” last year, with values declining by almost one fifth, or €118 million — driven largely by pandemic-enforced closures across the hospitality sector. A similar depression was experienced across the other main EU markets of Spain, Italy, Germany and Poland.

Exports to Asia also “suffered major declines” last year, with exports of €46 million representing a 48% decline on 2019. Exports to China in particular fell by whopping 70%, and a rise in logistical costs also had a “negative impact” on returns.

It was a bad year for the Irish oyster sector, too, with export value (-30%) and volume (-29%) both down significantly. The only growth was experienced in exports to South Korea and Italy; however these markets “are relatively small”, the report notes.

Salmon exports told a brighter story in 2020, with values rising by 14% with an 11% growth in volume. Poland has now overtaken France as the largest market for Irish salmon, with exports almost doubling, while exports to Germany rose by 10%.

Regarding post-Brexit changes to Ireland’s quota share under the Common Fisheries Policy, the report outlines how quota balancing is being implemented on a phased basis. Pelagic stocks were quota balanced for the years 2018 and 2019, while balancing for the five key demersal (whitefish) stocks was implemented in 2020.

“At this point, it is not clear how the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU will be effectively managed from a fisheries perspective,” the report warns.

Despite the difficulties experienced during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, Ireland’s fishing industry “has continued to keep food in our shops and on our tables during this extraordinary time”.

The report adds: “This has highlighted the vital role that the fishing industry plays in the food chain. This, in turn, underscores the importance of ensuring the sustainability of our fish stocks.”

Further details — including more detailed breakdowns of seafood exports by category, shellfish licensing and a briefing on the Clean Ocean Initiative — can be found in the Annual Review and Outlook for Agriculture, Food and the Marine which is available to download from Gov.ie HERE.

Published in Fishing

William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago

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