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Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency, announced the winners of the first ever BIM National Seafood Awards held on Thursday 17th November 2016 at a Gala Awards event in the Clayton Hotel, Ballsbridge, Dublin.

Out of 38 finalists shortlisted across the areas of Skills, Sustainability, Innovation and Competitiveness, twelve winners received awards for their outstanding contributions to the fishing, fish farming, seafood processing and retail sectors at a ceremony officially opened by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mr. Michael Creed, T.D.

BIM’s CEO Tara McCarthy outlined the rationale behind the awards; ‘The Irish Seafood Sector contributes €1 billion in GDP to our economy and employs over 11,000 people predominantly in our coastal regions. The BIM National Seafood Awards provide us with the opportunity to celebrate the positive contribution of this valuable indigenous industry and recognize excellence and leadership across this diverse sector. It is an exciting time to work in seafood and the high standard demonstrated by our winners and all of our finalists bodes well for the future as we collectively aim to achieve growth as set out in the Government’s Food Wise 2025 plan’

The winners represent a wide geographical spread including three from Donegal; two each are from Cork and Dublin while Kerry, Kilkenny, Louth, Mayo, Waterford and Wexford each had one winner on the night.

Included in the list of winners are two talented young fishmongers; Stephen Hurley from The Fish Shop, Union Hall, Co. Cork and Eimantas Zvirblis from Donnybrook Fair, Malahide, Co. Dublin who have won the coveted title of BIM Young Fishmonger of the Year (Independent Seafood Specialist) and (Supermarket Seafood Counter).

The full list of winners from the first ever BIM National Seafood Awards are:

Category: Skills
· Student of the Year: Barry Shaw (Killybegs, Co. Donegal)

· Young Fishmonger of the Year (Independent Seafood Specialist): Stephen Hurley, The Fish Shop, Glenmar Shellfish, Union Hall, West Cork

· Young Fishmonger of the Year (Supermarket Seafood Counter): Eimantas Zvirblis, Donnybrook Fair, Malahide, Co. Dublin

Category: Sustainability
· Responsible Fisherman of the Year: Jim Connolly, Supreme II, Clogherhead. Co. Louth

· Aquaculture Environmental & Social Responsibility Award: Blackshell Farm, Newport, Co. Mayo

· Green Processor of the Year: Island Seafoods Ltd, Killybegs, Co. Donegal

Category: Innovation
· Best New Fishing Practice: Foyle Warrior Ltd, Greencastle, Co. Donegal

· Innovation in Aquaculture: Dungarvan Shellfish Ltd, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford

· Innovation in Seafood Processing: Oceanpath/Dunn’s of Dublin (Howth, Co. Dublin) & Goatsbridge Trout Farm (Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny)

Category: Competitiveness:
· Fishing Enterprise of the Year: DC Fish Ltd (Union Hall, Cork)

· Aquaculture Enterprise of the Year: Kush Seafarms Ltd, Kenmare, Co. Kerry

· Seafood Enterprise of the Year: Sofrimar, Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford

Establishing leaders in the sector is a key priority for BIM and the final award of the evening, the BIM Lifetime Achievement Award, was presented to the family of a true leader in his field, the late Mr. Martin Howley, as BIM Chairman Kieran Calnan explains; ‘Martin exemplified everything you need to be a great leader. He led by example starting as a fisherman in Killybegs in the 1970’s rising to become a pioneering mackerel Skipper then a successful businessman and a great leader in the fishing industry. His passion, energy and innovative spirit were a unifying and driving force. Martin is a most worthy recipient of the BIM Lifetime Achievement Award’

BIM also introduced an exciting new brand identity to Industry at the event. Grounded in BIM’s plans to enable progress in the seafood sector under its four key priorities – Skills, Sustainability, Innovation and Competitiveness, this fresh and vibrant new look for one of Ireland’s longest established state agencies, is consistent with its vision for ‘Ireland to become the International leader in high value differentiated seafood products that satisfy growing domestic and international demand for nutritious, safe and responsibly and sustainably produced food’.

Details on BIM National Seafood Award 2016 winners:

Student of the Year - Barry Shaw, Killybegs, Co. Donegal
Barry Shaw is from Corkermore, Killybegs, Co. Donegal. He has completed his ‘Class 3 Certificate in Competency in Engineering’ at the National Fisheries College, Greencastle and is now serving his sea time on board a fishing vessel. Prior to the course Barry was serving his apprenticeship as a refrigeration engineer. He was always interested in fishing vessels so decided to further his career and knowledge of engines by doing the course at Greencastle. He loves doing his sea time on board the vessel “Ocean Fresh” and is just back from a trip off the coast of Africa. He said the travelling is fascinating as he is seeing parts of the world he has never seen before.

BIM Young Fishmonger of the Year:
a. Independent Seafood Specialist - Stephen Hurley

Stephen has worked at Glenmar Shellfish/The Fish Shop in Union Hall, Co. Cork for the past 10 years and lives overlooking Union Hall pier in West Cork. Stephen’s interest in the sea began as a young boy and, as a teenager, he became a crew man on a shrimp boat hauling shrimp pots every morning with his neighbour. Stephen prides himself on stocking locally caught fish and shellfish in store. On any given day he has upwards of 25 different species of fish and shellfish. He is in a unique position as he is on first name terms with the skippers and crews and can tell a customer exactly where their fish was caught and by who.

b. Supermarket Seafood Specialist - Eimantas Zvirblis

Eimantas Zvirblis works in Donnybrook Fair’s flagship store in Malahide which opened last Christmas. His passion in life is fish and realised he had a skill in this area when working for the Dublin Smoked Fish company in 2010. He also previously worked in Nicky’s Plaice in Howth, where he developed his customer service skills.
Donnybrook Fair has a large range of seafood on its counter including whole fish, fillets, shellfish, smoked fish, marinade fish, and ready-to-cook fish. Eimanatas particularly enjoys sharing fish recipes with his customers. He believes in his product and eats fish seven days a week. ‘Many of my colleagues in Donnybrook Fair are now eating more fish and many customers are telling me that they are eating more fish too. I believe that spreading this passion is a very important part of being a fishmonger’, Eimantas says.

Responsible Fisherman of the Year - Jim Connolly, Supreme II
Jim Connolly owns and skippers the “MFV Supreme II” which is based at Clogherhead, Co. Louth. He is a board member of Clogherhead Fishermans Co-Op and has been pro-active in undertaking a number of sustainability initiatives to deliver on targets for the Bord Bia Origin Green programme. The “MFV Supreme II” was one of the first vessels to sign up for BIM’s Fishing for Litter trial and Jim participated in a radio documentary, “Fishing for Litter”. He also participates in BIM’s net recycling programme and works closely with Clogherhead Development Group on recycling.
“MFV Supreme II” has its crew welfare as a priority. Jim is committed to the safety and comfort of his crew and the crew s of his fellow vessels in the Clogherhead fleet. He has been instrumental in putting a Co-Op fork lift in other ports where the Co-Op fleet works to assist crews with heavy lifting tasks. He is monitoring the vessel’s fuel efficiency. Jim also organised and designed stretching posts in the hall on the pier to ensure the gear is “weighted” for fuel efficiency – this also reduces the need for excessive use of fork lifts.

Aquaculture, Environmental and Social Responsibility Award - Blackshell Farm
Blackshell Farm is based in Westport, Co. Mayo and has been producing certified organic rope-grown mussels since 1983. They run a marine cargo service servicing the west coast of Ireland and also produce knitted mussel cotton. Blackshell uses only biodegradable and reusable materials to grow their mussels. Director Michael Mulloy is the current Chair of the Irish Shellfish Association, is a director of Clew Bay Oyster Co-Op (since 1988) and is a member of the Clew Bay CLAMS (Co-ordinated Local Aquaculture Management Scheme) group. He also has been a member of a national committee established by BIM to create a mussel quality scheme. Blackshell is certified by Organic Trust Ltd as an organic mussel grower, conforms rigidly to national sampling and monitoring programmes operated by the Marine Institute and the SFPA. They also participated in the ECOpact initiative run by BIM. Blackshell commissioned and expanded a knitting plant in Westport for biodegradable mussel stocking. They continually seek to achieve maximum return from the mussel biomass on their growing sites by ensuring they have optimum density of mussels on the rope. Blackshell monitor fuel usage closely and calculated that only 1 litre of fuel is required to produce 95kg of market size mussels. All product is delivered by sea to the onshore processing plant, eliminating the need for heavy goods vehicle movements on narrow local roads.

Green Processor of the Year - Island Seafoods Ltd
Island Seafoods is a family-owned and run business based just outside Killybegs, Co. Donegal. A verified member of Bord Bia’s Origin Green programme, their fish are fully traceable from “net to fork” and are caught in the North East Atlantic. Island Seafoods was the first company in Ireland to be RSS (Responsibly Sourced Standard) certified by BIM. Managing Director, Mick O’Donnell has been responsible for and integral in driving the green initiative within Island Seafoods. The company has a “squeaky clean carbon footprint” they say as they have their own Hydro-electric plant which saves over 350 tonnes of greenhouse gases a year. They are also moving into wind energy.
Their state-of-the-art waste water treatment plant was commissioned in 1996 and is now seen as the standard for the industry. They also treat wastewater for other businesses in the area. In recent years, they have focused on improving efficiencies within the plant and their Green Team meet regularly to progress this. Energy is managed as a Key Performance Indicator (KPI). Island Seafoods is certified organic by Bio Suisse and Naturland.

Innovation in Aquaculture – Dungarvan Shellfish Ltd
Dungarvan Shellfish is owned by the Harty Family in Dungarvan. an oyster farm producing up to 500 tonnes of Gigas oysters each year. The company buys 20 million oyster seed per year which is usually purchased from hatcheries in France at 6mm. This seed however was suffering a high level of mortality (up to 50%) and it was difficult to get it at the right size and time needed.

To overcome these problems Dungarvan Shellfish set up their own nursery. They started importing seed at 1.5mm instead of 6mm and growing it up to 8mm within only six weeks. After two years of using this new method mortality rates are down 15% and the shape of the oyster has improved.
The cost of buying smaller seed is considerably cheaper. The nursery system that Dungarvan Shellfish has installed is very economical to run and profits have increased considerably. The company plans to make the nursery self-sufficient in seed input and to be in a position to supply other producers with excess seed stock.

Best New Fishing Practice Award - Foyle Warrior Ltd
Foyle Warrior, based in Greencastle, Co. Donegal, has introduced new mesh netting on its vessel the Foyle Fisher, in a mixed demersal fishery in the Celtic Sea. The introduction of the new T90 mesh has resulted in major reductions in catches of undersize whiting therefore complying with new regulations. Traditionally the Foyle Fisher was using 80mm diamond mesh netting when targeting whiting. The new T90 comprises diamond mesh rotated 90 degrees which results in increased mesh openings in the cod-end. This has reduced catches of below market size by 60%. The quality of the catch is also greatly improved and the crew has to spend less time picking and sorting the catch.
Less time spent handling the catch means more time fishing and greater profitability. Substantial improvements in fish quality also add value to the catch.

Foyle Warrior say the cost of introducing T90 was low and can therefore be adopted by the industry. The company is constantly looking for new ways to catch the right sort of fish and improve the quality of the catch.

Innovation in Seafood Processing: Oceanpath Dunn’s of Dublin and Goatsbridge Trout
The innovation was a coming together of Oceanpath Dunn’s of Dublin a seafood processor, with Goatsbridge Trout, a trout farmer, to develop the market for Irish Trout in Ireland. Both companies saw an opportunity to develop sales for trout in a seafood market that was dominated by salmon.

The initial innovation was developing a fixed weight boneless trout fillet for sale on fish counters. Following on from this both companies realised there was an opportunity to develop ready to eat trout products. The first product developed was a cold smoked trout which is now available in all major retailers and is generating retail sales of approximately €400k per annum.

Following on from the success of this product a bbq trout and smoked trout pate were launched. The trout pate has been a fantastic success adding €100k worth of retail sales. Goatsbridge is now a well known brand in seafood and has grown sales of Irish trout significantly. The products have also won Great Taste Awards and Blas na hEireann awards.

Seafood Enterprise/Entrepreneur of the Year -Lorcan Barden & Leslie Bates, Sofrimar Ltd
Lorcan Barden and fellow director, Leslie Bates acquired Sofrimar in 2,000 via a management buyout. Both directors are very strongly committed to ongoing education, upskilling and training for themselves and their staff. Sofrimar invests heavily in the best available technology for the seafood sector and this, combined with a strong focus on staff development, new product development, market expansion and operational excellence has seen a strong growth in turnover, profitability and employment for the company.

A member of Bord Bia’s Origin Green programme, Sofrimar’s commitment to sustainability was recognised earlier this year when it won the “Green Seafood Business Award”. Sofrimar supports co-opetition and worked in partnership with other seafood companies to access international markets including China (where they opened an office in Shanghai), Hong Kong, Taiwan, Spain and Portugal. Sofrimar employs 134 people and has increased both turnover and employee numbers threefold since 2009.

Fishing Enterprise of the Year - DC Fish Ltd
DC Fish is owned and managed by the Deasy family who operate a successful seafood business model that offers a ‘frozen at sea’ product range to domestic retail and export driven wholesale seafood business. The company employs nine staff and has an annual turnover of over €1.8 million.
A significant but focused investment in facilities by DC Fish in recent years enabled under-utilised whitefish product to be frozen at sea and supplied to a developing and growing domestic market. In addition, frozen prawn products were tailored to the domestic retail and food service market. The company was one of the early adopters of the ‘frozen at sea’ method and have proven that there is significant scope to improve the profitability in both the catching and processing sectors via this process.

DC Fish has formed a partnership with a local businessman and opened a fish retail premises in nearby Rosscarbery – Fish Seafood Deli. The business employs 11 full-time staff and 10 part-time staff and has gone from being a retail operation to selling fresh directly to hotels and restaurants and from two mobile units. The company has also developed a range of seafood products which they launched into 20 Super Valu stores in recent months.

Aquaculture Enterprise of the Year Award - Kush Seafarms Ltd
Kush Seafarms was established in June 1987 and is a family-run business based in Kenmare, Co. Kerry. It is Ireland's first organise rope mussels producer and specialises in the export of shellfish globally with particular emphasis on Europe.
The lack of a functioning licensing system and dependence on the commodity outlets for its products meant that Kush struggled to find growth in the sector. In 2009 they devised a new strategy based on innovation, value-added and partnerships. In June of the same year, Kush was the first Irish company to secure organic certification. They then, uniquely for the sector, approached the rope mussel processing sector vis-à-vis outsourcing. In 2010, working with Carr Shellfish Ireland, they launched an organic vacuum pack mussel at Biofach (the world’s leading trade fair for organic food). Contracts with companies in Switzerland and France followed and they are currently working on the US market. Kush decided there was potential in the premium rope mussel IQF meat product and agreed an outsourcing arrangement in Holland in 2011. Despite the growth, employment figures have remained stable thanks to increased mechanisation and the company is profitable.
Martin Howley was born in Castleconnor on the Mayo/Sligo border in 1952. At 17, his school had a visit from BIM as part of a promotional campaign to recruit young men to the fishing industry. Martin immediately set off for Killybegs to begin his career. In the course of his apprenticeship Martin fished on several boats and in 1980 he joined Skipper John Bach as Mate on the MFV Western Viking, Killybegs Fishing Enterprise’s first RSW vessel. In 1981 Martin graduated to Skipper when the company purchased the MFV Jasper Sea and so began the phenomenally successful partnership of these two vessels and their skippers. In recent years Martin was joint owner of MFV Atlantic Challenge along with other vessels.
Martin was a board member of the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation since it was founded in 1979 and became a well-known figure in Brussels where he fought unswervingly for all Irish fishermen. His final project as KFO member was his involvement in the setting up the Bio-Marine Ingredients Ireland plant in Killybegs. This work is ongoing and is a perfect example of the broad vision of a man who could see the benefits of combining the health supplement industry with a fisheries product

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#Seafood - France remains Ireland's largest export market for commercial fishing catches - but African countries now make up one-fifth of total export revenues.

Nigeria, Cameroon, Egypt and Ghana together accounted for 20% of Ireland's seafood export revenues in 2015, according to the Annual Review and Outlook for Agriculture, Food and the Marine launched today (Wednesday 20 July) by Marine Minister Michael Creed.

The report outlines that while there are challenges ahead – in particular the consequences of the UK vote last month to exit the EU, as well as ongoing commodity price volatility – global demand for sustainable agri-food is continuing to grow, and that Ireland, as a world leader in the sector, can look forward to long-term growth prospects.

The full report PDF can be read or downloaded from the department's website HERE.

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#Seafood - Wild Atlantic salmon is now available at fish counters around Ireland.

This salmon comes from sustainably managed traditional net fisheries on estuaries and rivers around Ireland, where the number of returning salmon allows fish to be harvested while maintaining a healthy stock of spawning fish for future generations.

In total, the commercial quota for the wild Atlantic salmon harvest is just 11,131 from a total of 58,599 (angling and commercial combined), which makes it a premium and sought-after product.

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) says wild Irish salmon can be regarded as truly organic, having lived its life in the wild, fed on wild fish and krill, and travelling thousands of miles on its long ocean migration, ensuring firm flesh and high levels of healthy Omega-3 oils.

Salmon conservation measures ensure that only appropriately tagged and recorded wild salmon, commercially caught within the state, may be sold.

As part of the wild salmon and sea trout tagging regulations, all legally caught wild salmon must have a valid gill tag (green in the case of draft net, white in the case of snap net fishing) or tail-tag, in the case of imported wild salmon, before processing, and only authorised dealers or commercial licensed salmon fishermen may sell them. It is not permitted to sell rod caught wild salmon within the state or sell wild salmon without a valid gill or tail tag attached.

Sean Kyne, Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, said: “Wild Atlantic Salmon is a premium product. We all have a duty to ensure that conservation measures continue to be effective. Buying or selling illegally caught salmon jeopardises Ireland’s potential to have a sustainable salmon fishery into the future.”

Farmed salmon and organic farmed salmon is a very different product to wild salmon. Farmed salmon is widely available year round. If consumers have any doubts as to the origin of the salmon, please ask the supplier and help conserve Ireland's wonderful wild salmon resource. Farmed salmon being sold as wild should be reported to the Food Safety Authority. For more information visit

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#Seafood - New Marine Minister Michael Creed yesterday (Friday 27 May) announced the award of €4.3 million in grants to 51 seafood enterprises under five schemes launched earlier this year under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) Operational Programme for the seafood sector.

The grants are co-funded by the Exchequer and EMFF and subject to terms and conditions.

“The EMFF Seafood Development Operational Programme was only adopted in December 2015 and I am delighted that it has so quickly seen these significant investments in our seafood sector provided with the financial supports that will ensure that these critical investments can be implemented," said the minister.

"Collectively, these investments will deliver jobs to coastal communities, develop new value added seafood products, develop new markets and further sales for our seafood products, and develop knowledge and new processes in aquaculture production, disease management and animal husbandry.

"These investments will assist seafood enterprises to contribute to the ambitious growth targets we have set for our processing and aquaculture sectors. I expect to announce further grant offers under these schemes in the coming months."

The grant offers are made under five EMFF Schemes. For the processing sector, €3.4 million was awarded to 27 enterprises under the Seafood Capital Investment Scheme towards total investment of €19.4 million. These investments are projected to create 316 jobs by 2019 and additional sales of €77 million by 2019.

In addition, €157,000 was awarded to four enterprises under the Seafood Scaling and New Market Development Scheme towards total investment of €335,000 and €164,000 was awarded to eight enterprises under the Seafood Innovation and Business Planning Scheme towards total investment of €328,000.

For the aquaculture sector, €199,000 was awarded to four enterprises under the Knowledge Gateway Scheme towards total investment of €305,000, while €382,000 was awarded to eight enterprises under the Sustainable Aquaculture Scheme towards total investment of in excess of €1 million.

Further details of the schemes concerned are available at the BIM website HERE.

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Eight schemes to commence implementation of Ireland’s new €240 million EMFF Seafood Development Programme for the period up to 2020 and beyond, co-funded by the Exchequer and European Maritime and Fisheries Fund were laucnhed today. This announcement follows approval of the Programme in December by Government and the European Commission.

Announcing the launch of the Programme Minister Coveney said “This new Operational Programme more than doubles the amount of development funding for our seafood sector and will be the source of development funding for Ireland’s seafood sector for at least the next 6 years to 2021. It will be the tool to implement the new Common Fisheries Policy, to deliver on FoodWise 2025 for the seafood sector and to deliver the National Strategic Plan for Sustainable Aquaculture Development.”

Minister Coveney launched the first suite of eight schemes to implement the new Programme, saying “I am delighted to announce today an integrated range of new schemes to drive the development of the fisheries, aquaculture and seafood processing sectors over the next 6 years. Perhaps the most important thing this new Seafood Development Programme will do in the years ahead is to strengthen our seafood sector and support the implementation of the new CFP, and in particular the landing obligation, thereby ensuring the future of our industry. I am allocating €67 million in total support to the sea fishing sector through this Programme and €45 million of this will go towards implementing the CFP. A key element of that will be a new €16m Sustainable Fisheries Scheme which I am announcing today. This new scheme will support the fishing fleet in making the adjustments necessary to reduce, to the maximum extent possible, unwanted catch or undersized fish and to make new investments on board the vessels and on shore to assist the industry in moving to a more sustainable and secure future.”

Minister Coveney said “today’s announcement sees two schemes being launched for the Aquaculture sector where €28.8m will be invested under the programme, a targeted inshore fisheries conservation scheme is also being launched and €6m will be invested in this sector under the programme. A Fisheries Local Development Scheme, involving €12m investment over the Programme, is being launched to support local development initiatives in coastal communities. Finally, a further three schemes are launched today to drive forward the development of the seafood processing sector so as to ensure maximum employment is created and value captured from the fish landed or produced in Ireland. In total €24m will be invested in the processing sector under the Programme”.
Minister Coveney added: “This Government is fully commitment to the seafood sector and the coastal communities who are dependent on fisheries and aquaculture. I have provided almost €36 million in 2016 to my Department and a range of implementing agencies to begin implementing the new Seafood Development Programme. I have provided BIM with €22 million in 2016 to implement these 8 and other new schemes that will be announced over the coming weeks including a scheme supporting Producer Organisations to prepare and administer Production and Marketing Plans. This scheme and other EMFF schemes with preferential rates available for Producer Organisations will facilitate the Producer Organisations in fulfilling their central role in the CFP reform process. Further schemes will be introduced over the coming months”

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The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, today announced that the European Commission has agreed and adopted Ireland’s new €241 million development programme for the seafood sector for the period up to 2020 co-funded by the Exchequer and European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.
In announcing the adoption of the Programme the Minister said “I am delighted to announce that our comprehensive €241 million investment package for the seafood sector has been adopted in law by the Commission and the Programme can now be implemented in full. My Department has been working on this for some time with stakeholders and the State agencies that will deliver the Programme. I expect now that Schemes will be rolled out from the beginning of 2016 to assist seafood enterprises to sustainably grow their production, add value to our seafood exports and create much needed employment in our coastal communities. Our Seafood sector is worth in the region of €850 million annually to our economy and I am aiming to achieve €1 billion sales by 2020.

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#seafood – Minster for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD today welcomed the EU Fisheries Commissioner, Karmenu Vella, to the Marine Institute in Galway.

Minister Coveney said "I am delighted to welcome Commissioner Vella to Ireland on his first official visit as Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and the Environment. While the Commissioner will have many opportunities over the coming days to learn about the overall importance of maritime affairs to Ireland, today our focus was on the seafood industry. In particular, this was an opportunity for me as Minister and the relevant stakeholders to provide the Commissioner with an overview on the seafood industry in Ireland and the challenges and opportunities in implementing the new reformed Common Fisheries Policy."

Commissioner Vella, who is responsible for Maritime Affairs and the Environment, is on a three day visit to Ireland during which he will have a number of engagements, the first of which was roundtable discussion with seafood industry stakeholders in the Marine Institute.

Minister Coveney hosted a discussion between the stakeholders - representing the catching sector, processors, the aquaculture sector as well as the environmental pillar – and the Commissioner during a two hour meeting today in the Marine Institute.

Minister Coveney went on to say "Today was a very valuable opportunity for seafood stakeholders to directly engage with Commissioner Vella and to express their views on a wide variety of issues of direct importance to coastal communities dependent on fisheries and aquaculture in Ireland. This kind of direct engagement will ensure that the Commissioner has a solid understanding of the issues of concern to Ireland as we implement the new CFP. In particular, stakeholders raised issues around the phasing in of the new discards ban or Landing obligation and the objective of achieving maximum sustainable yield or MSY by 2020 at the latest".

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#Seafood - Marine Minister Simon Coveney today (Friday 27 March) announced plans for a new €241-million development programme for the seafood sector for the period up to 2020.

The new programme will be co-funded by the EU through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and is subject to adoption by the European Commission.

A public consultation on the minister’s proposals for the new programme and a strategic environmental assessment were published today, with comments invited by 1 May 2015.

In announcing the new programme, Minister Coveney said: “Our seafood sector is worth in the region of €850 million annually to our economy, with exports growing by 70% since 2009 to €540 million. Seafood is widely recognised as a high growth area of our economy, with the potential to grow to €1 billion by 2020.

"The investment package I am announcing today will be a key element in achievement of that growth potential. It will provide the capital to assist seafood enterprises to sustainably grow their production, add value to our seafood exports and create much needed employment in our coastal communities.”

He went on to say that he "negotiated a doubling for the period to 2020 of the EU seafood development funds to Ireland. Under this programme, €147 million will be provided to Ireland under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. Government is providing an additional €94 million in co-funding, demonstrating our commitment to growing and developing the sector.”

The minister said he recognises "at the outset that there will be many views on how these funds would best be invested and on which particular areas should be prioritised.

"Following a detailed process of analysing the investment needs of the sector, I am proposing today that we invest €42 million in implementing the new Common Fisheries Policy, including measures for developing more selective fishing gear, and supporting the new discards ban.

"I am also proposing that we invest a further €6 million to build on the good work that has been ongoing over recent months to revive and sustainably grow our inshore fisheries; €30 million to sustainably develop our aquaculture industry and implement a new national plan for aquaculture that I will be announcing shortly; €12 million to grow the seafood based economies of our coastal communities through community-led fisheries local action aroups; and €41 million to grow markets for our seafood products, develop our seafood processing industry and develop new value added products for those markets. 

"I am also making available almost €10 million to support implementation of EU environmental law, to help protect vulnerable habitats and species and ensure that our seafood sector continues to operate and grow in a sustainable manner.”

The Minister concluded by inviting comments on these proposals by 1 May, and said he looks forward "to considering all views and discussing them with stakeholders”.

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#fishing – The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, announced today the award of €2.7 million in grant-aid to 18 seafood processing companies under the 2015 Seafood Processing Business Investment Scheme. Taken in conjunction with private sector investment, the total investment will be almost €9 million in 2015. The supported projects are projected to deliver 145 Jobs and €41 million in additional sales by 2017. The grants are co-funded by the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine and the European Fisheries Fund under the Seafood Development Programme.

Minister Coveney, in stressing the value of this grant-aid package to the Seafood Processing industry said, "this investment of almost €9 million in 2015 will enable our innovative seafood processers to continue their strong growth trend over recent years that will see the sector continuing to grow sales internationally and grow employment in our coastal communities. It will put the required technology, infrastructure and standards in place to allow these businesses develop added value seafood products that are in great demand on the global market."

The Minister concluded "the Irish seafood processing industry generally, in line with Government policy under the Food Harvest 2020 plan, has strong plans to significantly grow its business further in the years ahead. I believe we can look forward with confidence to seeing the seafood processing sector continuing to be an integral part of Government's policy to grow our indigenous seafood industry".

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#Seafood - Donegal's oyster industry has been hit by an import ban in Hong Kong over an outbreak of food poisoning.

According to The Irish Times, food safety investigators in the Chinese territory were notified by Irish authorities two weeks ago that the presence of norovirus was confirmed at a raw oyster processing plant in the north-eastern county that services the crucial Asian market.

Hong Kong subsequently banned the import of raw oysters from Donegal "for the sake of prudence". More HERE.

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Marine Institute Research Vessel Tom Crean

Ireland’s new marine research vessel will be named the RV Tom Crean after the renowned County Kerry seaman and explorer who undertook three major groundbreaking expeditions to the Antarctic in the early years of the 20th Century which sought to increase scientific knowledge and to explore unreached areas of the world, at that time.

Ireland's new multi-purpose marine research vessel RV Tom Crean, was delivered in July 2022 and will be used by the Marine Institute and other State agencies and universities to undertake fisheries research, oceanographic and environmental research, seabed mapping surveys; as well as maintaining and deploying weather buoys, observational infrastructure and Remotely Operated Vehicles.

The RV Tom Crean will also enable the Marine Institute to continue to lead and support high-quality scientific surveys that contribute to Ireland's position as a leader in marine science. The research vessel is a modern, multipurpose, silent vessel (designed to meet the stringent criteria of the ICES 209 noise standard for fisheries research), capable of operating in the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The Tom Crean is able to go to sea for at least 21 days at a time and is designed to operate in harsh sea conditions.

RV Tom Crean Specification Overview

  • Length Overall: 52.8 m
  • Beam 14m
  • Draft 5.2M 


  • Main Propulsion Motor 2000 kw
  • Bow Thruster 780 kw
  • Tunnel thruster 400 kw


  • Endurance  21 Days
  • Range of 8,000 nautical miles
  • DP1 Dynamic Positioning
  • Capacity for 3 x 20ft Containers

Irish Marine Research activities

The new state-of-the-art multi-purpose marine research vessel will carry out a wide range of marine research activities, including vital fisheries, climate change-related research, seabed mapping and oceanography.

The new 52.8-metre modern research vessel, which will replace the 31-metre RV Celtic Voyager, has been commissioned with funding provided by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine approved by the Government of Ireland.

According to Aodhán FitzGerald, Research Vessel Manager of the MI, the RV Tom Crean will feature an articulated boom crane aft (6t@ 10m, 3T@ 15m), located on the aft-gantry. This will be largely used for loading science equipment and net and equipment handling offshore.

Mounted at the stern is a 10T A-frame aft which can articulate through 170 degrees which are for deploying and recovering large science equipment such as a remotely operated vehicle (ROV’s), towed sleds and for fishing operations.

In addition the fitting of an 8 Ton starboard side T Frame for deploying grabs and corers to 4000m which is the same depth applicable to when the vessel is heaving but is compensated by a CTD system consisting of a winch and frame during such operations.

The vessel will have the regulation MOB boat on a dedicated davit and the facility to carry a 6.5m Rigid Inflatable tender on the port side.

Also at the aft deck is where the 'Holland 1' Work class ROV and the University of Limericks 'Etain' sub-Atlantic ROV will be positioned. In addition up to 3 x 20’ (TEU) containers can be carried.

The newbuild has been engineered to endure increasing harsher conditions and the punishing weather systems encountered in the North-East Atlantic where deployments of RV Tom Crean on surveys spent up to 21 days duration.

In addition, RV Tom Crean will be able to operate in an ultra silent-mode, which is crucial to meet the stringent criteria of the ICES 209 noise standard for fisheries research purposes.

The classification of the newbuild as been appointed to Lloyds and below is a list of the main capabilities and duties to be tasked by RV Tom Crean:

  • Oceanographic surveys, incl. CTD water sampling
  • Fishery research operations
  • Acoustic research operations
  • Environmental research and sampling operation incl. coring
  • ROV and AUV/ASV Surveys
  • Buoy/Mooring operations