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Marine Minister Launches Draft National Strategic Plan For Sustainable Aquaculture

13th June 2015
Marine Minister Launches Draft National Strategic Plan For Sustainable Aquaculture

#Aquaculture - Marine Minister Simon Coveney yesterday (12 June) launched a public consultation on a draft National Strategic Plan for Sustainable Aquaculture Development, proposing 24 actions and initiatives to boost the sustainable growth of aquaculture

The reformed Common Fisheries Policy requires EU member states to prepare multi-annual national strategic plans to drive forward the sustainable development of aquaculture, and the draft plan launched this week has been prepared in that context.

Commenting on the plan, Minister Coveney said: “Aquaculture is a rapidly growing industry internationally with very rapid expansion opportunities identified over the coming decades to meet the ever growing seafood demand arising from population growth and increased consumption in Asia.

"Aquaculture internationally produced 67 million tonnes of farmed fish in 2012 and it is projected to increase to 85 million tonnes by 2022. That global projection to increase aquaculture production by 18 million tonnes by 2022, puts in context the proposals in the National Strategic Aquaculture Plan to increase Irish aquaculture production by 45,000 tonnes, across all species, by 2023.

"While the targets in the plan are ambitious in the context of the past performance of this industry nationally, they are modest in the context of the global expansion which this industry will experience over the next seven years.”

Minister Coveney added that “our aquaculture industry has long been recognised as an area with potential to grow significant value and employment and to sustainably provide the raw material to enhance our processed seafood exports. Clearly, that has not happened and there are many complex reasons for that.

"At the same time, concerns have been raised about the environmental sustainability of the industry. In this plan, I have sought to identify all of the issues affecting both the growth potential and sustainability of the aquaculture industry and I am proposing a suite of 24 tailored actions to boost sustainable growth, while allaying legitimate areas of concern.

"With these initiatives, I believe we can get our aquaculture sector back on a path of sustainable growth and provide much needed jobs in our coastal communities."

Actions proposed in the draft plan include the introduction of a set of guiding principles for the sustainable development of aquaculture, recommended to the minister by the Marine Institute, together with scale limits and phasing in relation to the development of individual offshore salmon farms, also recommended by the Marine Institute. 

Other initiatives include a review of the regulatory framework for aquaculture licensing and associated administrative procedures, and financial supports to build capacity, foster knowledge, innovation and technology transfer and expert advice and training for aquaculture operators in business planning, disease management and environmental best practice.

Submissions on the draft plan and related environmental report and appropriate assessment are invited by 24 July 2015 to [email protected] Relevant documents are available for download HERE.

Published in Aquaculture, Fishing
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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Irish Aquaculture - Information

Aquaculture is the farming of animals in the water and has been practised for centuries, with the monks farming fish in the middle ages. More recently the technology has progressed and the aquaculture sector is now producing in the region of 50 thousand tonnes annually and provides a valuable food product as well as much needed employment in many rural areas of Ireland.

A typical fish farm involves keeping fish in pens in the water column, caring for them and supplying them with food so they grow to market size. Or for shellfish, containing them in a specialised unit and allowing them to feed on natural plants and materials in the water column until they reach harvestable size. While farming fish has a lower carbon and water footprint to those of land animals, and a very efficient food fed to weight gain ratio compared to beef, pork or chicken, farming does require protein food sources and produces organic waste which is released into the surrounding waters. Finding sustainable food sources, and reducing the environmental impacts are key challenges facing the sector as it continues to grow.

Salmon is the most popular fish bought by Irish families. In Ireland, most of our salmon is farmed, and along with mussels and oysters, are the main farmed species in the country.

Aquaculture in Ireland

  • Fish and shellfish are farmed in 14 Irish coastal counties.
  • Irish SMEs and families grow salmon, oysters, mussels and other seafood
  • The sector is worth €150m at the farm gate – 80% in export earnings.
  • The industry sustains 1,833 direct jobs in remote rural areas – 80% in the west of Ireland
  • Every full-time job in aquaculture creates 2.27 other jobs locally (Teagasc 2015)
  • Ireland’s marine farms occupy 0.0004% of Ireland’s 17,500Km2 inshore area.
  • 83% of people in coastal areas support the development of fish farming
  • Aquaculture is a strong, sustainable and popular strategic asset for development and job creation (Foodwise 2025, National Strategic Plan, Seafood
  • Operational Programme 2020, FAO, European Commission, European Investment Bank, Harvesting Our Ocean Wealth, Silicon Republic, CEDRA)
    Ireland has led the world in organically certified farmed fish for over 30 years
  • Fish farm workers include people who have spent over two decades in the business to school-leavers intent on becoming third-generation farmers on their family sites.

At A Glance - Irish Aquaculture

  • Fish and shellfish are farmed in 14 Irish coastal counties
  • Salmon is the most popular fish bought by Irish families. 
  • In Ireland, most of our salmon is farmed, and along with mussels and oysters, are the main farmed species in the country.
  • The industry sustains 1,833 direct jobs in remote rural areas – 80% in the west of Ireland
  • Every full-time job in aquaculture creates 2.27 other jobs locally (Teagasc 2015)
  • Ireland’s marine farms occupy 0.0004% of Ireland’s 17,500Km2 inshore area.
  • 83% of people in coastal areas support the development of fish farming

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