The UN estimates that the world will need an extra 42 million tonnes of seafood every year from 2030. The Minister said "my Department, the public servants working in this new facility and I are committed to making sure that every effort is made to position Ireland to take full advantage of the enormous opportunities we see for expanding the Seafood Sector in Ireland". The Minister added that he "is focussed on firstly moving away from selling 85% of our seafood production in commodity form and instead developing new high value processed seafood products in Ireland. Secondly, I want to attract a higher percentage of the near one million tonnes of seafood caught around Ireland to be landed into Ireland and serviced from Ireland. Thirdly, I am focussed on significantly expanding and developing sustainable Aquaculture in Ireland. I want this expansion to be in traditional fin fish and shellfish farming but also I am taking new initiatives to drive on new large scale deep water aquaculture which I see as a game changer in terms of Jobs and economic activity for our aquaculture industry and coastal communities".
This National Seafood Centre is being opened at a time of great challenge for Ireland but great opportunity for the seafood sector as a whole. Minister Coveney stated that "the Seafood Sector is very important to Ireland and holds a key to economic recovery and employment in many coastal areas and coastal communities from Greencastle in Donegal right around to Carlingford in Louth. Contrary to some people's perceptions, this is an industry for the future and in my view we have only begun to tap into the potential of the Seafood Sector in Ireland. Irish Seafood exports increased in value, in 2010 relative to 2009, by 14 % to €378m. In the first seven months of this year they are up by a further 10% relative to the first seven months of 2010".
This National Seafood Centre is a bespoke design by the Office of Public Works (OPW) to meet the specific needs of these organisations and the functions and services being delivered from the building. The idea of co-locating all of the State seafood industry related services in one building is designed to improve co-ordination, and maximise the sharing of expertise in order to enhance development of the Seafood Industry in Ireland. The Centre incorporates the State's first dedicated facility for the development of new high value seafood products and presentations and this facility has had 330 large medium and small Seafood Processing companies through its doors since opening and has been associated with the development of new seafood products accounting for sales of €10m to date and growing. At present there are 140 people directly employed in the Centre many of whom have relocated from Dublin and other parts of Ireland to the area thus adding to the economic viability of the Clonakilty area.
The Minister added "the new National Seafood Centre is testament to the Government's commitment to developing the Seafood Industry in Ireland and the work done at this Centre will be central to realising the potential of our Seafood sector". Minister Coveney concluded by congratulating all involved in bringing this Centre into being before unveiling the naming stone for the new National Seafood Centre and officially opening the building.