#Fishing - Ireland’s fishing sector experienced a “challenging” 2016 on a number of fronts, as outlined in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s latest annual review and outlook for the coming year.
Ongoing trade issues in Russia and West Africa have “significantly impacted demand” for pelagic fish caught by the Irish fleet which also faces increased competition from the Faroe Islands and Iceland, particularly for mackerel.
Decreased in the boarfish and mackerel quota have been cited as the main reason’s for the decline in Ireland’s pelagic exports, while the increased cost of processing the likes of herring and mackerel — not to mention loss of returns for those selling to the UK as sterling falls — is having a knock-on effect on competitiveness.
There’s a better story in the whitefish sector, where exports increase by over 10% in value terms last year, driven by an increase in volume.
Shellfish, too, is a growth market with a 12% rise in average unit prices, and trade to Italy, Spain and Japan rising behind Ireland’s main export destination France. China is another important market, with strong growth shown despite a bar on live crab imports for most of 2016.
Export performance in 2017 “will continue to depend on product supply”, the report states, noting that quota receptions for pelagic fish will make market development work in that sector “difficult” in the remaining months of 2017.
The industry also faces the uncertainty of political and economic factors such as Brexit, with over a third of landings across all sectors taken from within UK waters.
“While some benefits may accrue in terms of increasing market share in EU Member States, overall these will be more than offset by three main threats: loss of access, substantial loss of quota share and displacement into our zone, as well as a high level of uncertainty in the short term.”
The report adds that Ireland “needs to ensure that Irish and EU fisheries concerns are high on the EU agenda and that fisheries are not isolated in the overall negotiations on a new EU/UK relationship.”