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€6.5m Investments in 17 Aquaculture & Seafood Processing Companies

11th May 2019
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed TD pictured with managing director John Nolan on a visit to the Castletownbere Fishermens Co-Operative Society Ltd Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed TD pictured with managing director John Nolan on a visit to the Castletownbere Fishermens Co-Operative Society Ltd Credit: Maxwells

Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D. today announced the award of €2,369,801 in grants to 17 seafood enterprises in 9 different counties under his Department’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Operational Programme for the seafood sector. The grant awards will support total investment in these companies of €6,472,909 in the aquaculture and seafood processing sectors.

Minister Creed said, “I am delighted to say that, despite uncertainties created by Brexit over the past 2 years, there is still strong confidence in our seafood sector about its future growth prospects. The 17 seafood enterprises that are investing €6.5 million this year with assistance from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund supported Programme are evidence of that strong confidence in the sector and the Government is supporting that confidence. These companies are seizing the market opportunities that are there in abundance for quality Irish seafood products. This is particularly true for companies like Keohane Seafoods from Cork, which is undertaking a major €3 million investment to double its salmon production capacity at its plant in Bantry.”

Creed added, “My Department is assisting ambitious seafood enterprises with many exciting growth projects through generous EMFF financial supports, available through BIM for seafood enterprises to grow their output, add value to their products and develop and diversify their markets worldwide. In this announcement, Seafood companies in Cork, Kerry, Clare, Galway, Mayo, Donegal, Louth and Monaghan are being supported to drive forward the development of their companies with innovation and technological development, thereby creating further value-added from our high-quality primary seafood products”.

The grants are co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union and are subject to terms and conditions.

Grant approvals - Sustainable Aquaculture Scheme

Beneficiary

Location

Project

Total Investment €

EMFF Grant €

Bantry Mussels Harbour Limited

Bantry Cork

Upgrade of boat’s engine room with twin keel cooled engines and a 3 phase generator.

162,068

64,827

Curraun Fisheries Limited

Mulranny Mayo

Modernisation of salmon farm management systems.

187,808

75,123

Ocean Farm Limited

Killybegs Donegal

Upgrade of salmon farm technology.

1,175,202

470,081

Top Oysters Limited

Cromane Kerry

Purchase of a flat bottom boat and oyster production equipment

93,532

37,413

Michael Lydon

Galway

Upgrade to continuous longline system

45,099

18,039

Atlantic Greenway Oysters Ltd

Westport Mayo

Capacity increase of oyster farm

40,553

16,221

Caragh Clams Limited

Cromane Kerry

Fourth phase development of oyster farm

24,428

9,771

Cromane Seafoods Limited

Cromane Kerry

Purchase of a flat bottom boat and oyster trestles

88,752

35,500.88

Hugh O'Malley

Achill Island Mayo

Capacity increase in oyster production & new equipment purchase

81,021

32,408

TOTAL

 

 

1,898,463

759,383

   Grant approvals – Knowledge Gateway Scheme

Beneficiary

Location

Project

Total

Investment €

EMFF Grant €

Institute of Technology Tralee

Tralee Kerry

Development of an Oyster Farm Management System & Data Warehousing Solution

318,001

318,001

  

Grant approvals - Seafood Processing Capital Investment Scheme

Beneficiary

Location

Project

Total

Investment €

EMFF Grant €

Seafood Processors Ltd

Omeath

Co Louth

Upgrade of pre-pack fish line

16,344

4,903

Keohane Seafoods Unlimited

Bantry

Co Cork

Machinery & System Processing for Smoking Plant and Salmon Line

3,000,000

900,000.00

Bio-marine Ingredients Ireland Ltd

Castleblayney

Co Monaghan

Installation of Odour Abatement System to reduce the impact on the environment and to lead to new and improved products

529,975

79,496

Castletownbere Fishermens Co-operative Society Ltd

Castletownbere Co Cork

Develop an oven ready Megrim product for the Spanish Market

236,118

70,835

TOTAL

 

 

3,782,437

1,055,234

 

Grant approvals - Seafood Innovation & Business Planning Scheme

Beneficiary

County

Project

Total Investment €

EMFF Grant €

Breizon Teo

Rossaveel

Co Galway

R & D Project to Pack Irish Prawns for French Market

10,009

5,004

Bio-marine Ingredients Ireland Ltd

Castleblayney

Co Monaghan

Comparison of Proteins in terms of functionalities

13,916

6,958

Keohane Seafoods Unlimited

Bantry

Co Cork

Advisory Services to enhance management systems

39,600

19,800

TOTAL

 

 

63,525

31,762

 

Grant approvals – Seafood Scaling & New Market Development Scheme

Beneficiary

Location

Project

Total Investment €

EMFF Grant €

Jade Ireland Seafood Ltd

Sofrimar Kilmore Quay Co Wexford

McBride Fishing Downings Co Donegal

Shellfish Ireland Castletownbere Co Cork

Development of China, Hong Kong & Taiwan Markets

209,700.00

104,850.00

Connemara Producers Group

Connemara Seafoods Frozen Ltd Westport Co Mayo

Oilean Mara Teo. Lettermore Co Galway

Market development in Asia

201,143.00

100,571.00

TOTAL

 

 

410,843.00

205,421.00

Published in Aquaculture, Fishing
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Irish Fishing industry 

The Irish Commercial Fishing Industry employs around 11,000 people in fishing, processing and ancillary services such as sales and marketing. The industry is worth about €1.22 billion annually to the Irish economy. Irish fisheries products are exported all over the world as far as Africa, Japan and China.

FAQs

Over 16,000 people are employed directly or indirectly around the coast, working on over 2,000 registered fishing vessels, in over 160 seafood processing businesses and in 278 aquaculture production units, according to the State's sea fisheries development body Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

All activities that are concerned with growing, catching, processing or transporting fish are part of the commercial fishing industry, the development of which is overseen by BIM. Recreational fishing, as in angling at sea or inland, is the responsibility of Inland Fisheries Ireland.

The Irish fishing industry is valued at 1.22 billion euro in gross domestic product (GDP), according to 2019 figures issued by BIM. Only 179 of Ireland's 2,000 vessels are over 18 metres in length. Where does Irish commercially caught fish come from? Irish fish and shellfish is caught or cultivated within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ), but Irish fishing grounds are part of the common EU "blue" pond. Commercial fishing is regulated under the terms of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), initiated in 1983 and with ten-yearly reviews.

The total value of seafood landed into Irish ports was 424 million euro in 2019, according to BIM. High value landings identified in 2019 were haddock, hake, monkfish and megrim. Irish vessels also land into foreign ports, while non-Irish vessels land into Irish ports, principally Castletownbere, Co Cork, and Killybegs, Co Donegal.

There are a number of different methods for catching fish, with technological advances meaning skippers have detailed real time information at their disposal. Fisheries are classified as inshore, midwater, pelagic or deep water. Inshore targets species close to shore and in depths of up to 200 metres, and may include trawling and gillnetting and long-lining. Trawling is regarded as "active", while "passive" or less environmentally harmful fishing methods include use of gill nets, long lines, traps and pots. Pelagic fisheries focus on species which swim close to the surface and up to depths of 200 metres, including migratory mackerel, and tuna, and methods for catching include pair trawling, purse seining, trolling and longlining. Midwater fisheries target species at depths of around 200 metres, using trawling, longlining and jigging. Deepwater fisheries mainly use trawling for species which are found at depths of over 600 metres.

There are several segments for different catching methods in the registered Irish fleet – the largest segment being polyvalent or multi-purpose vessels using several types of gear which may be active and passive. The polyvalent segment ranges from small inshore vessels engaged in netting and potting to medium and larger vessels targeting whitefish, pelagic (herring, mackerel, horse mackerel and blue whiting) species and bivalve molluscs. The refrigerated seawater (RSW) pelagic segment is engaged mainly in fishing for herring, mackerel, horse mackerel and blue whiting only. The beam trawling segment focuses on flatfish such as sole and plaice. The aquaculture segment is exclusively for managing, developing and servicing fish farming areas and can collect spat from wild mussel stocks.

The top 20 species landed by value in 2019 were mackerel (78 million euro); Dublin Bay prawn (59 million euro); horse mackerel (17 million euro); monkfish (17 million euro); brown crab (16 million euro); hake (11 million euro); blue whiting (10 million euro); megrim (10 million euro); haddock (9 million euro); tuna (7 million euro); scallop (6 million euro); whelk (5 million euro); whiting (4 million euro); sprat (3 million euro); herring (3 million euro); lobster (2 million euro); turbot (2 million euro); cod (2 million euro); boarfish (2 million euro).

Ireland has approximately 220 million acres of marine territory, rich in marine biodiversity. A marine biodiversity scheme under Ireland's operational programme, which is co-funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and the Government, aims to reduce the impact of fisheries and aquaculture on the marine environment, including avoidance and reduction of unwanted catch.

EU fisheries ministers hold an annual pre-Christmas council in Brussels to decide on total allowable catches and quotas for the following year. This is based on advice from scientific bodies such as the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. In Ireland's case, the State's Marine Institute publishes an annual "stock book" which provides the most up to date stock status and scientific advice on over 60 fish stocks exploited by the Irish fleet. Total allowable catches are supplemented by various technical measures to control effort, such as the size of net mesh for various species.

The west Cork harbour of Castletownbere is Ireland's biggest whitefish port. Killybegs, Co Donegal is the most important port for pelagic (herring, mackerel, blue whiting) landings. Fish are also landed into Dingle, Co Kerry, Rossaveal, Co Galway, Howth, Co Dublin and Dunmore East, Co Waterford, Union Hall, Co Cork, Greencastle, Co Donegal, and Clogherhead, Co Louth. The busiest Northern Irish ports are Portavogie, Ardglass and Kilkeel, Co Down.

Yes, EU quotas are allocated to other fleets within the Irish EEZ, and Ireland has long been a transhipment point for fish caught by the Spanish whitefish fleet in particular. Dingle, Co Kerry has seen an increase in foreign landings, as has Castletownbere. The west Cork port recorded foreign landings of 36 million euro or 48 per cent in 2019, and has long been nicknamed the "peseta" port, due to the presence of Spanish-owned transhipment plant, Eiranova, on Dinish island.

Most fish and shellfish caught or cultivated in Irish waters is for the export market, and this was hit hard from the early stages of this year's Covid-19 pandemic. The EU, Asia and Britain are the main export markets, while the middle Eastern market is also developing and the African market has seen a fall in value and volume, according to figures for 2019 issued by BIM.

Fish was once a penitential food, eaten for religious reasons every Friday. BIM has worked hard over several decades to develop its appeal. Ireland is not like Spain – our land is too good to transform us into a nation of fish eaters, but the obvious health benefits are seeing a growth in demand. Seafood retail sales rose by one per cent in 2019 to 300 million euro. Salmon and cod remain the most popular species, while BIM reports an increase in sales of haddock, trout and the pangasius or freshwater catfish which is cultivated primarily in Vietnam and Cambodia and imported by supermarkets here.

The EU's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), initiated in 1983, pooled marine resources – with Ireland having some of the richest grounds and one of the largest sea areas at the time, but only receiving four per cent of allocated catch by a quota system. A system known as the "Hague Preferences" did recognise the need to safeguard the particular needs of regions where local populations are especially dependent on fisheries and related activities. The State's Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, based in Clonakilty, Co Cork, works with the Naval Service on administering the EU CFP. The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine and Department of Transport regulate licensing and training requirements, while the Marine Survey Office is responsible for the implementation of all national and international legislation in relation to safety of shipping and the prevention of pollution.

Yes, a range of certificates of competency are required for skippers and crew. Training is the remit of BIM, which runs two national fisheries colleges at Greencastle, Co Donegal and Castletownbere, Co Cork. There have been calls for the colleges to be incorporated into the third-level structure of education, with qualifications recognised as such.

Safety is always an issue, in spite of technological improvements, as fishing is a hazardous occupation and climate change is having its impact on the severity of storms at sea. Fishing skippers and crews are required to hold a number of certificates of competency, including safety and navigation, and wearing of personal flotation devices is a legal requirement. Accidents come under the remit of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board, and the Health and Safety Authority. The MCIB does not find fault or blame, but will make recommendations to the Minister for Transport to avoid a recurrence of incidents.

Fish are part of a marine ecosystem and an integral part of the marine food web. Changing climate is having a negative impact on the health of the oceans, and there have been more frequent reports of warmer water species being caught further and further north in Irish waters.

Brexit, Covid 19, EU policies and safety – Britain is a key market for Irish seafood, and 38 per cent of the Irish catch is taken from the waters around its coast. Ireland's top two species – mackerel and prawns - are 60 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively, dependent on British waters. Also, there are serious fears within the Irish industry about the impact of EU vessels, should they be expelled from British waters, opting to focus even more efforts on Ireland's rich marine resource. Covid-19 has forced closure of international seafood markets, with high value fish sold to restaurants taking a large hit. A temporary tie-up support scheme for whitefish vessels introduced for the summer of 2020 was condemned by industry organisations as "designed to fail".

Sources: Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Marine Institute, Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, Department of Transport © Afloat 2020

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