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Young Chefs Announced for BIM’s Taste the Atlantic Ambassador Programme

15th July 2021
Five up and coming young chefs successfully appointed to the Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) Taste the Atlantic Ambassador Programme, an exciting initiative created by BIM in partnership with Chef Network to drive awareness of the provenance of Irish seafood among young and aspiring chefs. Pictured l-r: Lucas Serpa Maciel Lisboa, Junior Chef de Partie, Bunnyconnellan Coastal Restaurant, Myrtleville, Co. Cork, Jake Kennedy, Chef de Partie (Fish Section), Glovers Alley, Dublin, Sarah Jane Browne, Chef/Manager, Time & Tide Café, Annagry, Co. Donegal, Andrew Zeppa, Chef de Partie, The Yacht Pub & Upper Deck Restaurant, Co. Dublin and Kevin King, Senior Sous Chef, Connemara Sands Beach Hotel, Co. Galway

Five up and coming young chefs, aged between 21 and 24, have been successfully awarded places on BIM’s Taste the Atlantic Ambassador Programme, an exciting initiative created by Bord Iascaigh Mhara in partnership with Chef Network to drive awareness of the provenance of Irish seafood among young and aspiring chefs. Working with Chef Network, nominations were sought from around the country and five candidates have been selected following a written submission and interview process.

The five Ambassadors will now take part in a three-month programme including mentoring from some of our premium seafood producers along the Taste the Atlantic, A Seafood Journey! trail and workshops with Master fishmonger, Hal Dawson and Michelin-starred chef, JP McMahon.

Taste the Atlantic, A Seafood Journey! was developed by BIM in partnership with Fáilte Ireland and the trail, sweeping from Malin Head, Co. Donegal to Kinsale, Co. Cork, showcases the incredible range of seafood producers and visitor attractions along the Wild Atlantic Way to visitors.

Kicking off the Ambassadors programme is a producer visit to Kelly Oysters in South Galway, who will introduce them to a third-generation shellfish business that exports around the Globe. That afternoon they will participate in a culinary masterclass on Irish seafood with Chef JP McMahon. The group will then visit Killary Harbour in Co. Galway and will learn about mussel farming and Seafood Tourism directly from Killary Fjord Shellfish, this will be followed by a trip to DK Connemara Oysters where the Ambassadors will learn about oyster farming and the storied history of oyster production in Ballinakill bay.

Speaking after the young chefs were announced, Mairtín Walsh, BIM said, “As a member of the interview panel I was struck by the energy and knowledge all of the nominees. We genuinely had a tough job selecting only five chefs, but we can say with confidence they will be vibrant and vociferous ambassadors for premium Irish seafood into the future. We wish them the very best of luck on their seafood journey!”

Executive Chef at Harvey’s Point, Donegal and Chef Network Advisory Council member Chris McMenamin, who also took part in the selection interviews, commented: “This programme is a fantastic chance to show young chefs the wealth of seafood out there on the Wild Atlantic Way; to get to know the producers, understand how it is produced, and get excited about working with it. We would like to see more local seafood featured on menus and these chefs can help champion that and inspire others. At the same time, the programme will greatly expand their knowledge and skills and contribute to their professional development. It’s been really refreshing to meet the candidates and we are genuinely excited to work with the five selected ambassadors over the coming months”.

The young chefs hail from all over the country, Sarah Jane Browne, originally from Kerry, is now Chef/ Manager of Time & Tide in Annagry, Co. Donegal. Jake Kennedy is from Co. Wicklow and is Chef de Partie (Fish Section), Glovers Alley, Dublin. Kevin King is Senior Sous Chef, Connemara Sands Beach Hotel and Spa, Ballyconneely, Co. Galway and is from Clifden. Hailing from Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, Lucas Serpa Maciel Lisboa is Junior Chef de Partie, Bunnyconnellan Coastal Restaurant, Myrtleville, Co. Cork and Andrew Zeppa is Commis Chef at The Yacht Pub & Upper Deck Restaurant, Clontarf, Co. Dublin.

The mentoring programme is underway and is being supported by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund

Meet the Young Chefs!

Sarah Jane Browne, Chef/Manager, Time & Tide Café. (Annagry, Co. Donegal)

Sarah is originally from Kerry but is now Chef/Manager at Time & Tide Café in Annagry, Co. Donegal. Sarah has studied and honed her culinary skills in CIT and LYIT and has extensive experience working in tourism including at the world-famous Molls Gap in Kerry. Sarah is from a dairy farming background is a passionate believer that sustainability in food production is critical and that chefs and producers are key stakeholders in the future of sustainable food production. Sarah wants to learn more about sustainable seafood production and bring learnings back to her work in Co. Donegal.

Jake Kennedy, Chef de Partie (Fish Section), Glovers Alley (Dublin)

Jake is from Wicklow and is very keen on all things fish and marine related. Jake has been developing his fish skills in Glovers Alley. Jake is also a keen sport fisherman, taking every opportunity to get involved in fishing whether in Ireland or the Canaries or Singapore. Jake is a graduate of DIT and cites Nathan Outlaw and Josh Niland as his inspirations. Jake will be very much at home on the shore and on boats with Taste the Atlantic producers.

Kevin King, Senior Sous Chef, Connemara Sands Beach Hotel and Spa. (Ballyconneely, Co. Galway)

Kevin is from Clifden, Co. Galway and grew up around fishing where he has fished for lobster and crab for years. He is extremely passionate about sustainability and wild food, where he forages daily to further champion local, organic produce within the Connemara Sands menu. Kevin has worked and completed stagiaires in high end restaurants and hotels in Connemara, Galway and the UK including The Black Swan at Oldstead and The Oakroom at Adare Manor. Kevin is ambitious and is starting on an MSc in Food Business and Innovation in UCC. Kevin is already familiar with some Taste the Atlantic producers but wants to learn much more.

Lucas Serpa Maciel Lisboa, Junior Chef de Partie, Bunnyconnellan Coastal Restaurant. (Myrtleville, Co. Cork)

Lucas is from Salvador de Bahia in Brazil a city with great seafood cuisine. Lucas developed his interest in food in childhood, sharing meals with his family. ''In my family sharing a meal was the way that we choose to celebrate, so, my relationship with the kitchen has this powerful feeling attached. '' Lucas came to Ireland to challenge himself and to broaden his range of culinary skills and techniques. Lucas wants to bring the diverse flavours and techniques of historic Salvador de Bahia to the Taste the Atlantic producers to create a new and exciting fusion.

Andrew Zeppa, Chef de Partie, The Yacht Pub & Upper Deck Restaurant, (Clontarf, Co. Dublin)

Andrew is from Dublin and has been working at the Yacht Pub and Upper Deck Restaurant in Clontarf for several years. A high-quality seafood offering at the Upper Deck Restaurant has helped Andrew develop a strong interest in seafood and the culinary skills required to bring out the best in the product. Andrew wants to get out and about on the water with Taste the Atlantic producers and bring a bit of the west coast back to Clontarf, Andrew is keen to draw on his Italian heritage to create interesting new dishes.

Published in Fishing, Aquaculture
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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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