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An Irish aquatech “start-up” is developing technology to detect sea lice in farmed salmon pens.

Konree Innovation aims to eliminate the issue of sea lice in salmon and fish farming.

The company founded by Dr Margaret Rae participated in Bord Iascaigh Mhara’s (BIM) innovation studio, and was backed by Enterprise Ireland’s pre-seed start fund in 2023.

Rae said the company is pitching for a €1 million investment round with the Halo Business Angel network and venture capital investment funds.

It also hopes to receive support from the Enterprise Ireland high potential start -up fund.

Sea lice are naturally occurring small parasites that cling on to the host fish and feed from its tissue.

Rae estimates that this costs the global salmon production industry between €3 billion and €4 billion annually.

“The solution we are developing to control sea lice is a drop-in solution, designed from the start to be a sustainable non-polluting technology,”she says.

“The salmon farmer does not have to invest in any special infrastructure to support it,” she says.

Konree Innovation is based at the Innovation Hub at the Atlantic Technological University in Galway.

It has employed two new staff members - bringing the number of staff to four – as it develops the second phase prototype.

Rae has a background in chemistry, biochemistry and marine science, and founded Konree Innovation in 2021.

Cofounder and chief technical officer Michael Flynn was previously involved in founding a “world leading” sub-sea imaging and measurement company, BIM says.

Rae is planning small scale field trial work in Ireland at a salmon producer site and at the Marine Institute’s research infrastructure in the west of Ireland and has plans to runs trials with the technology at a private research and development facility in Norway.

Potential markets for the technology are countries with a big salmon producing industry including Norway, Chile, Scotland, Canada, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, New Zealand, Australia and Ireland, BIM says.

BIM says that participation in its innovation studio in 2020, a partnership with aquaculture accelerator Hatch Blue, was “a turning point” for Rae.

“The seventh year of the programme, which is open to both Irish and EU projects involved in the aquaculture technology arena, takes place from September 30th to October 10th at the River Lee hotel, Cork city,”BIM says.

Applications are open until July 19th 2024 and more information is here

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Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue TD has announced the opening of a new scheme to support new entrants into the Irish fishing industry.

The Young Fisher Scheme is co-funded by the Government and the European Union under the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund 2021-2027 (EMFAF).

Where the other recent schemes announced by the minister — which opened on 25 June and 1 July respectively — provide supports to those who already own and operate fishing vessels, this scheme is designed to support the purchase of a first fishing vessel.

It is targeted at people who are under 40 years of age and who have demonstrated an interest in working in the industry, and have gained the relevant skills and experience required, whether from working in the industry for at least five years or undertaking relevant vocational training.

The Young Fisher Scheme also supports the purchase of partial ownership of a fishing vessel. Grants of up to 40 per cent of the cost of purchasing a vessel are available under this scheme, with some restrictions on the age and size of the vessels concerned.

Announcing the opening of the scheme on Monday (8 July), Minister McConalogue said: “This scheme will give those who wish to enter the fishing industry valuable support to assist them in doing so. Without such a scheme, the cost of purchasing a vessel would be prohibitive for many who have the skills, knowledge and experience to build a successful long-term career in the fishing industry.

“This scheme will help to ensure the fishing industry remains an attractive choice for young people to work in. This scheme, combined with other measures under the EMFAF programme, in particular the Seafood Training Scheme, will help generational renewal in the fishing industry and support its sustainability for the years to come. I am keen to see more young people getting involved in the fishing industry.”

This scheme is being administered by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Ireland’s seafood development agency, and the scheme is now open for applications. All details are available on bim.ie.

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Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue has announced the opening of two new schemes under the €258-million Seafood Development Programme, co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the EU under the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund 2021-2027 (EMFAF).

These new schemes are in addition to the four schemes to support the Irish fishing fleet and seafood processors which opened on 25 June.

The Aquaculture Capital Investment Scheme will provide grant aid to support capital investment in the aquaculture sector. These investments will enable the sustainable growth of aquaculture operators; will encourage the entry into the sector of new aquaculture operators; and will support the evolution of smaller operators, allowing them to scale-up, and boost their competitiveness. This scheme supports the objectives set out in the National Strategic Plan for Sustainable Aquaculture Development (NSPSA).

The Seafood Training Scheme will provide assistance to those working in the sector who wish to develop their skills and knowledge through attendance at recognised training and education courses. It assists with costs associated with the training, such as exam fees.

Announcing the opening of these schemes, Minister McConalogue said: “The aquaculture sector in Ireland is a significant contributor to national seafood production and food security. The sector has grown significantly in recent decades, and now produces approximately 40,000 tonnes of high value shellfish and finfish, employing around 1,800 people in coastal communities.

“The Aquaculture Capital Investment Scheme will allow operators to build on the investment supports provided to them under the Brexit Sustainable Aquaculture Growth Scheme, funded under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve, and the Sustainable Aquaculture Scheme, funded under the previous cohesion fund, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

“It is a key enabler for the successful implementation of the National Strategic Plan for Sustainable Aquaculture Development, and will support the sector in maintaining a competitive edge, commercial resilience and optimised environmental performance through low impact production methods, technical innovation and diversification.”

The minister continued: “The Seafood Training Scheme will provide the necessary practical assistance to those working in the seafood sector to develop the skills and knowledge they need to support all aspects of their work. Whether that be potentially life-saving safety training; fishing vessel engineering skills or fishmonger skills. It also provides support to those wishing to enter employment in the sector, or to develop new career pathways in the sector.

“Providing these supports helps us to ensure we have a highly skilled, adaptable workforce that have the knowledge and skills they need to meet the requirements of their roles, and to keep pace with new production methods, quality and hygiene standards and diversification within the sector.

“These two new schemes, together with the schemes I announced last week, clearly demonstrate the breadth of supports provided under our EMFAF Seafood Development Programme. They provide the investment needed to support the resilience and sustainability of the seafood sector, both commercial and environmental. They will help to ensure that in the face of challenges such as climate change and ever-changing market conditions, the Irish seafood sector will continue to provide a high quality product and remain competitive in a global market.”

The two new schemes are being administered by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Ireland’s seafood development agency, and the schemes are now open for applications. All details will be available on bim.ie.

Published in Fishing
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Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue has announced the opening of four new schemes to support the Irish fishing fleet and seafood processors.

These schemes, which deliver important elements of the €258 million Seafood Development Programme, opened for applications on Tuesday (25 June).

Three of these new schemes — co-funded by the Government and the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund 2021-2027 (EMFAF) — will provide vital funding support for Irish registered fishing vessels.

The Inshore Fisheries Scheme will provide targeted supports for the small-scale coastal fishing vessels, which are registered fishing vessels under 12 metres in length who do not use towed gear.

Enhanced grant intensity rates of between 80% and 100% will be provided to these vessels to support both on-board and on-shore investment, and for participation in conservation measures. Other registered inshore fishing vessels will continue to have the opportunity to participate in conservation measures under this scheme also.

In that context, a lobster V-Notching Scheme is also being opened, which will continue the good work done under previous V-notching schemes to improve the sustainability of this fishery, which is of significant importance to the inshore fishing fleet in particular.

The Sustainable Fisheries Scheme will provide support to all registered fishing vessels (other than the small-scale coastal fishing vessels) for on-board investment.

Both the Inshore Fisheries Scheme and the Sustainable Fisheries Scheme support investment by fishing vessels in more selective gear that reduces catches of juvenile and/or over quota species, with the ultimate aim of improving the sustainability of fisheries.

The fourth scheme being opened is the Seafood Processing Capital Investment Scheme. This will provide important support for capital investment in the seafood processing sector, which employs approximately 4,000 people in rural coastal communities.

It will continue and build on the supports provided to the sector over the course of 2022 and 2023 under the Brexit Processing Capital Support Scheme, funded under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR), where the seafood processing industry received over €30 million funding for capital investment.

Announcing the opening of these schemes, Minister McConalogue said: “I was pleased to update my Cabinet colleagues this morning and confirm the launch of these schemes under the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund 2021-2027. EMFAF is the primary funding programme for the seafood sector, and the Government has committed €116 million in funding to this programme.

“With co-funding from the EU, the overall value of Ireland’s EMFAF Programme is €258 million. This demonstrates our commitment to the support and development of this sector, which is of significant economic, social and cultural value to our coastal, rural communities.

“Following the launch of the EMFAF programme in February, my department worked closely with Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) to develop schemes for industry, and they will implement these schemes on behalf of my department.

“The Sustainable Fisheries Scheme will support economically, socially and environmentally sustainable fishing activities. The Inshore Fisheries Scheme aims to be a ‘One Stop Shop’ grant aid scheme for all small-scale coastal fishers. While the V Notching Scheme is a valuable conservation measure to support a fishery of significant importance to the inshore fishing fleet.”

The minister continued: “The Seafood Processing Capital Investment Scheme will support seafood processors to engage in transformational change, while also building more environmentally friendly, sustainable, and competitive enterprises, and make better and more sustainable use of Irish landed or imported raw material.

“Both the fishing fleet and seafood processors have experienced significant challenges in recent years. The launch of these schemes will continue to build on supports provided to the seafood sector under the European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and the Brexit Adjustment Reserve to deal with these challenges.”

BIM chief executive Caroline Bocquel added that the fisheries board “is acutely aware of the importance of these new schemes to our fishing fleet and our processing sector. Full details of these schemes, and how to apply, are on our website. Applications for funding can be made using our online grant application system and BIM officers are also available to provide advice and support to those who wish to apply for funding under these schemes.

“As Ireland’s seafood development agency, BIM’s own work programme includes a range of measures, also funded under EMFAF, designed to ensure we have an adaptable, resilient and sustainable seafood sector. Ireland is known for the quality and diversity of its seafood, from our prawns and lobster to our oysters and organic salmon. BIM will continue to work in partnership with the Department and industry to support the continued development of this important sector.”

The minister concluded: “The Seafood Development Programme provides the investment that our seafood sector needs to ensure an environmentally friendly, sustainable and attractive industry to work in. This will serve the EU and wider global markets, and support jobs in this important sector.”

These schemes are being administered by BIM, and the four schemes are now open for applications. Further information is available on bim.ie.

Published in Fishing
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Five young chefs have been selected for the 2024 Taste the Atlantic Young Chef Ambassador programme.

The five ambassadors will embark on a four-month programme to familiarise themselves with Ireland's "premium seafood", and the people who produce it along the west coast.

The immersive Bord Iascaigh Mhara programme, which is run with Chef Network and Fáilte Ireland, is now in its fourth year.

The five are:

Ian Harford (24) from Rush, Co Dublin who is currently Chef de Partie at Michelin-starred Aniar restaurant in Galway, where he has worked since January 2024. Ian is a committed chef who is passionate about promoting fishermen and farmers, whose work he feels is often underappreciated.

Anna O’Leary (22) from Kilmichael in West Cork who is the Baker & Pastry Chef at The Fig & Olive in Clonakilty. She also spends her time on her family’s farm where she grows her own herbs and vegetables and helps with their production of beef, lamb, chicken, eggs and honey.

Liam Britchfield ( 24) from Wicklow Town, who is Chef de Partie at Bastible in Dublin. When Liam is not in the kitchen, the sea, coast, nature and food all play a central role in his life. He spends much of his time shore and kayak fishing and foraging on the east coast, and has travelled and fished in Kerry and Donegal.

Aoife O’Donnell ( 23) from Maghery, Co Donegal who has worked over the past three years at Danny Minnie’s in Annagry and is now their fish chef. Aoife says she wants to work to feature more local seafood on menus and to give visitors and locals alike a real taste of Donegal.

Charlie Ward (20) from Rathkeale, Co Limerick, who is Commis chef at the Mustard Seed in Ballinagarry, Co Limerick. Combining his passion for sports and fitness with his love of all things culinary, Charlie would love to promote the pleasure and nutritional benefit of eating fish more to the young people in Ireland.

The Taste the Atlantic Young Chef Ambassador Programme is co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union, under the European Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund.

Published in BIM
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A popular Connemara seafood aims to grow its business with €63,000 investment supported by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

Kim Young and Reinaldo Seco, the couple who run the Misunderstood Heron seafood truck on the Killary fjord in Leenane, Co Galway, aim to introduce energy and waste efficiencies and purchase new kitchen equipment.

The €63,000 investment is supported by a €31,700 grant under the Brexit Blue Economy Enterprise Development Scheme.

The scheme is administered by BIM, and funded from the EU’s Brexit Adjustment Reserve.

The couple say that a new state-of-the art bio digestor will see 85% of food and packaging waste becoming compost, dramatically reducing waste sent to landfill.

“We also added new kitchen equipment which has allowed us to streamline our cooking process and have a higher food output as we were finding it difficult to keep up with the demand during busy periods,”they say.

“ We are using 100% bio-degradable single-use take away packaging and expect to increase our turnover by 6 % this year,” they state.

“One of the most popular items on the menu are delicious mussels grown in the Killary Fjord, right in front of where we are based,” Kim Young says.

“Our organic smoked salmon is also a big seller and we source from Cornamona Smokehouse and Keem Bay in Achill,” she says.

“Our delicious sourdough bread is from Cornrue Bakery in Westport, and our fisherman is John Joe Faherty in Renvyle. We change our menu every three weeks or so and what we offer depends on the season and what is available locally,” she adds.

“We would not be here today without the support of BIM. When we first established in 2017 they supported us with benches and outdoor seating and advice on setting up a business. And the recent Brexit grant has made us more energy efficient and sustainable,”she says.

Published in BIM
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A Co Clare couple have invested €850,000 to transform a derelict site in the centre of Kilkee into a seafood destination.

Robert and Elaine Hayes recently opened Naughton’s Yard, a development which includes apartments, a café, an art gallery and a vintage food truck serving the best of locally caught seafood.

The €850,000 project was completed with the support of a €41,000 grant under the Brexit Blue Economy Enterprise Development Scheme. The scheme administered by BIM is funded by the EU under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve.

The new seafood destination, which is just 500 metres from the beach, has been developed on what was the site of stables used for carriage horses that serviced the old West Clare Railway in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. The derelict land had been an eyesore in the town.

A vintage 1968 American Airstream trailer has been converted it into a sleek, outdoor food truck offering seafood sourced from local suppliers and fishermen including lobster, prawns, hake and lemon sole.

The couple have been running the popular Naughtons Seafood restaurant in Kilkee for the last 25 years.

“We had our eye on this derelict site for some time and saw huge potential for it. The location is perfect, and is close to the seafront. We wanted the development to promote the fishing heritage that Kilkee and West Clare are known for, and to incorporate this with promoting local art,”Robert Hayes says.

“The site was in poor repair and an eyesore, and we were delighted to transform it into a popular attraction for tourists,”he says.

Published in BIM
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An east Cork seafood company is to invest over a million euro in an upgrade with grant-aid from a Brexit-related capital support scheme.

BalllyCotton Seafood is upgrading its production facilities and improving automation and efficiencies at its headquarters in Garryvoe.

The investment is supported by a €300,000 grant under the Brexit Processing Capital Support Scheme, implemented by Bord Iascaigh Mhara and drawn from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve.

Ballycotton Seafood employs more than 40 people at its processing activities, smokehouse, food preparation kitchen and three shops in Garryvoe, Midleton and the English Market in Cork City.

“Having improved processing capabilities and production capacity will help us move up the value chain and add value to fish through filleting, cooking, freezing and smoking,”Adrian Walsh, who runs the business with his wife, Diane, says.

Two chefs work daily in the large commercial kitchen in Garryvoe preparing a range of 25 ready-to-eat meals including chowders, seafood pies, sauces, crab, garlic mussels and breaded seafood.

“We had a healthy export business to the UK which was heavily impacted following Brexit. That was a very tough time and we had to look at different markets. We ramped up sales in Ireland and we are also doing exports to France,”Walsh said.

Adrian Walsh began working as a butcher, but 25 years ago he switched careers and joined the seafood business started by his parents Richard and Mary Walsh in 1985.

Adrian and Diane’s son Kieran is now working in the business and will eventually take it over. “We are delighted that it will be handed down to the third generation,” Walsh says.

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Aquatech businesses are urged to apply for a new mentoring programme which Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) describes as “groundbreaking”.

The sector has just attracted a €15 million investment from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), according to BIM.

Minister for Marine, Charlie McConalogue says that BIM is partnering again this year with aquaculture accelerator, Hatch Blue, for its popular “innovation studio”.

This is a free, intensive two-week programme aimed at supporting young aquatech companies in all aspects of development, including technology and investment.

BIM’s Aquatech Development Programme is supported by the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (2021 – 2027) with an investment of €380,000 in 2024.

Now in its seventh year, some 50 projects and companies have completed the “innovation studio”, and have attracted a total investment of around €15 million, creating more than 200 hi-tech jobs.

“Ireland is leading the way in the development of the aquatech sector with some 60 Irish aquatech companies turning over €200 million in 2022 with the potential for significant growth and job creation,” McConalogue said.

He welcomed the €15 million investment by ISIF in the “Blue Revolution Fund” which invests in early stage aquatech companies.

“This is a huge vote of confidence in the sector, which has enormous potential. Aquatech companies can advance the health of the oceans while providing sustainable seafood regenerative ecosystem services and community benefits,” he said.

Aquatech is described as any technology or innovation driving sustainable seafood farming, and it can be applied progressively to the breeding, raising, and harvesting of fish, shellfish, and aquatic plants.

The BIM “innovation studio” offers opportunities for companies in areas such as pharmaceuticals, marine engineering, genetics, feed additives and artificial intelligence.

Applications are open until July 19th, 2024, and the BIM “innovation studio” takes place from October 1st to 10th at the Lee Hotel, Cork City.

Several companies will then be selected to pitch at the BIM Aquatech Conference on October 11th, where the winner of the BIM Aquatech Business of the Year 2024 will also be announced.

Eight to ten successful applicants will be matched with experienced mentors to further develop their business strategy, product or service. They will also have access to a global network of aquaculture technical experts, BIM says.

For further information and to apply click here

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The Burren Smokehouse in Co Clare is expanding with a €171,000 investment in new equipment and energy efficiencies, which includes a Brexit-related grant.

The artisan food outlet has been approved for grant- aid of €76,900 under the Brexit Processing Capital Support Scheme, drawn from the EU’s Brexit Adjustment Reserve.

The scheme is administered by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

Swedish-born Birgitta Curtin and her Irish husband Peter initiated the Burren Smokehouse in 1989, and its products including award-winning cold and hot smoked organic and wild salmon.

“The grant aid has allowed us to invest, be more sustainable, and to take opportunities to improve standards and reduce costs, which is critical,” Birgitta Curtin says.

The artisan food outlet has been approved for grant- aid of €76,900 under the Brexit Processing Capital Support SchemeThe artisan food outlet has been approved for grant- aid of €76,900 under the Brexit Processing Capital Support Scheme

“New digital equipment, including a digital control panel for the fish smoker, has made processing easier for staff to manage, allowing for scannable stocktaking and integration of website orders,” she says.

“The funding from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve meant we were able to take opportunities to future proof our business, and keep efficiencies high, which is essential in an environment where costs are rising,” she says.

The business is certified by Bord Bia Origin Green and Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark Burren Code of Practice.

The Burren Smokehouse employs 18 people, which rises during peak periods.

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