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A fourth generation Kerry fishing family is expanding its seafood business with a 400,000 euro investment.

The Fish Box restaurant and takeaway, based in Dingle, is using the investment to put a food truck on the road, introduce a fresh fish counter and add solar panels as part of a drive to be more energy efficient.

Since the Flannery family opened The Fish Box in Upper Green Street in the heart of Dingle town in 2018, they have earned multiple food awards and featured in several guides.

Micheál Flannery manages the business and looking after marketing and sales, while his brother, Patrick, operates and supplies fish from the family’s boat, Cú na Mara.

Their mother Deirdre is head chef, while sister Eimear works at front of house.

Micheál and Patrick’s great grandfather started fishing back in the 1920’s, followed by their grandfather, Paddy Flannery and father Michael.

The Fish Box received €200,000 in grant aid towards its investment under the Brexit Blue Economy Enterprise Development Scheme.

The scheme is funded by the European Union under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve.

The Fish Box employs around 35 people and offers both a takeaway and sit-down option outdoors, and indoors for up to 20 people. It hopes to expand to accommodate 100 customers indoors.

The investment will also see the addition of a fresh fish processing and sales area to include walk-in cold and freezer rooms, new signage and a solar panel system which will reduce energy costs.

Part of the investment includes the addition of a customised seafood truck which will spread The Fish Box brand by going on the road from January. It has already been booked for events this year.

The Fish Box kitchen offers a wide range of delicious seafood, including crispy chilli monkfish and jumbo langoustines.

“We don’t really follow trends in the Fish Box. We do our own thing, offering local food,“ said Micheál.

“We really believe that with our own trawler catching fish and supplying to our restaurant, the fresh fish counter and the truck we have a model that will work all over Ireland, and expansion from Kerry is something we will explore next year.”

"We fish from Dingle and land our catch in Dingle which then goes directly to our restaurant in Dingle. There is no travel. I know who catches the fish, who handles it, who fillets it, who cooks it and finally who eats it. We can literally offer a sea to fork experience,” he said.

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Flood risk management, biodiversity, seafood and water quality are among themes of the Government’s national adaptation framework on climate which has been opened for public consultation.

Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan marked the opening of the month-long public consultation on Friday, 19 January on the National Adaptation Framework (NAP).

The current National Adaptation Framework was published in 2018 and outlines a “whole-of-Government and society approach to climate adaptation in Ireland”.

A review in 2022 recommended the drafting of a new National Adaptation Framework.

The framework takes a sectoral approach, which aims to “improve the enabling environment for adaptation through ongoing engagement with the key sectors and local government, along with civil society, the private sector, and the research community”, his department says.

The so-called Sectoral Adaptation Plans (SAPs) are assigned to the line Ministers responsible for priority adaptation policy areas, and include the flood risk management under the remit of the Office of Public Works (OPW).

Six Government Departments are currently leading in the implementation of the nine SAPs covering 12 key sectors under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015-2021.

Other sectors include seafood, agriculture and forestry under the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, transport infrastructure under the Department of Transport, and biodiversity and water quality under the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

The Department of Environment says that climate adaptation is “the process of adjustment to actual or expected climate change and its effects”.

“It is not a one-time emergency response, but a series of proactive measures that are taken over time to build the resilience of our economy and society to the impacts of climate change. Adaptation ultimately seeks to minimise the costs of climate change impacts and maximise any opportunities that may arise,”it says.

The public consultation runs until February 19th and more information is here

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The Irish seafood sector has a low carbon footprint, which generates less than 2% of Ireland’s total carbon emissions, according to a Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) study.

The report says that total Irish fish catch and aquaculture segments represent just 1.76% of Ireland’s total carbon emissions.

The study, discussed at a seminar in Athlone this week hosted by BIM with the Marine Institute, sets out a “greenhouse gas emissions” baseline for the Irish seafood sector, incorporating the Irish fishing vessel fleet and aquaculture.

The baseline, which can be used as a benchmark to measure future emissions, collates seafood carbon data for the first time, BIM says.

It identifies areas to minimise carbon emissions associated with seafood production and finds that farmed mussels, oysters and wild-caught mackerel in particular have very low carbon emissions, BIM says.

“The report stresses the need for a detailed decarbonising plan to ensure that the seafood sector plays its part in Ireland’s ambition to achieve net zero emissions by 2050,”BIM says.

The study notes the diversity of the Irish seafood sector, and how the carbon footprint of different products “varies depending on the species and the methods used to cultivate or catch them”.

“The Irish seafood sector is undergoing a transformation in how we do things, how we fuel our fleets, how we grow our shellfish, and feed our salmon,” BIM economics and strategic services director Dominic Rihan said.

He said the industry is looking at a range of new technologies, alternative fuel sources as well as operational changes to reduce their carbon emissions.

Investment in the future for such initiatives will be provided through the European and Maritime, Aquaculture and Fisheries Fund, under which Ireland has received total funding of €258.4 million, he noted.

“There is also a lot of work done on waste and plastics reduction. All these initiatives contribute to lower greenhouse emissions from the sector,”he said.

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If Government targets on offshore wind are met by 2050, Ireland’s seas will have turbines stretching for at least twice the length of Ireland, according to calculations by a group of seafood organisations.

A submission to the Department of Environment by the group says that it welcomes the “plan-led” approach to future (phase 2) offshore renewable energy (ORE).

However, it says there is “deepening unease” within their sector about lack of consultation and “spatial squeeze”.

The group warns that Ireland cannot afford to repeat “planning mistakes of the past”, as occurred with the Corrib gas project in north Mayo.

Eight seafood organisations, representing catching, fish-farming, processing, and inshore sectors, made the submission to the department as part of public consultation over draft maritime area plans (DMAP) for the Irish south coast.

The draft “DMAP” outlining an area for ORE was published by the new Maritime Area Regulatory Authority (MARA) in mid-July, and involves development of up to 900 megawatts ( MW ) offshore renewable capacity.

The current Government programme is to provide an overall 5 (five) gigawatts (GW) off the Irish coast by 2030.

The seafood group queries how much ORE development is planned in total off the south coast, given references to “further programmes”. It also asks whether ORE will be permitted within the footprint of marine protected areas (MPAs).

The group says it has calculated that the Government’s 2050 target of at least 37 GW of offshore wind will translate into a wind farm (or farms) covering an area of some 12,333 km2.

Assuming that the development is six nautical miles (11.1 km) wide, a single farm of 37GW would stretch, continuously, for some 1,110 km, the submission claims.

This would represent over twice the length of Ireland, which is approximately 500 km in length, it says.

The eight organisations welcome the principle of lower carbon emissions as part of a commitment to tackle climate change, and state that seafood is a “low carbon, healthy, and sustainable part of our food supply”.

However, they say that the current developer-led approach in phase one windfarm projects - which have already been given maritime consents and grid contracts off the east and west coasts - has the potential to result in “bitter planning hearings and mounting local resistance” due to a “poorly structured, often opaque approach”.

It calls for a risk-based assessment of potential impacts of ORE, which should include measuring impact of electromagnetic fields generated by inter-array cables; navigational hazards; insurance factors; and impact of noise on marine life during installation and operation.

The submission says that the seafood industry believes that “it is possible to reduce considerably the impact of offshore renewables on fishing if we opt for better planning, design and through the implementation/build process.

The State should “openly address the cumulative impact on fishing of all aspects of spatial squeeze” and incorporate “appropriate” mitigation measures to minimise impacts on fishing businesses and communities”.

Speaking at the launch of the joint submission, John Lynch, CEO of the Irish South and East Fish Producers Organisation said “Ireland’s seafood industry recognises that an orderly development of offshore wind is critical to the future relationship between the seafood and offshore renewable industries. And that relationship is essential if the state is going to meet it targets for ORE development”.

Sean O’Donoghue, CEO of the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation, also welcomed the move to a state-managed and plan-led approach but added that the true test would be whether the Minister and Department for the Environment, Climate and Communicatons (DECC) accepted the recommendatons made in the seafood industry submission.

The Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications said it “welcomes the submission by the representative organisations of the Irish seafood industry to the recent public consultation on the establishment by Government of the south coast DMAP for offshore renewable energy”.

“It highlights the strong support of Ireland’s fishing industry for the decision by Government that future offshore renewable energy developments in Ireland will take place according to a plan-led regime, through the establishment of DMAPs, including an initial South Coast DMAP,”it said.

“Crucially, the process to establish all DMAPs will provide comprehensive opportunities for public participation to ensure that future offshore renewable energy development takes place with the support of local communities and in consideration for other marine activities, including fishing. The Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications is keenly aware of crucial role of fishing, aquaculture and seafood production in supporting economic activity and employment for many Irish coastal communities,” it said.

“The Department is therefore committed to ensuring that constructive and comprehensive engagement with fishers continues to take place throughout the process to establish all DMAPs, including the South Coast DMAP. Facilitating co-existence and shared marine space between different marine users, including fishers, with offshore renewables is a further key objective of the process to establish DMAPs,” it said.

It said that “beyond 2030, the location and size of all future offshore wind developments will be determined by the establishment of DMAPs, which will take place in cooperation with all key stakeholders, crucially including the fishing and seafood sector”.

“It is important to note that the size of offshore wind developments, including the number of offshore wind turbines, required to meet Ireland’s decarbonisation targets will also be determined by technological advances, which has in recent years led to a substantial increase in the volume of green energy that a single turbine can produce,” the department said.

“This has had a corresponding reduction on the marine space required to generate a given level of green power, and this trend is continuing with offshore wind farms currently under construction,” it said.

Signatories to the seafood group submission on the south coast DMAP include IFA Aquaculture, the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters’ Association, the Irish South and East Fish Producers’ Organisation, the Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation, the Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation, the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation, the National Inshore Fishermen’s Association and the South East Regional Inshore Fisherman's Forum.

Published in Marine Planning
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Atlantis Seafood, one of the most reputed seafood businesses based in Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford has partnered with Killiney-based pet food company, Harley & Marley, to create a new range of pet food made wholly from fish. The new pet food will be sold under the Harley & Marley brand, which will be available in Dunnes Stores, independent shops, pet stores, and veterinarian clinics across Ireland from the end of September.

The new pet food is made from the by-products of fish processing that would otherwise go to waste. With the help of Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Atlantis Seafood has been able to provide mentoring and technical support for the creation of this new pet food. Last year, Atlantis received a grant of €233,394 under the Brexit Processing Capital Support Scheme, implemented by BIM, to modernise its factory and make it more environmentally friendly.

The new pet food is a sustainable and healthy option for pet owners who are looking for all-natural products. Unlike other pet foods made with fish, Harley & Marley offers a 100% natural product with fish as the main single ingredient, possibly with small amounts of oats, parsley, and seaweed.

The pet food is produced through gentle air-drying rather than cooking, which means that it doesn't lose any of its natural goodness. The production of the Harley & Marley pet food range will be outsourced to two companies in Ireland, keeping the operation within the country and totally Irish. All products will be packed in recyclable pouches.

John Kenny, the owner of Atlantis Seafood said, "This is minimal processing at its best. The pet food is junk-free and made up of fish with few added ingredients. There is no wheat, wheat gluten, unnecessary fillers, additives, artificial colours or flavours added."

Atlantis has been in business for 30 years and has built its reputation on delivering quality fresh fish and seafood to top chefs and retailers across Ireland. The company employs around 100 people today. With the launch of this new pet food range, Atlantis will be able to advance its mission to be sustainable by dramatically reducing the 50 tonnes of by-product created from the processing of fish each week, with only half of the fish catch used and processed.

Once the pet food range launches on the Irish market, the export market will be explored. "The pet food market is growing globally, and there is huge potential to export," said John. 

The partnership between Atlantis Seafood and Harley & Marley is a great example of how two companies can work together to create a sustainable and natural product that benefits both the environment and pet owners.

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A West Cork seafood business says it is scaling up salmon processing and reducing its environmental footprint with help from a Brexit support scheme.

Keohane Seafoods in Bantry, Co Cork, is one of 44 projects to share in a €26.8 million investment from the Seafood Processing Capital Support Scheme administered by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

The scheme, which has earmarked up to €45 million in funding to the seafood processing sector, is funded by the EU under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve, designed to minimise the impact of Brexit.

The company’s managing director Colman Keohane said the grant aid is allowing the business to make a €1.2 million investment in new equipment, which is helping it to overcome the challenges posed by Brexit.

“Brexit had a huge impact on our business in several ways, such as the delivery of salmon and transport of finished goods,” he said.

“But by far the biggest impact was the loss of the fresh fish business in Britain, due to logistical delays that reduced the shelf life of our products,” Keohane explained.

“The grant aid we received from the Brexit Seafood Processing Capital Support Scheme has allowed us to invest in innovative processing and packaging technologies, making our business more competitive and environmentally sustainable,” he said.

New machines, including an ingredient mixer, pouch thermoformer packaging machine, salmon portioning machine, and smart grader have “transformed salmon production, helping minimise waste and increase yields”, the company says.

An upgraded enterprise resource planning software is also “giving the business greater control and visibility of its operations”, it says.

“For example, the new pouch thermoformer means we can increase the number of frozen salmon products being processed by around 50 per cent, allowing us to be competitive in the US and German frozen markets,” Keohane continued.

“Our most popular export product in the last 18 months is our infused product range and this innovative technology ensures consistency across that product line.

“The thermoformer unit is also reducing our electricity consumption while the new fillet portioner will help us minimise food waste.”

Keohane Seafoods is a family business run by Michael Keohane and his sons, Colman and Brian.

The family established the business in 2010, and employs 230 people with processing plants in Bantry and Cork city. The company supplies fresh and frozen seafood to the retail and food service markets in Ireland and overseas.

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Irish seafood exporters have received approval under a new registration system required for the vast Chinese market.

A total of 36 Irish food business operators have had registrations renewed under the new system, the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) has confirmed.

The changed requirement was introduced last year by the Chinese competent authority, the General Administration of Customs China (GACC), the SFPA says.

It “marked a major change in how export registrations for Irish exporters trading with China are governed” and was a significant challenge, it says.

“The SFPA, in liaison with Department of Foreign Affairs colleagues in Beijing, have been working with the Irish fishing industry over the past six months to ensure as smooth a transition to this new regime as possible,” it says.

This involved “full migration of all Chinese export registration requests to a new GACC online portal”.

The registrations which have been successfully renewed by the 36 seafood businesses are valid until 2028, the SFPA says.

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A new study by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) - the State agency that supports development of the seafood sector in Ireland - has found that Irish-produced seafood is among the lowest carbon food produced in Ireland. This study provides the Irish seafood sector with access to reliable data for the first time. It identifies areas for targeted strategies to help minimise the carbon emissions associated with seafood production.

The Carbon Footprint Report of the Irish Seafood Sector found that carbon emissions for the sector are just under 400,000 tonnes of CO2 – less than 2% of those produced in other key food sectors. This number includes the emissions for both farmed and wild-caught seafood. Farmed mussels (rope-grown), oysters and wild-caught mackerel in particular, have been shown to have very low carbon emissions.

Caroline Bocquel, BIM Chief Executive Officer, welcomed the newly published report saying it provided scientific evidence that the sector has significantly low levels of greenhouse gas emissions:

“Access to reliable data is crucial to understand which steps of seafood production create the most emissions. Being able to feed people in a healthy, nutritious, and equitable way, without adding to global warming, is key.

This comprehensive study has taken almost two years to complete. Delivering the data required input from industry and other stakeholders. The findings of the report demonstrate how the sector is producing a beneficial , nutritious, and safe food with low environmental impacts.”

Caroline Bocquel, BIM Chief Executive OfficerCaroline Bocquel, BIM Chief Executive Officer says Irish seafood has among the lowest emissions of all food production in Ireland 

“In fishing, fuel accounts for more than 90% ofcarbon emissions, while processing and transportation accounts for 10% of the emissions. Already, we are seeing transitions away from exclusively diesel-powered engines to hybrid vessels and alternative fuels are also being explored. Later this year BIM will produce a report under the Climate Action Plan 2023 on the role these alternative fuels may play in the future of the Irish seafood sector. We now have a great opportunity to reduce emissions even further.”

The seafood sector and Brexit adjustment

The Irish fishing sector has faced significant challenges in recent years, including the closure of markets due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing impact of Brexit. The Government’s Seafood Taskforce – which included seafood representative organisations – produced a set of recommendations in its final report. These include business supports, funding for capital projects and development of skills to allow seafood businesses to build or adapt their operating models. It also extends to other businesses in coastal communities, to help ensure these are sustainable.

BIM is currently administering schemes with a total value of €265m under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR) delivering on the recommendations of the Seafood Taskforce. The aim of all schemes is to develop and restructure the sector, ensuring a profitable and sustainable seafood industry providing jobs and economic activity in coastal communities dependent on fishing.

A decommissioning scheme for whitefish vessels – similar to one initiated in 2008 – was one of the central recommendations of the taskforce to mitigate the impact of quota transfers from the EU to the UK, which resulted from Brexit, and ensure a viable industry could remain in place. The closing date for the scheme’s acceptance of offers is next month, March 2. 57 letters of the offer have been issued with total funding of €75 million. To date, 20 owners have accepted.

A €45M Seafood Processors Scheme - for improvements and innovation in seafood processing - has received a good response. To date, 21 projects of significant size have been approved, totalling some €22M.

The €25M Brexit Blue Economy Enterprise Scheme seeks to rejuvenate businesses in coastal communities around Ireland, helping them to adapt, restructure and reskill in the post-Brexit landscape. BIM has received hundreds of applications to date. Everything ranging from mobile seafood trucks to sea salt businesses has successfully applied for funding, and more than €3.5M in grant funding has been approved to date.

“The seafood sector has shown immense resilience and strength in its ability to adapt to changing marketplaces and socio-political impacts. BIM is working closely with industry and other stakeholders to develop supports that allow businesses to be agile and take advantage of new market opportunities,” said Caroline Bocquel.

“Coupled with the fact that seafood has one of the lowest carbon footprints of any food produced in Ireland, this paves the way for a sustainable future for the sector.”

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Irish fishing industry representatives have commended the European Commission for “standing firm” over a push by Norway for additional access to Irish waters.

Negotiations between the EU and Norway were suspended late last week without approving Norway's request for more access to blue whiting off the Irish coast.

It was anticipated the issue would be referred on to the annual EU agrifish council, which opened on Sunday in Brussels.

Commenting on behalf of the Irish seafood sector, IFPO chief executive Aodh O'Donnell commended the EU for "standing firm in relation to the Norwegian request for additional access to Irish waters", and urged the European Commission and Mr McConalogue to "maintain a firm line".

An overall 81 per cent increase in blue whiting quota had been recommended by scientists for the next year.

Blue WhitingBlue Whiting Photo: Wikipedia

Norway is seeking to catch much of its anticipated increased share off the Irish west coast, without any return in terms of quotas directly to Ireland, according to the Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation (IFPO) chief executive Aodh O’Donnell.

““This not just about blue whiting - there is a principle here, where a non-EU member state should not be given access to areas within our EEZ without some return for Ireland,” O’Donnell said.

Reciprocal Arctic cod quotas would mainly be allocated to other EU member states, including Spain, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Portugal, the IFPO leader said.

“The Norwegians need to be equitable and fair in making a request such as this,” Irish Fish Processors and Exporters’ Association (IFPEA) chief executive Brendan Byrne said.

Fine Gael MEP Colm MarkeyFine Gael MEP Colm Markey

O’Donnell raised the issue with the EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius at a meeting arranged by Fine Gael MEP Colm Markey in Brussels several weeks before the opening of the annual EU fish quota talks.

The IFPO said it believed the Commissioner understood the “access principle” in relation to a non-EU member seeking to fish inside the Irish exclusive economic zone.

Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Fisheries State Secretary Vidar Ulriksen has said allocation of cod to other EU members in return for blue whiting is “internal EU policy, and Norway is not involved in these decisions”.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine said Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue was “seeking to address the challenge” and was maintaining close contact with the Irish industry.

Published in Fishing

Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency is hosting a series of information meetings about the National Seafood Survey with vessel owners at various ports from October onwards. These events will include discussions about the importance of returning the annual survey and will include demonstrations on how to register for and complete the 2022 online survey.

Earlier this year, BIM appointed Dr Sarah Perry as its National Seafood Survey Coordinator for fisheries and aquaculture. Sarah has worked in the marine sector for the past 15 years providing technical policy guidance and stakeholder engagement expertise to governments in Ireland, north-west Europe, and Africa. As part of her new role at BIM, she also coordinates Ireland’s socio-economic data collection framework under EU MAP (Multi-Annual Programme) legislation.

Doctor Sarah Perry

Sarah has a PhD in Marine Resource Management with a focus on fisheries and aquaculture and a Masters in Applied Coastal and Marine Management with GIS. Prior to joining BIM, she worked in the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, University College Cork, and the Marine Institute.

What is the National Seafood Survey for fisheries?

The annual survey asks a series of questions about the financial and operational performance of fishing vessels and the demographics of the crew. It is also an opportunity for industry to report how they have navigated challenges and changes such as the impacts of Brexit, COVID-19 and increasing fuel costs. All data and information shared with BIM as part of the survey returns are treated in the strictest confidence and stored in a protected and secure database with limited access. Data is anonymised and no figures relating to any individual or specific vessel are revealed in any outputs reported as a national or European level.

Why is it important to return your survey on an annual basis?

Data collected as part of the National Seafood Survey provides insights into the economic performance status of Ireland’s catching sector. It also provides insights into the social demographics of people employed in the sector on an annual basis. It is a legal requirement to complete and return the survey (S.I. No. 132 of 2010) and a condition of grant aid payment. It is also an integral part of fisheries performance data that Ireland is obligated to report to the EU. Creating an accurate picture of the industry relies on consistent support and goodwill from skippers and vessel owners to provide economic and operational data on an annual basis.

The results of the survey help both industry and policy makers to examine the current challenges impacting the industry, understand the challenges and opportunities they face, as well as the impact of fisheries management measures. The survey returns also form the basis for the justification of national and EU grant aid programmes, focused on supporting the industry and coastal communities, under the Common Fisheries Policy.”

Data collected from last year’s survey will be published in September in BIM’s Annual Fisheries Report. This report provides insights and trends for the financial and operational performance of the Irish fishing fleet and the potential drivers behind them based on the economic data for 2020 operations along with projections on the performance of the industry in 2022.

Why has the survey moved online?

While traditionally, the National Seafood Survey for fisheries was conducted by a postal survey, in 2021 BIM moved the survey online to help make the process of providing data easier and more secure.

When is the next survey taking place?

The next online survey will open in October 2022 and end on 31 January 2023. All active vessels are requested to submit economic, employment and operational details for their 2021 operations.

When is BIM hosting the National Seafood Survey events this autumn and how can I find out more?

Specific dates have yet to be confirmed but if you would like to register your interest in attending, please email [email protected]

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