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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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A Co Wexford boatyard says that a €340,000 investment under the Brexit Blue Economy enterprise development scheme will allow it to work with heavier fishing and leisure vessels for dry dock and repair.

New Ross Boat Yard has taken delivery of a 60-ton hoist that will not only handle bigger vessels but is also more energy efficient, operating on reduced diesel.

The well-known marine facility extends to over four acres and has 230 metres of shoreline to the west of the River Barrow, as well as access to the rivers Nore and the Suir.

One of its key facilities is a 15-metre by 70-metre-long dry dock used for servicing large commercial fishing boats and ferries, as well as smaller leisure boats.

The boatyard has also used the funding to invest in a 10 KW wind turbine and solar panels which are reducing energy bills and the businesses carbon footprint.

The boatyard received total grant aid of €170,000 towards its €340,000 investment under the Brexit Blue Economy Enterprise Development Scheme.

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

Boat Yard owner Michael Kehoe said the former 25-year-old boat hoist could only lift 50 tons, was not energy efficient, and needed more and more maintenance to keep it in working order.

“We had a number of boats that we were no longer in a position to take into the yard due to the capacity of this lift,”he explained.

“The new lift has made a huge difference. It means we can take on bigger boats, and see the weights displayed on each lifting point, something which is very important and allows us to distribute weight when lifting a vessel,” he said.

At any given time, there are over 100 boats in the yard representing a mix of fishing and leisure boats in for servicing and repair, and for winter storage.

Currently, the yard is servicing two ‘mini-cruise’ ships - the Barrow Princess and Cailín Déise owned by the Three Sisters Cruise Company. The company runs mini cruises along the rivers Suir and Barrow.

The boatyard also does important maintenance work on the Dunbrody famine replica, which is based on New Ross quay front.

New Ross Boat Yard has a history dating back 50 years. At its height in the 1970s, it employed around 400 people and supported vessels that sailed all over the globe.

Michael Kehoe and his brother Stephen bought the boat yard in 2008 and they invested in the refurbishment of the dry dock as well as building a storage facility, showroom, offices and storerooms.

It offers boat sales, services, and storage facilities all on-site, and has one of only three dry docks in Ireland measuring 70 meters in length.

Before the solar panels and wind turbine were introduced, the yard's electricity bills were €2,500 a month.

“By being able to offset the cost of our electricity bills and possibly selling electricity back to the grid, we are in a position to protect ourselves against future price rises,” Kehoe said.

Published in Marine Trade

The owners of a former Dingle fish processing plant have received Brexit-related grant aid towards a 1.3 million euro visitor attraction, which recalls the harbour’s famous dolphin, Fungi.

The Keane family, owners of Ó Catháin Iasc Teo, have invested over €1,355,000 in the project, of which more than €177,000 was grant-aided under the Brexit Blue Economy Enterprise Development Scheme.

The Wild Atlantic Virtual Experience (WAVE), as it is called, offers visitors an “immersive ocean experience”, telling the story of marine life through the eyes of the men and women who have fished off the Co Kerry shores for thousands of years.

The WAVE project is using what is described as Ireland’s “largest 360-degree LED screen” which includes screening of life size computer-generated images of Fungi.The project is using what is described as Ireland’s “largest 360-degree LED screen” which includes screening of life size computer-generated images of Fungi Photo: Dominick Walsh

The project is using what is described as Ireland’s “largest 360-degree LED screen” which includes screening of life size computer-generated images of Fungi.

“The experience also explores shipwrecks and uncovers the myths and legends of the sea, bringing visitors up close to majestic humpback and orca whales, seals, turtles, and other sea life,” BIM says.

It includes a virtual trip through a sunken Spanish Armada ship and German U-boats.

Michael Keane says that “climate change” has hurt the Ó Catháin fisheries business substantially in recent years.

“We were primarily a herring factory, but they have migrated further north due to climate change,”he says.

“There’s almost no stock of herring down here now. We used to work for eight months of the year, now it’s six weeks,” he said.

“We had to do something to stay in business and we knew the fish business and the culture, so we eventually hit on the idea of developing Wave in the 17,000 sq ft building in which we had our fish processing operations,”he said.

“Without the support of the Brexit Blue Economy Enterprise Development Scheme and BIM, we would not have been in a position to make this investment. Since we opened, the reaction has been great,” he said.

“ We will keep developing the experience, and aim to create an iconic international and local market attraction that highlights the best of the Dingle Peninsula, accessible all year, and further enhancing Dingle as a year round destination,”he added.

WAVE can accommodate over 200 tourists per hour and is laid out in five separate rooms, each with its own experience. It aims for 70,000 visitors annually and 16 full-time employees over five years.

The project aims to be carbon neutral by 2028.

“We have installed energy efficiency lights and solar panels,”Keane says.

“There is also a cafe with sustainable packaging and offering locally supplied produce. The building has been designed to easily add further initiatives over the coming years,” he says.

Published in BIM

The Connemara farmed salmon producer Cill Chiaráin Éisc Teoranta (CCET), has completed a substantial €543,000 investment with support from Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR) funding.

CCET, which is the production arm of the Irish Seafood Producers Group (ISPG), says it has transformed its operations through the investment, increasing quality and efficiency and upscaling production.

Up to €272,000 of the total investment was grant-aided under a Brexit-related scheme funded by the EU to ease the negative impact of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. The fund was administered by Bord Iascaigh Mhara.

Automated portion, skinning and strapping machines have been installed, along with a new temperature control system.

Staff are processing salmon on the factory floor in Cill Chiaráin, ConnemaraStaff are processing salmon on the factory floor in Cill Chiaráin, Connemara

“We are very excited about the energy efficiencies. Everything now is geared towards being sustainable and our ambition is to cut down on our carbon footprint and to one day be carbon neutral,”Bridie Casey, CCET financial controller said.

Cill Chiaráin Éisc Teoranta (CCET) was established in Cill Chiaráin in 1988 and currently gives employment to around 30 local people, eight of those full time all year

“Our careful selection processes ensure that only fish of the highest quality is packed and distributed to our customers mainly in Switzerland and France,”Casey said.

She says supply of organic salmon has been a challenge in recent years.

Currently salmon is being supplied to CCET by three local producers, Mannin Bay Salmon Limited, Curraun Fisheries Ltd and Bradán Beo Teo.

Between them, they provide an average of 100 tonnes of salmon a week. All three companies have a 51% stake in CCET.

“Without our local salmon farmers we would not be in business. We value them and look forward to working alongside them in partnership for years to come,”she said.

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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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