Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Monday 25 September 2017

Seafood strategy to boost Irish jobs and exports

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

The creation of 600 jobs, an additional €50m in value added seafood sales and greater differentiation of 40,000 tonnes of Irish seafood products worth €120m are among the key points in a new three-year strategy for the seafood sector.

The strategy was launched last week by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith, and Minister of State with responsibility for Fisheries, Sean Connick TD.

The Irish Seafood National Programme to 2013 was also unveiled at the event, which took place in BIM's offices in Clonakilty, Co Cork.

IFA's aquaculture section welcomed the announcement but the organisation pointed out that the Government's failure to meet EU rules regarding Habitats Directive areas disqualified 80pc of Irish small businesses from the scheme.

IFA aquaculture executive secretary Richie Flynn said there was a massive amount of work to be done to re-establish Ireland as a major seafood producer in Europe.

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"Geographically, environmentally, economically and socially we can be world seafood leaders," Mr Flynn said

"Jobs, exports and quality are they key issues which the Government must focus on, yet we have had to wait since 2007 for this programme to be announced because of the apathy of Government departments towards the seafood industry.

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"The fact that Ireland got caught red-handed by the European Commission for not properly establishing measures to license fishing and aquaculture in its marine protected areas is shameful. But it is only our industry, with people mortgaged to the hilt around the coast, who are paying the price," he added.

"Eighty percent of our members will not have access to this scheme because the Department of Environment did not fulfil their obligations under the Habitats Directive. Family-owned companies in the west of Ireland will be barred from access to grant aid because the old Dúchas, and now the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) did not do their job and got caught, costing the Irish economy millions of euro."

Mr Flynn called on the Government to give greater priority to promoting businesses based on natural renewable resources and put Ireland back on the map in terms of output and quality from our seafood industry.

Irish Independent