Ireland to host world's largest fish oils facility
IRISH fishermen are aiming to harvest fish oils and minerals that could provide valuable health-enhancing ingredients for consumers and sportspeople.
Agriculture and Marine Minister Simon Coveney has welcomed plans by the Killybegs Fishermen's Organisation (KFO) to build the largest marine food ingredients plant in the world in Co Donegal.
The proposed facility would take 50,000 tonnes of boarfish, which is currently only used for low-priced fishmeal, and extract high-end proteins, oils and calcium for use as food ingredients.
These would include naturally-occurring lipids or fat-soluble vitamins with the potential to produce supplements for athletes to take best advantage of the health benefits of the fish.
The €35m plant would be a joint venture with Norwegian company Biomarine Science Technology, and would create 50 jobs in construction and a further 70 direct and indirect jobs when it goes into production in 2016.
A site in Killybegs has been identified but the plant still has to go through the planning process and will be dependent on state aid to get established. Discussions on funding are ongoing. Mr Coveney said the facility could become a "game-changer in the seafood sector".
"It will position Killybegs and Ireland as a global leader in supply and research around new products and benefits."
It was made possible by Ireland getting a 70pc share of new EU quotas for boarfish, which would amount to 88,000 tonnes in 2014, he said.
KFO chief executive Sean O'Donoghue said Ireland could become a global leader in supply and research of new marine products and bring badly-needed jobs.
"With increasing food ingredient prices and a shortage of quality protein in the market, there is a significant opening in the market for the output which this new venture can deliver," he said.
The Norwegian company has a lot of experience in the marine biotech area and the technical expertise to extract valuable ingredients from marine species including clean fish oil.
Boarfish contains some Omega 3 fish oils, the consumption of which is believed to be beneficial to heart and brain health.
The new facility would also be able to extract ingred- ients from other species, such as blue whiting.