Seafood catches on as sales hit a record €1bn
Sales of Irish seafood last year surpassed the €1bn mark for the first time "in an exceptional year for the country's marine economy".
That is according to Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) CEO Jim O'Toole, who said that seafood exports last year grew by 10pc to €666m.
In addition, Mr O'Toole said that along with the €666m in exports, seafood sales domestically increased by 4pc to €429m.
In the BIM 2017 annual report, Mr O'Toole said that Ireland was "well-placed to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the current global seafood trends".
"As the world's population grows, seafood remains the protein source of choice for many in Africa and an increasing number of middle-class consumers in the Asia-Pacific region, where per capita consumption of seafood has trebled in the last 25 years alone," he said.
BIM chairman Kieran Calnan said that the seafood sector "contributed a sizeable €1.15bn to the nation's economy in 2017, a significant increase of 6.4pc on the previous year".
Mr Calnan pointed out that "over 14,000 people are directly and indirectly employed in the seafood sector, many of them based in Ireland's remote coastal communities where alternative options are limited".
He said that the success of the Irish seafood industry is vital to the economies of these regions.
The spend by BIM last year increased by 36.7pc, going from €25.35m to €34.4m and this was funded largely by a grant from of €33.4m from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
The bulk of BIM's spending last year centred around 'Industry Current Development' which increased from €11.98m to €14.5m while the spend on 'Industry Capital Development' went up from €3.5m to €8.5m.
BIM last year recorded a surplus of €1.7m - more than three times the surplus of €492,000 recorded in 2016.
Numbers employed by BIM last year increased from 117 to 142 with staff costs decreasing marginally going from €7.26m to €7.23m.
Mr O'Toole took up his role on April 25, 2017 and was paid €85,000 between that date and the end of the year. His predecessor, Tara McCarthy, was paid €121,000 in 2016.