A THREE-year strategy to create 600 jobs and an additional €50 million in value added sales was launched for the Irish seafood industry yesterday.
The blueprint sees huge potential for Ireland’s €700m seafood industry when set against Europe’s current annual demand of some 12 million tonnes valued at about €60 billion.
It is estimated that by 2030, an additional 30 million tonnes of seafood will be needed to meet increasing global demand.
Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Minister, Brendan Smith, and junior Fisheries Minister, Sean Connick, launched both the Bord Iascaigh Mhara strategy for the sector, which employs 11,000 people, and the Irish Seafood National Programme to 2013.
The event was hosted by BIM at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and BIM offices in Clonakilty, Co Cork.
Mr Smith said BIM’s strategy document concentrates on avenues to deliver essential developmental services to a seafood industry undergoing rapid and unparalleled change. “I have consistently stated that the seafood sector, made up as it is of indigenous operators, will have a significant role to play in Ireland’s economic recovery.”
A dedicated allocation of €6.5m is being made available for the remainder of 2010 for the development of the aquaculture and processing sectors. “While the programme also facilitates access to other funding from Bord Bia for marketing, from Enterprise Ireland for processing, and from BIM for added value and innovation and fisheries support,” Mr Connick said.
The IFA’s aquaculture section welcomed the launch of the Government’s investment scheme for modernisation and development of the fish and shellfish farming industry.
But it said Government failure to meet European Union rules regarding Habitats Directive areas disqualified 80% of Irish small and medium enterprises from the scheme while EU competitors can access similar funding.
Executive secretary, Richie Flynn, said there is a massive amount of work to be done to re-establish Ireland as a major seafood producer in Europe.
“Jobs, exports and quality are the 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… 80% of our members will not have access to this scheme because the Department of Environment did not fulfil their obligations under the Habitats Directive.”
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