Munster acqulture enterprises are among the first to be helped by the new Agriculture, Food and Marine Minister Barry Cowen.
Four of the fifteen businesses approved for support under his Department’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Programme are from Cork, Kerry and Waterford.
Enterprises in Galway, Donegal, Mayo, Sligo are also to benefit from the total new investment of €3.4m which includes €1.3m support from the department.
Mr Cowen said the investments are aimed at boosting production at oyster, mussel and salmon sites around the coast.
“It is heartening to see this continuing confidence in the future by these ambitious aquaculture enterprises.
“While recent months were challenging for many aquaculture businesses, the overall trend has been one of growing world demand for our seafood products,” he said.
The grants, co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union, are subject to terms and conditions. Mr Cowen has meanwhile chaired his first meeting of the Food Wise 2025 High-Level Implementation Committee (HLIC) to discuss the ongoing economic implications of COVID-19 for the sector, Brexit preparations and progress on the new Agri-food Strategy to 2030.
“Agri-food, including fisheries, is Ireland’s most important indigenous sector and I look forward to leading the continued development of the sector, especially now as we work our way through the twin challenges of the economic impact of Covid-19 and ongoing Brexit uncertainty.
“As set out in the programme for government, farm families and food businesses are the heartbeat of rural Ireland, and we will work with the sector to improve farm incomes and protect the family farm for future generations.
“We will look to build on Ireland’s green reputation for producing high-quality and sustainable produce at the least environmental cost, ensuring the long-term outlook for the agri-food industry remains positive and vibrant,” he said.
In relation to seafood, Mr Cowen said he is conscious of both the potential of the sector and the real challenges it faces from Brexit and Covid-19 impacts.
“Working our way through those challenges with the sector, I am confident that we will place it on a path that delivers on the potential of the sector,” he said.