Irish sales of the smaller, moist, delicate albacore tuna species rose by 29% in value last year, according to Bord Iascaigh Mhara’s ‘Business of Seafood’ report.
Irish fishermen caught a quota of 2,367 tonnes of the smaller tuna species, worth over €5m during the July to September season.
The value of exports of albacore tuna were €6.4m in 2015, up significantly from the €5m value of the catch in 2014.
Popular for their soft pink flesh and firm meaty texture, the smaller tuna are caught in the ports of Castletownbere, Baltimore and Dingle with Castletownbere, accounting for 88% of Ireland’s total landings.
Irish vessels previously sailed to the French Bay of Biscay for the catch, but now fish locally, resulting is less fuel being used.
To overcome the species’ seasonality, Irish seafood company Shine’s Seafood has developed ‘Shine’s Irish Caught Tuna’, available nationwide in SuperValu and in selected gourmet food stores and restaurants.
John Shine, Shine’s Tuna managing director, said: “I was a fisherman for 20 years. I’ve lived in Killybegs for the past 30 years. In my opinion, Irish albacore tuna is Ireland’s best kept secret.
“So we developed a preserved Irish tuna product using only the best albacore tuna from Castletownbere with olive oil and salt, allowing us to sell this nutritional product all year round.”
Albacore tuna grow up to 140cm and can weigh 60kg. Like all tuna, albacore is a rich source of complete protein, selenium and vitamin B-12.
Of Ireland’s €6.4m in albacore tuna exports last year, Spain accounted for 88% of the total, at €5.6m. France imported €0.5m, 9% of the total export last year.
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