Ireland can become ‘world leader in seafood industry’

Ireland is aiming to become a world leader in the seafood market with a new strategy for the sector including plans for a seafood innovation ‘Centre of Excellence’.

The Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) Statement of Strategy Enabling Sustainable Growth will cover the next three years and aims to capitalise on the growing demand for seafood both at home and abroad.

BIM chairman Kieran Calnan said that with the seafood trade reaching €1bn for the first time, “that potential is beginning to be realised”.

The Statement of Strategy sets out how BIM is to support the seafood sector over the next three years and beyond, with CEO Jim O’Toole claiming: “Ireland has the ambition to position itself as an international leader in the global seafood industry.”

He said the strategy is responding to issues raised by a BIM-commissioned report in 2016 which found that the Irish seafood industry was characterised by a lack of scale, constrained in its raw material supply, and undercapitalised.

Mr O’Toole said this would be addressed by a new focus on Ireland as a safe, clean environment in which to catch and produce seafood, by supporting a deliberate move into higher value markets, and underpinned “by an unrelenting focus on driving out costs, whilst securing enhanced value by better management of the whole supply chain from catching through to the final customer”.

According to the strategy, key aspects will include sustainability involving “world-class environmental management systems embedded in all its operations”, enhanced training, and a focus on profitability.

Under sustainability, the strategy emphasises the need to “actively showcase the actions being taken by the sector on sustainability and build societal support for increased seafood production, especially aquaculture”.

In terms of boosting innovation in the sector, one key plank is to establish a multi-campus seafood innovation Centre of Excellence to encourage investment in research and development, directed by BIM in partnership with the sector and research and third level institutions.

It also wants to develop “deep expertise in global seafood economic data collection, assessment and analysis to provide valuable commercial guidance to the sector” and “leverage government and sector relationships in the seafood development space, so as to elevate the status of the sector for investment and accelerate growth”.

The strategy also outlines how BIM hopes to upgrade its own performance.

While Mr O’Toole referred to “an exciting but uncertain time for the Irish seafood industry”, Minister for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine, Michael Creed, said he believes the strategy will help deliver on the aims for the sector, so the seafood industry “can look forward to a more prosperous and stable future”.


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