Farmed salmon sector ‘on verge of collapse’ as imports flood in

THE farmed salmon industry in Ireland is close to collapse with more than a third of jobs lost and a fifth of companies in receivership, according to the Government.

The European Commission yesterday agreed to open an investigation into the possible dumping of cheap salmon on the European market, especially from Norway, Chile and the Faroe Islands, and its effect on the industry.

Extra duties on salmon from these countries were lifted last May and as a result imports increased by at least 15%.

The problem has been made worse by some Irish companies importing the cheaper fish, smoking it in Ireland and selling it as an Irish product.

Ireland’s farmed fish industry is the fourth largest in Europe and salmon is an especially important part of that according to the Irish Salmon Producers Group.

The probe was welcomed by salmon farmers and by the Marine Minister Dermot Ahern, who submitted evidence of dumping to the Commission last month.

“The situation in farmed salmon is critical with jobs down from 1,600 to 1,000 last year and 20% of indigenous Irish firms in receivership”, he said.

The laying off of 600 people especially in coastal areas is particularly worrying, he added.

From 1997 to last year there were anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on imports of salmon from these countries, but these were removed after the countries gave undertakings that they would maintain their processing and production at a stable rate.

However after the anti-dumping measures were removed last May imports surged by 15% and the price for Irish salmon collapsed, falling by as much as 26%. At the same time production in Norway increased and they intend to increase it further this year.

Declan Droney of Kenmare Salmon in Kinvara, Co Galway said large amounts of cheap salmon, especially from Norway and Chile has flooded into the country in recent months.

“Some of this is being labelled as produced in Ireland and people buy it thinking it is Irish salmon”, he said.

A spokesperson for Trade, Arancha Gonzalez, said they expect such an investigation to take up to nine months to complete. “We have been presented with evidence by the Irish and British governments on farm salmon imports. Both countries complain that there has been a 14% increase in nine months of 2003 compared to the same time in 2002.”

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