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Ireland’s Seafood Sector Is Resilient

The estimated GDP of the Irish seafood sector is €1.22 billion. There are 16,150 people employed, directly and indirectly, in the sector in Ireland which “remained resilient” last year. According to Bord Iascaigh Mhara in its published ‘Snapshot of Ireland’s Seafood Sector’ for 2019 it “weathered the wide global economic challenges of Brexit and volatility in world trade markets.”

The volume of landings into Irish ports decreased by 13 per cent last year. What increased was the value, which grew by 15 per cent to €424 million. This was because of higher value paid for species landed, such as monkfish, hake, haddock and megrim.

The number of seafood processing businesses in Ireland increased by 4 per cent to 164 last year and there was an increase of 8 per cent employment in the sector to a total of over 4,000 jobs, full-time, part-time and casual.

Consumer demand for “more convenient seafood products” grew, according to BIM. Retail fish sales rose to €300 million. Consumer awareness of sustainability and provenance continued to grow and “investments in seafood retail outlets indicated confidence in the sector” where the “food service sector” grew steadily. The estimated value of seafood consumed was €496m. Consumer popularity of species was topped by salmon and cod, with haddock and trout increasing, but drops in popularity for plaice, crab and whiting, according to the report.

Although prices grew, reduced production in key species – which would contradict figures in the NEF report referred to in our editorial – led to a decline of 2 per cent in the value of exports. There was actually an increase in the value of fish imports to Ireland of 6 per cent.

Aquaculture production increased by 2 per cent in volume to 38,000 tonnes but the overall value fell 3 per cent to €172m. The BIM report says that this was “largely driven by reductions in the volume and value of farmed salmon.” The value and volume of shellfish grew by 7 per cent.

Full details in the next edition of the MARINE TIMES