Ireland’s albacore tuna fishery of 2,367 tonnes quota (2016) is well underway and remains open until the end of September.
Spain continues to be the main market, accounting for 88% of exports valued at €5.6m in 2015, while France accounted for 9% of exports, valued at €500,000. Total exports increased by 29% on 2014.
Ireland’s albacore tuna fishery began in 1990 when vessels steamed to the Bay of Biscay. Vessels now wait until the albacore migrate closer to the Irish coast, thereby using less fuel and applying a more sustainable approach. Irish boats land into Castletownbere, Baltimore (Co Cork) and Dingle (Co Kerry); the vast majority (88%) are landed into Castletownbere.
A rich source of complete protein, selenium and Vitamin B12, albacore tuna grow to 140cm and can weigh up to 60kg. While one of the smaller tuna species, its pale coloured flesh with firm meaty texture is moist and delicate and is a highly sought-after product.
As a very seasonal fishery, supply can be an issue for seafood processors and retailers. To overcome this challenge, Irish seafood companies, such as Shine’s Seafoods, have developed value-added products.
“I was a fisherman for 20 years and have lived in Killybegs, Co Donegal, for the past 30 years. As a result, I am more familiar with the variety of fish caught in our waters. Irish albacore tuna is in my opinion Ireland’s best kept secret,” remarked John Shine, managing Director.
To create greater awareness on the domestic market, Shine’s Seafood has developed a tuna product preserved with olive oil and salt, Shine’s Irish Caught Tuna.
“This allows us to sell this amazing and highly nutritional product all year”, available in SuperValu nationwide and in selected gourmet food stores and restaurants.
Ireland’s albacore tuna fishery is an example of lesser-known fisheries highlighted in BIM’s Business of Seafood – a Snapshot of Ireland’s Seafood Sector. Irish seafood is a €1bn GDP industry where mackerel and prawns are the most valuable fisheries.
Further reading: http://www.bim.ie/media/gBM2312_BIM_Report_FULL_FA_LowRes.pdf