“It clearly demonstrates the scale and importance of the Irish seafood sector to our economy, supporting over 14,000 jobs. From a government perspective, it’s encouraging to note how public investment is helping to strengthen an already vibrant sector to the benefit of exports and job creation particularly in rural and coastal regions.”
BIM chief executive Jim O’Toole said Ireland’s seafood sector was “thriving” and its contribution to GDP had grown by more than 14% over the past two years:
“The fact that trade sales have exceeded €1bn for the first time demonstrates the clear demand for Irish seafood. It is important we build on this impressive performance as we collectively work to achieve the targets for seafood in the government’s ‘Food Wise 2025’ report.”
In terms of trade, the EU remains Ireland’s main export market, valued at €392m (up 9%). Irish seafood is building significant growth markets across Africa, Asia and the Middle East which all report double digit growth.
Fish and shellfish landed into Ireland’s main fishing ports by Irish and non-Irish vessels rose 7% to €40m, with Killybegs, Co Donegal, recording the highest value up 24% to €125m. This is largely attributed to a 13% increase in mackerel landings worth €83m.
Seventy-eight per cent of non-Irish landings valued at €118m comprised hake, monkfish and megrim. Forty-five per cent of these landings were from French vessels.
On the domestic market, Irish appetites for seafood grew by 4% valued at €429m from sales in supermarkets and shops as well as in restaurants, cafes and canteens. Salmon, cod and prawns continue to be the favoured species with salmon valued at €96m and cod at €48m. Growing demand for pollack and hake increased by 19% in 2017.
Over 14,000 people are employed, directly and indirectly in the seafood sector. This value should not be underestimated, added Jim O’Toole:
“As well as employment, seafood is a key driver in economic activity and in many cases is at the heart of the community. In Donegal alone, the sector accounts for 12% of total coastal employment.
“Seafood processing companies are growing in number and now account for half of the total employment in the Irish seafood sector.
“The revenue and employment seafood delivers to our overall economy and directly to our peripheral coastal communities is invaluable.”
• Irish seafood value surpassed €1bn (€1.15bn) for the first time, with exports valued at €666m
• France is Ireland’s premier export market, accounting for more than 25% of total exports
• wild caught and farmed seafood combined increased by 12% to €609m
• 29% in public investment to €170m (including increased expenditure through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund)
• 24% value growth in Ireland’s aquaculture industry to €208m predominantly driven by the higher value of Irish organic salmon, up 69% in value.