Oyster, mussel and shellfish farmers are set to converge at an IFA Aquaculture conference in Athlone to discuss issues affecting domestic and international markets that employ hundreds of coastal inhabitants and generate economic development in peripheral areas.

Kenmare Bay3

Salmon farming in Kenmare Bay, Co Kerry

Chairman Jerry Gallagher says the ‘new government’ will have a lot to do implement objectives set out in Foodwise 2025; Our Ocean Wealth, the National Seafood Operational Programme. 

“The incoming minister must ensure that as part of the overall Irish food basket, the Department of Agriculture speeds up reform of the licence sector and reviews its service to industry on the most important aspects of security of tenure, options for working in the environment and the provision of clean coastal waters.”

Speakers at the conference on May 19 include representatives of the European Commission; Tara McCarthy, BIM chief executive; the department’s licencing division; the SFPA; Marine Institute; Bord Bia and the President of the French Shellfish Growers Association (CNC) M. Gerald Viaud.

The conference dinner guest of honour is new IFA President, Joe Healy.

• A report carried out for IFA in 2015 by leading agri-economist Professor Alan Renwick showed that the Irish oyster sector contribute €58m to the rural economy and support 760 full- time jobs, with the vast majority of income earned from exports. According to Renwick, a further increase of €6m and an additional 77 jobs cpuld be produced with every 10% increase in production. http://www.ifa.ie/sectors/aquaculture/oysters-in-the-national-economy/

• An opinion poll carried out in summer 2015 found a significant increase in local residents happy to see aquaculture in their locality from from 27% (2008) to 49% (2015) giving the main reasons for support of a fish farm in the locality as employment (59%), ensuring fish stocks (27%), provides a healthy food to eat (22%), creates wealth and helps support local communities (18%). http://www.ifa.ie/sectors/aquaculture/20085-2/

• The Wild Atlantic Way initiative has seen a number of shellfish farmers set up retail outlets for their products on the route and has encouraged a resurgence in food and culture-based tourism festivals such as the Connemara Mussel Festival and the Carrigaholt Oyster Festival as well as others in Achill, Carlingford and Galway. http://coastmonkey.ie/best-irish-seafood-festivals-2016-edition/

Conference details on www.ifa.ie/aquaculture