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Industry to Improve Scale, Profitability in the Whitefish Sector

Sustainability Economics Politics +4 more

IRELAND - Following an initial debate around the difficulties fishermen were experiencing in selling their fish, the Irish sea Fisheries Board (BIM) has instigated a number of industry meetings to address the current issues between fishermen and processors.

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The latest meeting attended by seafood processors, producer organisations and fishermen was held in BIMs offices in Clonakilty on the 8th January. Discussions between both parties immediately identified that poor communication between Irish fishermen and processors has led to a lack of supply and quality in the whitefish sector.

BIM CEO, Jason Whooley outlined what the sector needs to do to compete effectively: "Out of all the seafood sectors, the whitefish sector has the most challenges and ongoing profitability is difficult for many of the vessels and businesses involved. BIM will be working with all parties to address these challenges but it is obvious to all that if we want to have a successful whitefish sector that can hold its own in a rapidly changing and competitive market, we need to work closely together and deliver an excellent product. We must supply what the market requires whether that is a domestic market or an international market."

Feedback from both processors and fishermen at the meeting delivered an insight into the issues they currently face. Processors are competing in an extremely demanding market in terms of volume of supply, consistency of supply, and the high level of standards and quality checks that must be achieved consistently to effectively maintain contracts in these markets. Fishermen are working under the constraints of fuel costs, quotas, difficulties regarding knowing what species of fish are required by the market and when and how prices are affecting the sustainability of the catching sector to reinvest in their business.

All parties agreed that working together, as a united entity, with greater communication would lead to an improved whitefish sector. The group also agreed that the main issues to resolve were a clear communication system between fisherman and processor, scheduled landings and improved quality for some vessels.

As a result of the meeting, it was agreed that BIM will facilitate a Pilot scheme, to assist in addressing the above issues between fishermen and processors. It is expected that this will take place over a four to six week basis and all parties would reconvene to discuss the findings of the project.