Speaking at the close of the IFA Aquaculture Conference in Kenmare, Minister Killeen announced EUR3.8m in grant aid support for 2009 to support new Aquaculture Development Projects and EUR1.4m in 2009 for data collection to support aquaculture licencing in marine Natura 2000 sites.
Praising the continued efforts of the aquaculture industry, the Minister stated, “Back in the late 70s and early 80s nobody had even heard of aquaculture and it only accounted for some 6 per cent of the global fish supply at that time. BIM tell me that on a worldwide basis aquaculture now supplies 47 per cent of the total fish supply for human consumption and that this trend continues to grow. This is an extraordinary rate of growth over such a short period of time. This highlights why aquaculture is regarded as the fastest growing sector in food production globally
The IFA conference examined the opportunities and challenges facing the aquaculture industry in Ireland and discussed solutions to overcome obstacles to continued growth.
According to Minister of State Killeen, We know historically that every hundred tonnes of output of farmed salmon generates one full time job on the farm and another 1.26 fulltime jobs ashore. So for every extra 100 tonnes we could produce, we would on average generate almost 2.5 full time equivalent jobs here in our coastal communities. I have committed to promoting the continued growth and development of this important sector which I believe offers real opportunity for increased employment and income generation in our Coastal Communities
Minister of State Killeen acknowledged that there were difficulties with regards to agreeing arrangements with the European Commission for the licensing and regulation of the sector in compliance with the requirements of the habitats and Birds Directives. This issue had lead to a backlog of licence applications.
The Minister said that extensive discussions had been taking place at various levels to resolve the issues and that Minister Brendan Smith had held a bilateral meeting with Commissioner Dimas, the Environment Commissioner to advance matters. The Minister said that his Department was committing EUR1.4m this year to getting the necessary data collected in the Natura 2000 sites where aquaculture is taking place, so as to enable aquaculture activities to be licenced fully in compliance with the Directives.
The Minister also announced that he was committing EUR3.8m to supporting new aquaculture development projects this year.
“This grant aid should enable approximately 20 fish farming projects with a total investment of €8.5m to proceed. The applications for these projects are currently being assessed by BIm & Udaras na Gaeltachta and announcements in relation to the specific projects will be made shortly stated the Clare T.D.
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