The three year strategy, drafted in consultation with the Irish seafood industry and entitled Delivering on the Potential of Irish Seafood 2010-2012, will be delivered by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), the Irish Sea Fisheries Board.
The detailed plan sets out over 70 detailed actions under four key themes that underpin the opportunities for the Irish seafood sector including Business Development and Innovation, Knowledge and Technology Transfer, Skills Development and Environment and Sustainability.
The strategy is geared to improve the sector's performance during what is a difficult and challenging time for the Irish seafood sector and will assist industry through programmes of financial assistance, skills development, enhanced environmental compliance, product differentiation and labelling, new product development and innovation and improved commercial practices.
According to BIM, the prospects for seafood, both at a global and European level, are very favourable, especially in the medium to long term. With a growing world population, it is estimated that an additional 30 million tonnes of seafood will needed by 2030 to meet the growing demand and this growth in demand offers great potential and opportunity for Irish seafood companies.
Some of the key actions in the strategy aim to capitalise on this growth potential through greater access to route to market. One such action is the facilitation of a seafood distribution hub at an appropriate location on the European mainland to enable seafood companies greater access to trade buyers and distribution links.
Greater differentiation of seafood is also a key priority for BIM to enable seafood producers to add value and identify their produce as Irish in origin in order to compete effectively against cheaper imported produce.
BIM intend to achieve this through the widespread use of BIM’s certified eco-labels. 100 vessels and 150 fish farms will be covered by Environmental management systems by the end of 2012, this will mean that some 40,000 tonnes of Irish caught or farmed seafood will be produced in an environmentally friendly fashion.
Further market-led differentiation will be achieved through BIM’s Seafood Development Centre, which will enable companies to produce new seafood products which meet the changing needs of consumer and trade customers. Another area that represents real potential is aquaculture.
BIM intend on increasing aquaculture production capacity by 10,000 tonnes worth an estimated €18 million in new sales.
Jason Whooley, BIM’s CEO added; '"We have worked hard on this strategy to ensure a more business orientated approach is not only applied across the key areas affecting industry but also throughout BIM as an organisation. We have tailored and prioritised our own services to ensure we can fully support and assist Irish seafood companies to take full advantage of the opportunities that exist for the sector. We have set ambitious targets and we are looking forward to playing our part as the development agency for the seafood sector in delivering on this opportunity"
In summary, the top level key targets to be achieved by 2012 are:
- The creation of 600 additional jobs across the Irish seafood sector
- An additional €50 million in value added seafood sales
- Differentiation of 40,000 tonnes of seafood, worth approximately €120 million, as eco-labelled and of Irish origin
- An increased in aquaculture production capacity by approximately 10,000 metric tonnes, worth an estimated €18 million in new sales
- Delivery of 3,500 training places to the seafood sector, in over 30 coastal locations annually
- Award membership to 250 establishments to the BIM Seafood Circle for delivering the highest standards in seafood and service to their customer