Aquaculture for all

Irish aquaculture: A primary player on the world stage

IRELAND - Celtic aquaculture is gaining a strong reputation and Ireland's industry looks set to become a world leader in the offshore sector.

Sean O’Neachtain

Its enviable position is being bolstered by increasing volume production, expanding markets and booming business opportunities in fish farming.

This buoyant message came from Sean O’Neachtain, MEP, who opened “Offshore Aquaculture in Europe-The ‘Next Steps’”, a major international forum, held yesterday in Dublin. The workshop coincided with the start of the World Seafood Congress, being held at Croke Park, in the city this week.

“Ireland has a reputation in Europe as one of the world leaders in open aquaculture production. As we experience both dwindling stocks and an ever increasing demand for seafood products, aquaculture is likely to be the most realistic and sustainable way to provide quality fish products to consumers,” said Mr O’Neachtain.

The Irish fish farming industry is now producing more than 60,000 tonnes of fish per annum at a value of over €100 million. Production values have doubled during the past 15 years and the industry has created more than 1,600 jobs. It is becoming an important industry for communities on the west of Ireland and offers significant potential for economic growth and development.

The workshop, which has been funded by the EU, had an international line-up of speakers. Industry experiences were recounted from the USA, Spain and Ireland and covered a variety of fish and shellfish production systems in offshore conditions.

It was designed to provide anyone with an interest in offshore fish farming with an opportunity to submit their thoughts on the next steps for development. The information gleaned at this event will be used to compile a comprehensive report outlining the way forward for the European aquaculture industry. A final dossier is planned for submission to the European Commission in February 2008.

The objective of the EU project which funded the workshop is to investigate the opportunity and usefulness for the aquaculture industry of promoting offshore fish farming through a “technological platform” involving a consortium of international experts and stakeholders.

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