The south west of Ireland produces 12,700 tonnes of farmed fish and shellfish worth €46 million at the farm gate, and employs 585 full time on land and sea.
The Canadian visitors were given presentations by An Bord Bia, the Marine Institute, BIM, Department of Agriculture and IFA and visited the Daithí O’Murchú Research Centre, Fastnet Mussels, Marine Harvest Ireland and Bantry Harbour Mussels as well as a tour of the area including Whiddy Island to learn about the history of Bantry Bay and its local tourism highlights.
Formally welcoming the delegation at a bilateral conference on aquaculture issues, IFA’s Deputy President Tim O’Leary said: “Ireland and Canada share a global market in seafood. Both countries are major exporters of all types of food with a huge reliance economically on rural activity and production.
"The eastern provinces of Canada and Ireland’s west and south coasts have much in common, including in many cases shared family history, and we have both come to realise the potential of farming the sea as well as the land.”
He continued: “Significant benefits for farmers can be gained through information sharing and partnership.
"Research is a key driver for aquaculture just as in other food production the focus on efficiency and making more sustainable use of our resources is driving us to be better and more resilient to outside market forces. IFA and the Associations, agencies and governments will benefit our members by developing bilateral relations in R&D”.
“Giving hope back to local communities, particularly those in peripheral areas is a common feature of fish farming wherever it is practised, simply by its nature.
"Whether you’re in Bantry Bay or the Bay of Fundy, there are towns and villages who have seen their economies devastated by problems in fisheries and simply by being located too far from the centres of power.
“Putting food production at the top of the agenda in peripheral areas is the best way to regain economic stability and growth and once again develop a healthy and thriving economy.
"The similarities of the stories and experiences in towns and villages on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean where salmon farming has been developing over the past 40 years is remarkable.”
Mr O’Leary concluded: “IFA is delighted to show off the best that Ireland can produce, to showcase the Wild Atlantic Way and our farmers in the west Cork region and to encourage the mayors and companies present here to spread the word about Ireland as a destination for agri and aqua tourism.”