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Irish Eyes Set East for Seafood Exports

IRELAND - Sales of Irish seafood grew by 6pc from 778m to 850m last year, according to the Irish Sea Fisheries Board, An Bord Iascaigh Mhara.

Provisional figures show that the Irish retail and food-service market for seafood is growing and domestic seafood sales are increasing by seven per cent . Sales into the retail sector are currently valued at €169m. Sales to the food-service sector are €213m, up five per cent.

BIM Chief Executive Jason Whooley said that Ireland's seafood sector's performance is founded on good growth in the domestic market, achieved on the back of record consumption in 2006.

"While the growth in exports is modest, it is pleasing to see Irish seafood holding its own in traditional markets, while also enjoying a significant increase in sales in non-traditional markets, such as Asia and Africa," he said.

In 2007, Irish seafood exports were valued at around €360m - the figure is fairly static and compares with 2006 performance. France had the highest export value at €85m, taking 24 per cent of Irish exports , while the second most important destination for Irish seafood was the UK, valued at €68.6m worth of seafood exports.

New markets are being opened up with positive hopes for expansion to places like Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and China. Collectively they represented €20m for Irish exporters.