Irish aquaculture grows 20 percent in one year, oysters a hit in China
The aquaculture industry in Ireland increased in value by 20 percent or EUR 34 million (USD 38 million) to EUR 150 million (USD 167.7 million) last year, according to new figures published by the Irish Sea Fisheries Board, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).
Data from the latest BIM Annual Aquaculture Survey also showed that 2015 saw a strong recovery in the volume produced with a 25 percent rise in the country’s total harvest, reaching 40,140 metric tons (MT). At the same time, the number of people employed by the industry has stabilized at 1,840.
“While 2015 was a challenging year for some operators in the shellfish industry, overall, it has been a positive year for Irish aquaculture. The 27 percent increase in production volumes is a welcome step toward the targets set out in the National Strategic Plan for Aquaculture, which sets a growth target of 45,000 MT across all aquaculture production by 2020,” said BIM CEO Tara McCarthy.
The European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF) along with funding from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is providing almost EUR 30 million (USD 33.5 million) to further assist the sector to develop and achieve these ambitious targets, she said.
BIM is also running two aquaculture schemes to promote the sustainable growth of output, value and employment in the aquaculture sector.
“In line with BIM’s industry wide priorities, our keen focus is to assist aquaculture producers to attract new talent to the sector, build on its already strong sustainability credentials, supporting its drive to add value thus creating a strong and competitive industry for the future,” McCarthy said.
Salmon farming accounts for 64 percent of Ireland’s aquaculture production and is valued at EUR 95 million (USD 106.2 million).
Shellfish farming is valued at EUR 51 million (USD 57 million), including oyster and mussel farming valued at EUR 38 million (USD 42.5 million) and EUR 13 million (USD 14.5 million), respectively.
Last year, Irish oysters were heavily promoted in Hong Kong and China, and the trade went on to account for 10 percent of exports as well as becoming the highest-priced oysters in these markets, said BIM.
More than 90 percent of Irish oysters are exported, the majority going to France.