There has been an angry reaction from Irish industry organisations to the latest Business of Seafood report from Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), which was released last month.
The report concluded that while the volume of seafood produced by the Irish fisheries sector had fallen, there was very strong price growth last year.
It said prices for wild-caught sea fish rose by 38%, and the value of the overall Irish seafood sector increased by 13% to €703m. Irish aquaculture products increased in value by 10% to €196m.
Prawns surpassed mackerel as the most valuable wild-caught species for the industry, having more than doubled in price last year. the report, noting that ‘hake has never been lower in price, and prawns went to the floor’.
He said many of his own members were struggling to keep going, and that he felt the report was unduly focused on the mackerel sector.
An 8% drop in employment was highlighted by the Irish South and East Fish Producers’ Organisation (IS&EFPO) and the Irish Fish Processors’ and Exporters’ Association (IFPEA).
IFPEA chief executive Brendan Byrne gave one of the strongest reactions, describing the report as ‘nothing short of shocking’.
He highlighted that employment within the fish processing sector was reported as having fallen from 3,873 in 2021 to 3,425, but noted that the figures were ‘even lower in the regional breakdown, which stated there were only 3,295 jobs in the sector’.
A fall in export volumes was a further serious issue, he said.
Brendan Byrne noted that last year’s Eurostat fish processing figures showed Ireland falling to tenth place in processing output in Europe.
“In just one year, we will have lost 448 jobs within the processing sector, or 11.5% of the jobs within the sector,” he said. “If this were to occur within any other industry, it would result in a national outcry.”
He said the report’s documented fall in landings ‘did not come as a shock’.
“Unless Ireland changes its ways immediately and becomes a friendlier destination to do business, our fishing industry will continue to suffer.
“If vessels can land into any other EU port without hassle, then the same rules must apply to Ireland – but that is not the case,” he said, claiming that Irish authorities were ‘over- interpreting’ rules that simply ‘do not exist anywhere else in Europe’.
“It is this madness that is costing jobs, loss of income for our coastal communities and the decline within our industry for numerous years.”
It was only price inflation that had ‘saved us from the worst returns in the history of our state’, he claimed.
Brendan Byrne called for a change within the Department of Marine that would ensure a stronger case being put to Europe, and a pull-back from ‘regulating our industry to death’.
This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here.
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