The Chairman of IFA Aquaculture Michael Mulloy has criticised the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s lack of support and failure to promote Irish aquaculture production in light of a report which shows output levels plummeting here.
The most dramatic fall was in salmon production where 12,200 tonnes of fish were produced last year, which represents a dramatic 39% reduction on the previous year. “’The Business of Seafood 2018’ report, soon to be published by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), will show that salmon production accounts for more than 67% of the overall value of the Irish aquaculture industry.
“We are now asking the Department how many finfish licences have been issued in the last five years and how many applications are waiting in the system? IFA is aware of applications which were submitted in 2005 which still haven’t been processed 14 years later. This ongoing lack of progress with new licences as well as renewals rests with the Department. It also raises serious questions about the effectiveness of BIM”.
Michael Mulloy said, “Aquaculture is a significant and very valuable source of employment in rural, coastal communities where alternative sources of employment are limited”. Almost two years ago, the Minister published the eagerly anticipated report of the Independent Aquaculture Licensing Review Group which outlined 30 recommendations to improve a dysfunctional regulatory system, but he has implemented few if any, of the actions outlined within.
Ireland’s failure to meet the targets has had a critical impact on the aquaculture sector. The opportunity to create and sustain 1,300 jobs has been wasted. According to BIM’s figures, Irish aquaculture is now 20% below 2010 volumes and based on Government targets of 7.8% yearly growth, this means the industry is a staggering 82% below stated Government policy targets.
Michael Mulloy said IFA is seeking to establish clearly just what the Department intends doing about the missed opportunity and subsequent decline in Irish fish production. “We’ve seen report after report, review followed by review and all the while, the industry is contracting. The time for talking is over, this sector needs real action,” he said.