Ireland’s 130 oyster producers need practical support by way of a working licence system and vital capital aid made available to all growers. IFA’s Aquaculture Executive, Richie Flynn who addressed the IFA/BIM national Oyster workshop in Dungarvan, Co Waterford tomorrow said that over 900 jobs depended on oyster farming in Ireland and demand for our unique quality was growing rapidly.
Mr Flynn said, “Farmers who want to meet the worldwide demand for Irish oysters and play on a level pitch with other EU competitors must have a responsive speedy licencing system for access to good inter-tidal growing areas. They need full access to EU funding mechanisms, denied to them by national bureaucracy for the last five years, to buy the best equipment, improve handling areas and invest in transport of this precious live product to markets at home in Europe, the US and Asia.”
“Oyster production is labour intensive and demanding business requiring pristine waters. When natural disasters occur such as this winter’s storms or algae blooms from far off the west coast coming ashore and killing stocks, oyster growers need to have alternatives available. They also need to make most efficient use of sites where nurseries, depuration and finishing can be achieved at optimum conditions. To do this there must be recognition of the need for flexible, transparent and responsive licensing by the Department of Agriculture, food and the Marine. We must have a champion linking policy and licencing together with a business outlook directing the sector towards success, as proposed in the Association’s report launched by IFA president, Eddie Downey, recently”
Oysters are filter feeders and the species used today (Crassostrea gigas) finds it almost impossible to reproduce in fast flowing, low-temperature waters around Ireland meaning all of our seed stock must be imported. Our position on the Atlantic periphery gives us access to the finest plankton 365 days of the year and ongoing progress with the EPA and county councils mean that more local authorities are becoming aware of their responsibilities to ensure clean unpolluted inshore waters for both oyster growing and the environment in general.
The Dungarvan event brings together producers from right around the coast to discuss markets, Stock health issues, food safety, native oyster production, hatchery and nursery self-sufficiency in Ireland. A panel discussion on the role and significance of farmed oysters growing wild outside of farm sites will be held between scientists, regulators and the industry.
The major production areas in Ireland are Waterford, Donegal, Cork, Mayo, Kerry, Louth, Galway and Clare. Production on average is about 7,500 tonnes worth almost €40 million at farm gate. 933 people were directly employed in the sector according to BIM’s 2012 national Aquaculture survey (www.bim.ie)