Speaking at the IFA Aquaculture conference in Kinsale, Irish Shellfish Association leader Flor Harrington said that licensing was a ‘make or break’ issue for his members.
Flor Harrington said, “There are almost 600 licences backed up in the Department and, no matter what spin you want to put on it, this is holding up a key sector of the economy which provides 1,700 full and part-time jobs and over €40m in export income. The places we work in are peripheral, rural coastal areas with very little alternative opportunities for our young people.”
Mr Harrington, who was addressing his final conference as Chairman, said, “IFA estimates that by processing licence applications and meeting the targets of Food Harvest 2020, we can create an additional 2,000 jobs and another €150m in exports. This is not just an aspiration for communities around the coast – it is an imperative.”
Shellfish farmers from Malin Head, Clew Bay to Roaringwater to Carlingford Lough were present at the national meeting which discussed issues of policy, marketing and food safety for the mussel, oyster, clams and other shellfish sectors. Minister for Agriculture, Marine and Food, Simon Coveney addressed the audience in a keynote speech in the morning.
The conference in Kinsale, which was opened by IFA Deputy President Eddie Downey, heard speakers from Bord Bia, the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, mediacontact.ie and a host of researchers and scientists from universities and public and private agencies speak on R+D, innovation and new technology.
The Irish Shellfish Association (ISA) is part of the IFA’s Aquaculture section and has been representing Irish shellfish farmers around the country’s 2,700 km of coastline since 1997.