IFA’s shellfish farming sector Chairman, Michael Mulloy, said today that the latest report by the EPA showing a dramatic increase in breaches of sewage treatment regulations around the coast must be acted upon immediately if Ireland is to retain its reputation for safe quality seafood.
Michael Mulloy said, “There has to be clear recognition that our coastline is an extremely important area for quality food production. Irish shellfish products have an enviable reputation in global export markets. The quality and service provided by the shellfish sector is also recognised in the home market, which has shown rapid expansion in recent years.
“The shellfish industry provides opportunities for more than 2,000 people around the coast to live and work in areas that have few alternative employment prospects. A huge amount of investment has been made in supporting regulatory and physical infrastructures to ensure that consumers have full confidence in our products. The lack of investment in waste water treatment plants highlighted by this report totally undermines years of good work by the shellfish industry and many dedicated people and is a huge disappointment and concern for IFA members.
“As our members have forged new alliances selling seafood to Asia, where standards are very black and white in terms of any contaminants, one look at the map will generate a massive amount of enquiries this morning and the industry needs answers as to when this situation is going to be tackled.”
The IFA shellfish farmer’s leader said that the government must support the industry at European level in seeking specific water quality standards within the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. “The Commission has been trying to avoid being prescriptive about limits on key indicators of pollution in the Directive but there is an opportunity now for Ireland to lead the way by insisting on limits to ensure that public and private water companies are forced to continuously improve and monitor their systems of discharge to sea.
“Irish mussel and oyster producers are in the frontline when it comes to both monitoring pollution and are being hit by the consequences of neglect. We continue to campaign on raw sewage issues because our livelihoods, our customers’ health and the future for many remote coastal areas depends on clean water. This must be a national priority now.”