Farming the blue pasture – developing Irish Aquaculture

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Farming the blue pasture - developing Irish Aquaculture

IRISH AQUACULTURE IS VALUED AT €117 MILLION AT THE FARM GATE AND EMPLOYS OVER 1800 PEOPLE 

(BIM AQUACULTURE SURVEY 2013).

Sustainably developing the farming of fish and shelfish is a cornerstone policy at local, national, European and Global levels. Aquaculture in a rapidly changing socio-economic and environmentally conscious society. There is an exponential growth in demand for seafood to meet rising population levels, the emergence of a more health conscious consumer, a need to fulfill our protein requirements from the most efficient and sustainable sources and the economic necessity of finding local employment to keep rural and coastal communities alive and thriving in the modern world. Irish aquaculture, though small, is export driven, dependent on innovation and quality and an important provider of jobs and revenue.

 

HARNESSING OUR OCEAN WEALTH

HOOW, is the Government’s key national marine development policy with three over-arching priorities:

• “Sustainable economic growth of our marine/maritime sectors” • “Increase the contribution to our national GDP” • “Deliver a business friendly yet robust governance, policy and planning framework” It confidently proposes necessary targets for the aquaculture sector to contribute to these priorities, forming a package with other rural development policies to reinvigorate the economy, increase jobs and stem emigration: • “There is significant scope to expand Ireland’s aquaculture industry, with increases expected from both conventional aquaculture and a new deep sea salmon farming initiative, amounting to a 78% increase in volume of production by 2020… …The seafood sector employs close to 11,000 people, primarily in peripheral coastal locations. With increased economic activity this is expected to reach 14,000 in 2020” (HOOW, p14) • “An effective licensing system was viewed by many submissions as the single most important contribution the public sector can make to the development of the marine sector. Numerous submissions regarded the current licensing systems as a barrier to growth (e.g. foreshore and aquaculture licensing and planning permission). It was felt that such systems must be fit-for-purpose, quick, consistent, efficient and transparent in order to attract investment.”

FOOD HARVEST 2020 – POTENTIAL FOR AQUACULTURE PRODUCTION.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine’s own policy guidance document covering the entire food agri and marine food sector, states: “It is widely acknowledged that world seafood demand is expected to continue growing at a pace which cannot be met by wild fishery products. This deficit will likely be met by aquaculture production and the Cawley Report recognised that the aquaculture sector offers substantial potential for increased production of seafood. Ireland’s total aquaculture production is currently fifth highest of the EU-27 member States and the FAO predicts that Ireland will see a 61% increase in aquaculture production by 2030 – the second highest level of all EU MS. This potential is reinforced by the fact that the Irish sector contributes just 38% of the value of total primary production while the world-wide trend is close to half of all fish supplies come from aquaculture and that average worldwide growth in the sector is between 6-8% per annum . It is possible, therefore, that farmed production may increase by 1 Mt by 2030, exceeding 2.1 Mt by 2015 and reaching 2.5 Mt in 2030 from current levels of 1.8mt in 2008. “The aquaculture sector offers sustainable opportunities for employment. The sector must be responsive and adaptable to consumer demands. An analysis of BIM production and employment survey data has shown that every additional 70 tonnes of finfish and shellfish produced generates one full time equivalent job. On this basis the incremental output projected in the National Seafood Programme 2007-2013 of 47,000 tonnes would directly generate 670 FTE jobs and using the ESRI multiplier for aquaculture, a further 845 jobs indirectly, resulting in an increase in 1500 jobs overall in the sector, significantly in the economically disadvantaged and remote coastal regions. At present day prices, the incremental value at first point of sale of this increased production is approximately €160 million. A further uplift of at least an additional € 40 million will arise from simple value added activities to this raw material. The vast bulk of this output (circa 80%) is exported. Because it is a natural resource base activity, there are very small import costs associated with the sector so its value can be almost entirely set on the positive side of the trade balance.”

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations

 

Since the mid-1990s, aquaculture has been the engine driving growth in total fish production as global capture production has levelled off. Its contribution to world total fish production climbed steadily from 20.9 percent in 1995 to 32.4 percent in 2005 and 40.3 percent in 2010. Its contribution to world food fish production for human consumption was 47 percent in 2010 compared with only 9 percent in 1980… The global population is increasing and, in order to maintain at least the current level of per capita consumption of aquatic foods, the world will require an additional 23 million tonnes thereof by 2020. This additional supply will have to come from aquaculture (FAO State of World Fisheries & Aquaculture 2012)

The European Commission

Strategic Guidelines on EU Aquaculture (COM 2013/229) To boost the development of EU aquaculture, the European Commission has issued strategic guidelines, thereby cooperating with Member States and stakeholders in overcoming the challenges facing the sector. The EU aquaculture sector has a significant growth potential and can help to spare overexploited sea resources… …Today, 10% of the EU seafood consumption comes from aquaculture, 25% from EU fisheries and 65% from imports from third countries (including both fisheries and aquaculture); the gap between consumption and production of our capture fisheries has been steadily growing in the last years, and aquaculture can help filling it. Each percentage point of current EU consumption produced internally through aquaculture could help create between 3,000 and 4,000 full-time jobs. European Commission Natura 2000 policy “Guidelines on Aquaculture in Natura 2000 areas” represents the European Commission’s views on the compatibility of marine farming with protection of species and habitats. The Guidelines “illustrate how nature protection provisions can be compatible with sustainable aquaculture development.”

Goals for Irish Aquaculture

Export By exporting 70% of production, the aquaculture sector is an important net contributor to the national balance sheet. A low reliance on input imports and relatively labour intensive production of raw material which can be further processed domestically for sales abroad make it an ideal sector for development. New market opportunities are developing such as organic production, growing Asian markets and innovation through value added processing. “Ireland’s total aquaculture production is currently fifth highest of the EU-27 member States and the FAO predicts that Ireland will see a 61% increase in aquaculture production by 2030 – the second highest level of all EU MS. This potential is reinforced by the fact that the Irish sector contributes just 38% of the value of total primary production while the worldwide trend is close to half of all fish supplies come from aquaculture and that average worldwide growth in the sector is between 6-8% per annum . It is possible, therefore, that farmed production may increase by 1 Mt by 2030, exceeding 2.1 Mt by 2015 and reaching 2.5 Mt in 2030 from current levels of 1.8mt in 2008.” Food Harvest 2020 Background document.

Economic Analysis

“Irish seafood exports are just over €800m and forecasts suggest this could get to €1bn by the end of the decade. That seems to be a highly conservative figure. Dairy exports presently are almost €3bn, for example. Why can’t we plan for an industry that grows three-fold over the next decade by targeting fast-growing economies with high quality produce?” Joe Gill, Irish Examiner, 2nd Oct 2013.

“Based on current labour productivity, each percentage point of current EU consumption produced internally through aquaculture would help create between 3,000 and 4,000 full-time jobs. This figure confirms that, although aquaculture represents a relatively small part of the EU economy, it has the potential to boost growth and jobs in EU coastal and inland areas. A close cooperation with the processing industry can further improve job creation and competitiveness in both sectors. Aquaculture is one of the pillars of the EU’s Blue Growth Strategy and its development can contribute to the Europe 2020 Strategy.”

Maria Damanaki, Commissioner for Fisheries & Maritime Affairs, COM(2013) 229 final “Communication From The Commission To The European Parliament, The Council, The European Economic And Social Committee And The Committee Of The Regions – Strategic Guidelines for the sustainable development of EU aquaculture”

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