Original publication: July 2018
Author: Eveline SMITH, under the supervision of Priit OJAMAA
Short link to this post: http://bit.ly/2Odpn2l
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This overview of the fisheries sector in the Republic of Ireland (henceforth: Ireland) provides information for the delegation of the PECH committee to the country (Cork, 17-19 September 2018).

Introduction

Figure 1: Ireland (island)Ireland is part of an island in the North Atlantic, which belongs geographically to Western Europe. The island is governed by Ireland and Northern Ireland. The land area of the island covers 70 280  with a coastline of 1 448 km. The western coastline borders with the Atlantic Ocean, whereas the south and east coastline borders with the Celtic Sea. Ireland has claimed its territorial seas (12 nm) and EEZ (200 nm). Approximately 4801,727 people lived in Ireland in 2018.[1]

Ireland is a parliamentary, representative democratic republic. The country is divided into 26 counties with Dublin as its capital. The President of the Republic of Ireland, M.D. Higgins, together with Prime Minister L.E. Varadkar, governs the state. The legislative branch consists of the parliament (Oireachtas) which is formed by the Senate (Seanad Éireann) and the House of Representatives (Dáil Éireann). Judges in the Supreme Court are appointed either by the President or on the advice of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet. Ireland joined the European Community in 1973 and became one of the first countries to adopt the euro in 1999. The country is not part of the Schengen area.

 

Seafood Industry

Fishing is predominantly concentrated on the western part of Ireland, since the main fishing grounds are in the Atlantic Ocean.[2] The seafood industry contributed €1.15 billion to the Irish gross domestic product

(GDP) in 2017, a 6,4% growth from 2016.[3] Overall, the Irish seafood industry is performing well. The Irish seafood industry is developing to meet the increasing demand for seafood. The growth of the industry is mainly export-led. France was the most important market for exports in 2017, accounting for over one quarter of the total value. Spain and the UK both accounted for over 10% of total export value.[4]

A number of potential serious challenges to the Irish seafood sector derive from the Brexit process with the issues of access to waters and quota share being the most important. Other issues include the implementation of the landing obligation and the transposition of the Community control system into Irish law

Key characteristics of the Irish seafood sector

The main Irish fishing grounds are located in the North Atlantic, the Irish Sea and the Celtic Sea. The total volume of landings at Irish ports in 2017 amounted 314,000 tonnes of fish. The total volume of landings has increased by 12% compared to 2016. The most important Irish fishing ports of 2017 were Killybegs and Castletownbere. That year Killybegs accounted for 149,800 tonnes of Irish and 42,400 tonnes of non-Irish landings, whereas 9,000 tonnes of Irish and 21,500 of non-Irish landings landed in Castletownbere.[5] The three most profitable species landed in Ireland in 2017 were mackerel, Dublin Bay prawn and horse mackerel.[6]

Catches and landings

The total volume of seafood landed and cultivated in Ireland amounted 361,000 tonnes in 2017, an 11% increase from the previous year. 87% of these landings consisted of wild-caught fish (314,000 tonnes). The rest consisted of farmed finfish and farmed shellfish (6% and 7% respectively). These figures include landings from both Irish and non-Irish vessels at Irish ports.[7] 63% of all fish landed in Ireland were pelagic species, whereas demersal species accounted for 24% of the landings in 2017.

The total value of seafood landed and cultivated in Ireland amounted to € 609 million in 2017, a 12% increase from the previous year. The value of wild-caught fish amounted to €401 million in 2017, of which Irish vessels landed €283 million. The rest came from non-Irish vessels. The top five most valuable species landed in 2017 were mackerel, Dublin Bay prawn, horse mackerel, monkfish and brown crab. The most valuable non-Irish landings comprised of hake, monkfish and megrim.

Ireland is subject to the landing obligation from the 1st of January 2019. The obligation will apply to all species subject to total allowable catches (TACs) in the North Western Waters. Bord Lascaigh Mhara, Irelands Seafood Development Agency, (BIM) and the Marine Institute point out that the implementation of this landing obligation poses difficulties for Ireland, which fisheries industry is characterised by multiple fishing gears and mixed fisheries types. In particular, preliminary studies of the above institutes show that maintaining the current FMSY indicators for 2020 in combination with the landing obligation will create serious choke species problems, in particular for the cod and whiting species. In addition, different discard bans rules in the North Western Waters after Brexit add further uncertainty, confusion and disruption to fishing.[8]

There are a number of flexibility measures available in tackling choke species, including de minimis discarding; discarding species with a high survivability rate; inter-species flexibility and year-to-year flexibility. Quota swaps between Member States with regard to potential choke scenarios have been assessed as a tool with limited scope. It is likely that a number of species will still pose serious choke problems even after all the above-mentioned solutions have been explored. Separately from the solutions that can be adopted in a discards plan, other legal instruments (such as in the end of year TAC and Quota Regulation) may also be required to alleviate the risk of choke situations. Member States will need to work with the Commission to address residual choke issues.

Figure 2: Catches by volume (tonnes) / Figure 3: Catches by value (€M)

Trade volumes and values

Ireland imported €335 million worth of seafood in 2017, of which 68% came from the UK. 143,800 tonnes of fish was imported by Ireland in 2017. The top five most valuable imported species were salmon, cod, shrimp and prawn, tuna, and marine animal feed ingredients. The growth of the Irish seafood market in 2017 was predominantly export-led. In total, 313,600 tonnes of fish was exported from Ireland in 2017. Ireland exported €666 million worth of seafood in 2017, a 10% export increase from 2016. The main export markets for Ireland are the EU27, followed by the UK, Asia and Africa.  The top five most valuable species exported are salmon, mackerel, crab, Dublin Bay prawn, and seaweeds and other algae.[9]

Fishing fleet

In 2017, the Irish fishing fleet registered 2050 vessels.[10] The fleet is characterised by six types of fishing vessels (see figure 4). The majority of the Irish fishing fleet consists of polyvalent general and potting vessels. This type of boats include small inshore vessels, that  fish up to 10 miles from the Irish coast, as well as medium to large offshore vessels, which mainly target whitefish, pelagic fish and bivalve molluscs. The specific fleet also targets bivalve molluscs, as well as aquaculture species. There is also the aquaculture fleet, which is used for the management, development and/or servicing of aquaculture areas. The refrigerated seawater pelagic fleet targets pelagic species such as herring, mackerel, horse mackerel, and blue whiting. Lastly, the beam trawler fleet operates mainly in inshore waters (the area up to 10 miles from the Irish coast) to catch flatfish.

Figure 4: The Irish Fishing Fleet

Employment 

9271 people were directly employed in the Irish seafood sector in 2017. A breakdown of this number indicates that 3361 people were employed in fisheries, 1912 in the aquaculture sector, and 3998 in the processing branch.[11] Employment in the Irish seafood sector is largely concentrated around its coastal communities. The dependency of these coastal communities on seafood employment differs per region (see figure 5).[12]  

Figure 5: Employment in the Irish seafood sector per region (2017)

[1] Worldmeters – Ireland population – http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/ireland-population/
[2] European Commission – FARNET – https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/fpfis/cms/farnet2/on-the-ground/country-factsheets/irish-clld-programme_en#group-factsheet-areas (the Irish CLLD Programme)
[3] Bord Lascaigh Mhara (Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency) – The business of seafood 2017. A snapshot of Ireland’s Seafood Sector – http://www.bim.ie/media/bim/content/7097-BIM-Business-of-Seafood-2017.pdf (p0).
[4] Bord Lascaigh Mhara (Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency) – The business of seafood 2017. A snapshot of Ireland’s Seafood Sector – http://www.bim.ie/media/bim/content/7097-BIM-Business-of-Seafood-2017.pdf (p4).
[5] Bord Lascaigh Mhara (Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency) – The business of seafood 2017. A snapshot of Ireland’s Seafood Sector – http://www.bim.ie/media/bim/content/7097-BIM-Business-of-Seafood-2017.pdf (p11).
[6] Bord Lascaigh Mhara (Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency) – The business of seafood 2017. A snapshot of Ireland’s Seafood Sector – http://www.bim.ie/media/bim/content/7097-BIM-Business-of-Seafood-2017.pdf (p11 and 12).
[7] Bord Lascaigh Mhara (Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency) – The business of seafood 2017. A snapshot of Ireland’s Seafood Sector – http://www.bim.ie/media/bim/content/7097-BIM-Business-of-Seafood-2017.pdf (p10).
[8] Bord Lascaigh Mhara (Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency) and Marine Institute – Assessment of the impacts of the Landing Obligation on Irish Vessels – http://www.bim.ie/media/bim/content/publications/Lo,report,2016_final.pdf; Bord Lascaigh Mhara (Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency) – Landing Obligation and Choke Species in Multispecies and Mixed fisheries, the North Western Waters – http://www.europarl.europa.eu/cmsdata/147263/Rihan%20Presentation_ep_nww_revised.pdf
[9] Bord Lascaigh Mhara (Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency) – The business of seafood 2017. A snapshot of Ireland’s Seafood Sector – http://www.bim.ie/media/bim/content/7097-BIM-Business-of-Seafood-2017.pdf (p26 t/m 29).
[10] Bord Lascaigh Mhara (Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency) – The business of seafood 2017. A snapshot of Ireland’s Seafood Sector – http://www.bim.ie/media/bim/content/7097-BIM-Business-of-Seafood-2017.pdf (p13).
[11] Bord Lascaigh Mhara (Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency) – The business of seafood 2017. A snapshot of Ireland’s Seafood Sector – http://www.bim.ie/media/bim/content/7097-BIM-Business-of-Seafood-2017.pdf (p7).
[12] Bord Lascaigh Mhara (Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency) – The business of seafood 2017. A snapshot of Ireland’s Seafood Sector – http://www.bim.ie/media/bim/content/7097-BIM-Business-of-Seafood-2017.pdf (p7).

Link to the full publication: http://bit.ly/617-493

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