irish marine annual report

The Annual Review and Outlook for Agriculture, Food & the Marine shows that exports for Irish Seafood totalled €577m in 2019

The Annual Review and Outlook for Agriculture, Food and the Marine has been released, providing up-to-date information and statistical analysis from a variety of sources, to provide a detailed overview of Ireland’s agri-food sector and an outlook for the future.

Under the Fisheries and Aquaculture section it reports that in 2019 Irish Seafood exports totalled €577 million.

195,000 tonnes or €275m worth of Total Allowable Catch was sectured for Ireland in 2020 and over 16,150 people are directly or indirectly employed in the Irish Seafood sector.

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According to the CSO the value of Irish seafood exports in 2019 was estimated to be in the region of €577 million, a slight increase on the value attained in 2018. The value of exports of salmon and mackerel, Ireland’s most valuable seafood exports, both increased in 2019 after challenging conditions in 2018. Salmon increased by 28% in value with a volume increase of 22%, while mackerel exports increased in value by 7% despite an 8% drop in volume.

The main EU markets, France, Spain, Italy, Poland and Germany account for approximately 55% (€315m) of total exports by value. 

The International market accounted for approximately 36% (€206 million) of total exports in 2019. Exports to the three main Asian markets (China, Republic of Korea and Japan) were stable in value terms in 2019 compared to 2018. These markets accounted for 14% (€81 million) of total seafood export values. The wider South East Asian markets (China, Republic of Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand) accounted for over 15% (€86m) of total export values in 2019. Nigeria is also an important market for Irish fish with exports of 33,660 tonnes in 2019, mostly of frozen mackerel and frozen blue whiting. While 17% of our fish exports by weight went to Nigeria the value was closer to 5%. In contrast almost 15% of our fish exports by weight went to France with the value representing 25% of total fish exports.

In the pelagic sector, where the main commercial pelagic species caught by Irish vessels include mackerel, herring, horse mackerel and blue whiting, a reduction of 20% in Ireland’s total allowable catch for mackerel had a direct impact on the volumes exported in 2019. However, prices and demand for Irish mackerel were strong particularly in Asia, where there was a shortage of stocks. The best performing pelagic markets in 2019 were in Asia and in Europe, while significant growth was seen in the UK and Middle East. Demand for Irish mackerel in China increased by around 61% in value during 2019. 

Export values and volumes of Irish shellfish fell in 2019 after a number of challenges affected production throughout the year. The Irish oyster sector had a bad year with export values and volumes decreasing by 14%. Exports of oysters to France and China declined significantly in 2019 with growth only seen in exports to the Netherlands and the United Kingdom; however these markets are relatively small. In 2019, salmon export values increased by 28% driven by a 22% increase in volume and further price increases.

The report says that one of the biggest challenges facing the Irish seafood industry in 2021 is Brexit with more than 70% of the total Irish fleet over 12 metres in length, both pelagic and whitefish, operating in UK waters.  Six fisheries including the high value prawn and mackerel fisheries, involving 173 of the largest Irish fishing trawlers would be most reliant on UK waters. Over a third of Irish landings come from the UK waters and for our most important stocks (mackerel and prawns) the figures are higher. Our fishing fleet is strongly dependent on access to fishing grounds in the Irish Sea, Celtic Sea and West of Scotland, which are wholly or partly within UK waters.

To read the full report click here.

Brian J McMullin Solicitors
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