Ireland records rise in farmed seafood exports in 2021

Ireland’s farmed and wild seafood economy grew by 15% last year to a record €1.26m (£1.06m), according to the latest data from BIM, the country’s seafood industry development agency.

The growth of the sector has defied the double challenge of Covid and Brexit.

Ireland is known for its organic salmon and was able to increase its exports to this market last year, although revenues fell by 14%, largely due to increased international supply from competing countries such as Norway and Scotland.

Total salmon exports totaled 11,400 tonnes and rose in value by 13% to €129m (£1.09m). Exports of farmed mussels rose 10% and were worth €10m, while sales of oysters jumped 40% to €35m (£29.45m).

BIM said the reopening of restaurant sectors internationally has led to strong price growth for shellfish species such as crab, lobster, prawns and razor clams – with prices increasing by more than 20%.

BIM Managing Director Jim O’Toole said the sector has proven to be very resilient and innovative: “The key insights from this report are the sector’s success in both identifying and creating opportunities in different markets, as well as an increase in value for certain categories.

While Brexit and the additional impacts of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (agreed between the EU and the UK) have reduced quotas for key species, government support as well as private investment has helped mitigate some of these impacts.

The industry continues to adapt, for example in the seafood technology sector, there are now over 50 companies employing over 700 people in disciplines such as engineering, fintech and marketing and we’ve seen turnover more than double in recent years.

He added: “While we have experienced significant growth over the past year, further challenges are now being faced with rising fuel, energy and material costs as a result of the conflict in Ukraine. Support for the industry to help weather this economic shock will undoubtedly be needed.

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