4 March 2011
Bord Iascaigh Mhara's chief executive today (Friday 4 March) opened the Irish Skipper Expo in Galway hitting a promising note for the future of Ireland’s seafood industry. Jason Whooley, chief executive of Ireland's development agency for the sea fisheries sector outlined the very real potential for the seafood sector which is on target to generate 1 billion euro in sales and create an additional 3,000 jobs in this important indigenous industry by 2020.
Speaking at the opening of the two-day Expo, which attracts key players from the Irish and UK seafood industries each year, Mr. Whooley acknowledged the many difficulties facing those in the industry, particularly increasingly high fuel oil prices and restrictive quotas, however he firmly pointed to the seafood sector as 'an industry that has significant growth potential'.
'The inescapable fact is that seafood, a raw material which so many fishermen here today have control over actually makes the fisherman the most important link in the seafood industry chain. The resource that fishermen are sitting on is becoming increasingly valuable and by seeing themselves as part of an overall chain, major business potential will begin to become clear.' said Mr. Whooley. 'If we can begin to create a shift in focus from being a 'stand alone' fisherman to seeing ourselves as a 'supplier' selling his seafood to a major international market that has huge demand for this product, the opportunities for maximising the return to fishermen become more tangible.
Fishermen have to begin to see their livelihood as a business with major potential. The traditional routes for fishermen to bring their products to market have to be looked at in light of developing global trends if Ireland is to remain a strong player in the world seafood market. BIM are keen to begin this debate and assist our industry to make the right decisions to ensure they don't see this major business potential lost.'This years Irish Skipper Expo is set to attract over 5,000 fishermen and their families and plays host to well over 100 exhibitors. In addition renowned photographer and star of 'The Deadliest Catch', Corey Arnold will present some of his work. BIM will be running seminars during the Expo, which will include an overview of technical conservation measures being implemented by the development agency in co-operation with fishermen. Irish Fishermen are increasingly proactive in adopting these measures and modifying their fishing gear to reduce environmental impact and improve sustainability.