28 November 2018
Veteran seafood professional Margaret Downey-Harrington from Castletownbere, West Cork has been honoured for her contribution to the Irish seafood industry at the BIM National Seafood Awards. Margaret’s career has spanned more than 60 years and she is a founding member of Mná na Mara, the first national network for women in fisheries. The awards included finalists from fishing, aquaculture, seafood processing and seafood retail and took place in Dublin’s Christ Church Cathedral last night (Tuesday 27 November).
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD attended the awards and said:
“The strong focus on sustainability, innovation and upskilling within Ireland’s seafood sector is helping businesses to connect with the vast and diverse market opportunities throughout the world. The demand for seafood and moreover for high quality seafood places Ireland in prime position. The women and men being honoured here tonight are the driving force behind the successes of the industry. Because of them the ambitious targets set out in FoodWise 2025 look set to being achieved.”
The biennial awards are dedicated to recognising the achievements of individuals and businesses revolutionising the Irish seafood sector. Speaking on the night, BIM CEO Jim O’Toole said:
”BIM’s ambition is for Ireland to become a global leader in sustainable seafood. Over 14,500 work in the sector. It contributes €1.15 billion to our economy and is vital to many of our coastal communities. Tonight’s winners demonstrate the commitment and consistently high standard that’s driving the reputation of Irish seafood in Ireland and internationally.”
Winner of the BIM Lifetime Achievement Award, Margaret Downey-Harrington said:
“Early on we [Mná na Mara] procured the availability of postal votes for fishermen. Postal votes had been there all of the time but were exclusively for the diplomatic core. They weren’t open to the general public. We wanted to get them for our fishermen because inevitably a referendum or voting day would take place during the week and of course the boats would be out fishing. The fishermen were losing out on having a say in political arguments. And we [Mná na Mara] got it and in getting it, it became open to everyone which is a good thing.”
BIM Best Student Kate Dempsey completed a higher diploma in Aquabusiness in IT Carlow earlier this year. She is Director of Irish Mussel Seed Company and has recently established an aquaculture analytics company.
“My interest in aquaculture and seafood production really comes from a history of fishing. I’m from a fishing family in Arklow. I went to college and studied law and then came back home and realised there was really very little left in terms of activity in the harbour that I was from. And so I decided I would create a new company and a new business to promote seafood development on the east coast. I want to see coastal communities thrive, particularly rural communities like the one that I’m from.”
The Awards included four categories to reflect BIM’s strategic priorities; Innovation, Sustainability, Competitiveness and Skills. Other winners on the night included the following:
- Best in Aquaculture Innovation - Moyasta Oysters Ltd, Kilrush, Clare
- Best in Fishing Innovation - Galway Bay Inshore Fishermen’s Assoc, Bohermore, Galway
- Best in Processing Innovation - Ocean Veg Ireland Ltd, Ballycastle, Antrim
- Best in Sustainable Aquaculture - Marine Harvest Ireland, Letterkenny, Donegal
- Best in Sustainable Fishing - Alex Crowley, MFV Emma Lou T450, Cahersiveen, Kerry
- Best in Sustainable Processing - Conemara Seafoods, Westport, Mayo
- Aquaculture Enterprise of the Year - Bells Isle Seafoods Ltd, Donegal Town, Donegal
- Fishing Enterprise of the Year - McBride Fishing Company Ltd, Letterkenny, Donegal
- Processing Enterprise of the Year - Atlantis Seafoods Ltd, Rosslare Road, Co. Wexford
- Best Seafood Retailer (Multiple category) - Dunnes Stores, Swords, Dublin
- Best Seafood Retailer (Independent category) - Galway Bay Seafoods Ltd., New Docks, Galway
The trophies for this year’s awards carried the theme of sustainability and were made using the fish sculptures that featured in the BIM Sustainable Seafood Garden, which won overall prize at Bloom earlier this year.
Jim O’Toole, CEO BIM presents veteran seafood professional Margaret Downey-Harrington with the Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution to the Irish seafood industry. Pictured l-r: Jim O’Toole, CEO BIM, Margaret Downey-Harrington and Mr. Michael Creed TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.