Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mr. Simon Coveney, T.D. recently launched the community led development strategy -‘Castletownbere – An Economic Survey to Determine the Level of Seafood Activity and Establish its Economic Importance for the Region’ at the Irish South and West Fishermen’s Producer Organisation’s offices in Castletownbere on the 30th April.
The report facilitated by BIM is the result of a collaborative action by local stakeholders, chaired by Eibhlin O’Sullivan (Irish South and West Fishermen’s Producer Organisation (IS&WFPO) with the assistance of Frank Fleming (consultant to the IS&WFPO), and co-ordinated by Rod Cappell (Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management Ltd)
The report details qualitative and quantative information on the value that fishing contributes to the town directly and indirectly through ancillary services. Despite the current recession, fishing has helped to sustain the local economy and the report aims to build on these resources to develop further opportunities to build revenue and job creation.
Minister Coveney welcomed the report; ‘I would like to congratulate and recognise the hard work that has gone into the compilation of this very detailed report on Castletownbere. As Ireland’s largest whitefish port, we are all aware of the integral part the town plays in our fishing industry but it is inspiring to see that local community representatives are now looking to further develop ways to grow the fishing and aquaculture output in the area with a view to generating increased revenue and employment’
The report details how the fish catching and processing sectors in Castletownbere account for over half (54%) of the town’s economic activity (the total economic activity for the town is an estimated €146 million). With the inclusion of aquaculture and ancillary sectors, this rises to 86% fisheries-related turnover with the induced spend by employees of these sectors making a substantial contribution to the service and retail sector of the town. Local companies supply oil to the local fleet, foreign fleet and also to vessels based outside of Castletownbere. The total value of the ancillary sector, based on local fleet sales, is estimated to be €19 million (17% of total turnover).
The population of Castletownbere is estimated to be between 900 and 1,000. In terms of employment, 660 jobs representing 81% of the employment in Castletownbere, are related to fishing. This remarkably high level of dependency has been sustained in the area throughout the year as fish is landed from a wide range of fisheries.
Minister Coveney continued; ‘Adding value to fish landed in Castletownbere is derived exclusively from fish caught by the local fleet. For every €1 million landed by the fleet, a further €2.12 million is created by the processing and ancillary sectors. If we can increase this processing capability to include foreign landings, the area will substantially benefit and we are currently working with industry to achieve this’
A number of key actions are outlined in the report including:
- Improved co-operation in the catching sector
- New gear adaptations and techniques
- Tuna processing
- Surimi processing of boarfish as well as other human consumption options
- Frozen prawns at sea brand
- Greater differentiation of product in the market place
- Explore the potential for adding value from foreign landings
- Increase aquaculture development and support including processing.
The report proposes that a local stakeholder group is tasked to implement the actions set out in the report.