Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), the Irish Sea Fisheries Board, is proud to sponsor the annual Skipper Expo International trade show on the 6th and 7th March in the Galway Bay Hotel, Salthill. With over 100 exhibiting companies, the show attracts fishermen and seafood representatives from around the coast and provides BIM with the opportunity to meet and inform industry about key initiatives that will support and assist the livelihoods of fishermen. The event also highlights the importance of the Irish fishing sector to Ireland’s economy.
Employing more than 11,000 people predominantly in coastal communities around Ireland and generating more than €800 million in seafood sales annually; seafood is a vital part of Ireland’s overall food portfolio as BIM’s Chairman, Kieran Calnan explains; ‘We believe there is significant potential for the Irish Seafood Sector in the years ahead. BIM’s five year corporate strategy sets out this potential with clear and ambitious targets of €1 billion in seafood sales and 1,200 new jobs by 2017. This is an exciting time for our Irish fishing fleet with Irish seafood in great demand worldwide and new innovative developments in traceability, gear technology and processing ensuring we are delivering a premium quality seafood product to our key markets’
The safety and appropriate training of fishing and aquaculture personnel will once again be a key theme for BIM at the 2015 show with daily safety demonstrations in the hotel pool organised in partnership with the RNLI. Fishing is now widely recognised as the most hazardous industry to work in, with higher fatalities than either agriculture or construction. Stability issues resulting in the vessel taking in water and sinking is the main cause of accidents and in many cases, the fishermen involved were not wearing any form of Personal Flotation Device (PFD).
In addition to the safety demonstrations at the Expo, BIM will be promoting and taking bookings for places on the BIM Enhanced Safety Training Scheme which provides grant-aid towards the cost of new compact Personal Flotation Devices with an integrated Personal Locator Beacon. BIM’s Interim CEO, Michael Keatinge explains how the new scheme is gaining traction with industry; ‘The safety of our fishermen is always a key priority for BIM and in addition to our range of training courses for the fishing sector, we are pleased to announce that 585 fishermenhave completed our Enhanced Safety Training programme and over 800 applications have been received for Personal Flotation Devices with integrated PLB’s. This new compact PFD, if serviced and worn correctly, will provide fishermen with life-saving equipment on board. I would like to encourage fishermen to ensure they have completed the requisite safety training and to stay safe at sea’
BIM will continue to deliver a unique training service to industry this year with 2,000 training places available in over 50 locations at our National Fisheries Colleges in Greencastle and Castletownbere and from our mobile Coastal Training Units.
Inshore Fisheries is another key focus for BIM at the Expo this year and following many challenging years for the sector, there are now a number of initiatives in place that will assist in developing a more cohesive industry that will be best placed to take advantage of future opportunities. The Fisheries Local Action Groups,a community led initiative, has already been very successful in empowering fishing reliant communities to adopt and seek financial support through the programme for key projects in their area. In partnership with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, BIM also coordinates the Regional Inshore Fisheries Forums or RIFFs that are designed to find solutions to regional issues in the inshore sector and through greater cooperation and representation on a National Committee (National Inshore Fisheries Forum) to take advantage of opportunities for growth and the future sustainability of stocks. Collectively, these initiatives will all contribute to an increase in revenue for our fishing reliant coastal communities