Press Relsease: Food Security Threat as Seafood Sector Faces Shutdown

Traditional Fish and Chips may not be on Irish Restaurants Summer Menus

Rising fuel prices are crippling the Irish Seafood sector, including fishermen, aquaculture producers and fish processors. That’s according to Aodh O Donnell, chief executive of the Irish Fish Producers Organisation (IFPO), who says the crisis is a threat to food security. 

The entire Irish Seafood Sector are calling on the Government to act now to claim available EU funds to compensate the seafood sector and get the situation under control. 

Patrick Murphy of the South and West says eight Industry sector representative groups from aquaculture, fishing, fish processing and coastal community bodies have come together to call for urgent Government action. These include the IFPO, the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association (IFPEA), the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation (IS&WFPO), the Irish Farmers’ Association aquaculture division, the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation (KFO), the Irish Islands Marine Resource Organisation (IIMRO), the Irish South and East Fish Producers Organisation (IS&EFPO) and Ireland’s seven Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAGs).

 As CEO or the seafood processors, Brendan Byrne of the IFPEA says the European Commission adopted a ‘Temporary Crisis Framework’ for the seafood sector on 23rd March. “This was to enable Member States to use the flexibility of State aid rules, to compensate for high energy prices.

“In addition to this, just two days later, the commission activated a crisis mechanism to grant financial compensation for lost income and additional costs, because of seafood market disruption. It was activated under the umbrella of the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF. The EMFAF crisis mechanism is a temporary measure and applies retrospectively as of 24th February 2022 and will be in place until the end of 2022.

The Irish Government has abjectly failed to act, despite jobs already being lost says Enda Conneely of IIMRO. ‘’This is despite a desperate plea from all sectors of the Irish seafood industry, and a clear time limit for access to these EU funds from the EU’’. 

Teresa Morrissey, IFA Aquaculture Executive says the seafood sector has a crucial role in the Irish economy. “The Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) Business of Seafood report for clearly shows the vital importance of the seafood industry to the economy of our coastal communities.  Irish seafood is worth €1.25 Billion to the Irish economy. It provides over 16,000 direct jobs across all seafood sectors. These jobs are mainly located in coastal and peripheral areas. So, any job losses will hit hardest at our coastal and maritime communities.”

John Lynch of the Irish South and East points out that “The Irish Government has failed to activate the funding made available by the EU for the seafood industry. “Meanwhile French, Spanish and many of our fellow  EU compatriots who fish our seas are receiving targeted benefits to aid their seafood sectors to help them to continue to operate.”

“We need to prevent a wipe out of the seafood industry which threatens our ability to make a significant contribution to EU food security. In order to do this, we must be on a level playing field with our EU counterparts.” 

Patrick Murphy sums up ‘’We have a united Irish seafood industry of Aquaculture, Fishing and Fish Processing Industries backed up by our 7 coastal communities volunteer Organisation FLAGs. Together we demand that the Irish Government act now. The Minister for the Marine must activate the provision granted by the EU Commission to release essential funds immediately’’.  

Note to editors.

  • Irish seafood producers have been experiencing severe increases in the cost of inputs over the past number of months. 
  • This has reached an unsustainable level since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 
  • The sanctions imposed arising from the Ukrainian crisis have created a shortage of fuel and resulting in increased energy costs 
  • This has led to increased costs of fuel and general transport, increased costs of fish feed, and increased costs of electricity. As aquaculture, fishing, and fish processing organisations, we believe the viability of our operations and companies are now under significant threat.
  • Numerous operators in our coastal communities are struggling due to the rampant inflation pressures, on fuel and energy, so critical for the continuing operation of our seafood industries.

The seven organisations who have come together here to call for the Government to draw down available EU funds are: 

  1. The Irish Fish Producers Organisation (IFPO) is the longest established fish producer’s organisation in the State and represent fish producers across the Republic of Ireland.
  2. The Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association (IFPEA), represent fish processors and exporters right throughout Ireland.
  3. The Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation (IS&WFPO), who represent fishermen in the south and west coast of Ireland.
  4. The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) aquaculture division, who represent all sectors of the Irish aquaculture industry
  5. The Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation (KFO), a fish producers organisation and representative body based in Killybegs, Co Donegal.
  6. The Irish South and East Fish Producers Organisation (ISEFPO), who represent fish producers primarily based in the south and east coast of Ireland
  7. The Irish Islands Marine Resource Organisation (IIMRO), who represent Irish island communities across the marine sector 
  8. FLAGs is focused on community-led development to enhance the economic opportunities and social sustainability of Fisheries and Aquaculture dependent areas. Each FLAG has, through a process of public consultation developed a Local development Strategy, aimed at supporting job creation, adding value, promoting innovation as well as enhancing environmental assets and promoting each area’s maritime cultural heritage.