The Irish fish and shellfish farming industry has enjoyed a steady output of over €100 million per year for the past three years, according to the “Status of Aquaculture Report - 2005” launched today (Thursday 30th November) in Oranmore, Co. Galway.
Production last year reached 44,666 tonnes of shellfish and 15,384 tonnes of finfish, including salmon, trout and Arctic char. Other developments in recent years have been the development of the organic salmon market, producing high quality fish to strict organic guidelines which command a premium price.
The report is a joint collaboration between the three main state agencies involved in the development, monitoring and scientific support of the fish and shellfish farming industry in Ireland – An Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), the Marine Institute and Taigdhe Mara Teo. The report also describes in detail the Marine Institute’s 2005 monitoring results from biotoxins, fish health, residue testing, sea bottom surveys and sea lice inspections carried out in support of the industry, the consumer and the environment.
The report highlights the resilience of the fish farming sector over the years, in spite of below-cost selling by salmon producers in Chile and Norway, and other problems, Monitoring and food safety were key elements of the State assistance to the aquaculture industry last year.
BIM’s annual employment survey on the fish farming industry, which is quoted in the report, shows that there were over 730 fulltime jobs, 540 part time jobs and 364 casual workers, creating a Full Time Job Equivalent of over 1,000 positions and a real impact in small communities around the coast.
Regarding the development of new species, the first trial of marine fish farming for a species other than salmon and trout took place in 2005 in Galway, when juvenile cod that had been cultured from eggs to 100 grams weight at the Martin Ryan Institute Carna laboratory hatchery were successfully transferred to sea in February at a former salmon farm in Beirtragbui Bay, Connemara. In spite of an algal bloom in June, the remaining fish survived the warm summer waters and continued to feed and grow well. A second batch of smaller cod were transferred to sea in a more sheltered site in the same bay in October and November.