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Coveney outlines "Real potential for jobs and added sales in seafood processing sector"

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, today expressed his confidence that the Irish seafood processing sector has a "secure and viable future as long as we continue to innovate, differentiate and develop new market driven products."

Minister Coveney was addressing the AGM of the Irish Fish Producers and Exporters Association (IFPEA) where he outlined his expectations for the future of the Seafood processing sector, building on the good performance of 2010 which saw exports increase by 13 per cent on 2009 to €374 million, with total sales of over €700 million.

The Minister said that the Food Harvest 2020 strategy targeted an increase in the annual sales value from the Irish seafood sector from €700 million to €1 billion by 2020 and an increase in employment from 11,000 to 14,000 in sea fisheries and aquaculture, with a 78 per cent increase in aquaculture volume production.

Minister Coveney welcomed the opportunity to address the seafood processors as he believed "that indigenous food processors of whom seafood processors are an integral part will be a central plank in the road to economic recovery for Ireland."

The Minister said that "the fundamentals of this sector remain solid, the global and national demand for seafood continues to grow, presenting real opportunities for Irish seafood processors."

He went on to say that "the range of supports available to the industry from BIM, Enterprise Ireland and Bord Bia aligned to BIM’s carefully constructed strategy “Delivering on the Potential of Irish Seafood" creates the framework to deliver additional added value and up to 600 additional jobs in the sector.”

In particular the Minister took great encouragement that 18 companies had subscribed to BIM’s Seafood Processing Business Investment Scheme which focuses on modernisation, expansion and adding value through new product development, innovation and product quality.

He said "I have made €1.5m available for this scheme in 2011, which when combined with private investment will come to a total of €6m. This is a show of confidence by these companies in their own industry and I hope to be in a position to announce the details of these projects very shortly."

The Minister also took the opportunity to update the meeting on the status of the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy and the ongoing international dispute on the management arrangements for mackerel.

Referring to the international discord with Iceland and the Faroe islands on the management of mackerel the Minister stressed that "I have been pressing the Commission to introduce strong measures including the possibility of trade sanctions against both parties. Their actions to date have a real potential to irreparably damage this stock which is of paramount importance to our pelagic fishing fleet, our seafood processors and the communities which depend on them for their economic and social wellbeing. I will continue to work closely with relevant colleagues within the EU and with Commissioner Damanaki to bring an end to the current unacceptable situation."

Date Released: 26 May 2011