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Minister Creed's remarks at launch of BIM Strategy, 10 May 2018

Added 29.06.18Statement of Strategy 2018 - 2020

Launch Event @ Cliff Townhouse

22 St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2

 

Speaking notes: Minister Michael Creed

  • Chairman of BIM, CEO, distinguished guests and friends, I’m particularly pleased to have the opportunity to launch BIM’s new corporate strategy here today. Thank you for the invitation and thank you for your presence.
  • As somebody ensconced in the food production and agri-sector on a personal, professional and political level, I have always had a huge empathy with the challenges, but also the very significant opportunity, presented by the Blue Economy.
  • The world’s population continues to increase rapidly and so too does the demand for reliable sources of protein. Seafood is the preferred choice for the rapidly expanding middle-class consumers in the Asia Pacific region, it continues to a part of the staple diet in Africa while in China alone in the last 25 years, seafood consumption per capita has trebled. 
  • As an island nation with a marine resource which is ten times larger than our land mass, we are in a prime position to capitalise on this considerable gap in the market to deliver what consumers want and need. This is clearly identified in the Government’s Food Wise 2025 report and please be assured I am fully committed to supporting and developing our Blue Economy. These are truly exciting times in the Irish seafood sector. We are expanding steadily and while I may be preaching to the converted in this room, there are real opportunities and a scope for sustainable growth like never before.

Business of Seafood

  • This strategy which we are launching today, follows closely on BIM’s recently published ‘Business of Seafood’ which reports that, for the first time in Irish history, seafood trade reached the €1 billion mark in 2017. That is a remarkable achievement and a testament to the trojan work which is spear-headed by the people present in this room, and others besides. More than 14,000 jobs are sustained in the sector, much of this work is in rural areas where other opportunities are very often, limited.
  • This strategy sets out how BIM support for the seafood sector will be delivered over the next three years and beyond. It will build on BIM’s long tradition of supporting and assisting Irish fisheries, which began some sixty-five years ago. The industry provides a vital and sustainable source of jobs and economic activity for fragile coastal communities bringing stability to areas where few other forms of industry can be established.
  • This is our third consecutive year of growth with value up 6.4% on 2016. This strong growth was driven by a 10% increase in net exports with the EU our single largest market worth €392 million. Contributing some €666 million to Irish exports in 2017, Irish fishing, fish farming and seafood processing is widely recognised as a sector with significant potential for further growth.
  • Here at home, we’re also beginning to turn to the sea more in terms of our diet. We’ve seen a 4% increase in domestic consumption worth some €429million.

Food Wise 2025

  • I am pleased to say that the seafood sector is being strongly supported by my Department and by this Government. ‘Food Wise 2025’, the joint industry and government ten-year strategy for the Irish food sector, outlines ambitious growth targets in Irish seafood and I am confident this new BIM strategy contains the right actions to deliver on this important agenda.
  • As I indicated at the outset, I fully recognise that there are challenges, both in the short and longer term, that the sector must confront and overcome, if it is to progress and eventually fulfil its potential.
  • These problems are not unique to Ireland and are common across the EU, which currently incurs some €17 billion annual trade deficit in terms of seafood. As a result, EU policy is highly supportive towards the development of indigenous European production.
  • In order to provide the investment required to achieve these ambitions, I am making available some €100 million to BIM through my Department’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Operational Programme, which is jointly funded by Government and the European Union. In 2018 alone, I am providing BIM with €21 million in EMFF Funds.  Those funds are enabling BIM to provide a suite of 13 support schemes for the fishing, aquaculture and processing sectors.  Through those EMFF schemes, seafood enterprises can get help with capital investment, innovation and new product development, marketing, training, business planning and so on.
  • BIM’s focus on Sustainability, Skills, Innovation, Competitiveness and Leadership is intrinsic to the long-term success of this sector. As global demand for seafood continues to grow, Ireland needs to meet the ever-changing needs of seafood consumers. If we invest in the right people, achieve excellence in our sustainability credentials and innovate to stay ahead of our competitors – Ireland will become an international leader in seafood as BIM clearly sets out in its new vision for the industry.
  • As the Irish seafood industry continues to face up to the challenges confronting it, including Brexit, this new BIM strategy will ensure Ireland’s Seafood Industry is benefiting from relevant services in key areas that will drive future growth. BIM, as Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency, has the expertise, clear strategy and financial supports available through the EMFF to enable this important industry to achieve further growth over the next three years.

Brexit

  • Fisheries has from the outset, been a high priority for Ireland in the Brexit negotiations, and so it will remain. I am determined to ensure that fisheries remain high on the Brexit agenda in the EU and that the interests of Ireland's fishing communities are fully safeguarded.
  • My continued objective is to ensure that the implications for fisheries are fully taken account of in the negotiations on the framework for a future EU-UK relationship. Ireland’s key priorities in this regard will be maintenance of current access to fishing grounds in the UK zone and protection of Ireland’s existing quota shares.
  • I am glad to say that Michel Barnier has concurred with our viewpoint that fisheries arrangements must be an integral part of the overall future relationship agreement. As a result, the negotiating guidelines for the future relationship - adopted by the European Council on the 23rd of March last - state that: "In the overall context of the FTA, existing reciprocal access to fishing waters and resources should be maintained".
  • In addition, for fisheries, the transition arrangements as agreed by both the EU 27 and the UK will involve no change to existing arrangements other than the fact that the UK will no longer be part of decision making bodies within the EU. The Common Fisheries Policy, in place since 2014, is due for review in 2022. 
  • Significantly more progress is needed on agreeing the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, including the backstop on avoiding a hard border, ahead of the June European Council. Michel Barnier underlined the need for substantive progress by June in his comments last week during his visit to Ireland and Northern Ireland.
  • The European Council guidelines in March were clear that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed and that negotiations can only progress as long as all commitments undertaken so far are respected in full. The European Council is therefore continuing to follow the negotiations closely and will return in particular to the remaining withdrawal issues, including the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, at its next meeting in June when it will assess if satisfactory progress has been made and it not, what consequences this will have for the overall negotiations.
  • Everything, including all elements of the Withdrawal Agreement and the framework for the future relationship should be wrapped up by October. This underlines the urgency of the work ahead in the coming weeks.
  • At home, our intensive preparations and contingency planning continues.
  • I continue to engage closely with the Irish fishing industry representatives. In fact, I met with the representatives at a meeting of the High Level Implementation Group on Food Wise 2025 this morning and I held a meeting with key stakeholders exactly three weeks ago alongside the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste to discuss Brexit before again meeting Mr Barnier in Dundalk on April 30th. I am pleased at the level of unity on these key issues both within Ireland and across the rest of the EU fishing industry.
  • Working together with the Barnier Task Force, this Government and I aim to ensure that fisheries are inextricably linked to overall future relationship negotiations and that all of our existing access rights and quota entitlements are fully protected.
  • By way of conclusion and as your Minister, I am very pleased with the commitment and vision set out by BIM in this strategy. I fully support and wish the agency every success with its implementation.

ENDS