20th January

Shellfish producers slam level of sewage discharge

EPA Urban waste water report for 2016Irish shellfish producers have called for action on what they say is ‘a shocking report’ from the EPA on raw sewage discharges to sea.

IFA’s shellfish farming sector chairman, Michael Mulloy, said the report, which shows a dramatic increase in breaches of sewage treatment regulations around the coast, “must be acted upon immediately” if Ireland is to retain its reputation for safe quality seafood.

Read more: Shellfish producers slam level of sewage discharge

Sea trout collapse: a complicated issue

Martin Jaffa

In May 1989, many of the sea trout smolts returning early to their native rivers along parts of Ireland’s west coast after only a short time at sea were emaciated, and the flesh of others was white rather than pink. As to why these fish were starving and unable to find food are questions that have never been answered.

Aquaculture sea lice Bellacraher GF

Sea cages in Bealacragher Bay near Mulranny, Co Mayo

That same year, a population collapse occurred in most mid-western sea trout fisheries although most populations had been in slow decline for many years.

Read more: Sea trout collapse: a complicated issue

Irish shellfish safety reporting goes live

The Marine Institute - as the EU designated national reference laboratory for shellfish toxins and shellfish microbiology in Ireland - has launched a shellfish safety website. Incorporating user-friendly info-graphics and maps, the site hosts information on recent trends analysis as well as current status of shellfish production areas.

MI shellfish safety website

The Institute carries out a year-round national testing programme to ensure all shellfish are safe before being placed on the market for human consumption.

"With over one hundred coastal aquaculture production areas farming a variety of shellfish species, and many more offshore areas being fished commercially, it is essential that an efficient and accurate method of communicating these test results is in place," explains Joe Silke, manager of shellfish safety at the Marine Institute.

The open status of shellfish production areas is necessary before product can be placed on the market. This open status depends on clear tests being obtained for a comprehensive range of shellfish toxins; harmful algal species from water samples must also be tested on an ongoing basis. Microbiological classification status is assigned on the basis of ongoing testing.

Read more: Irish shellfish safety reporting goes live

Increase in Irish aquaculture production

Irish aquaculture production topped 44,000 tonnes in 2016 – a 9% increase in volume over the previous year which translates to a first point-of-sale value of €167m and accounts for 1,900 jobs, up 6%, according to the 2017 BIM Annual Aquaculture Survey.

BIM 2017 Aquaculture Survey

Mussel farming. Photo courtesy SFPA

In 2016, the survey notes that Gigas oyster production at 10,000 tonnes accounted for 25% of Ireland’s overall aquaculture production – up 11% on 2015. Even more significant however was the increase in value of this species over the previous year – up from €35m to €41m. In value terms, Gigas oysters now account for 74% of Ireland’s shellfish aquaculture.

Read more: Increase in Irish aquaculture production

Aquaculture licensing in Ireland requires 'root and branch' reform

'Root and branch' reform of the aquaculture licence application process is necessary, according to a report (Review of the Aquaculture Licensing Process) published by the Independent Aquaculture Licence Review Committee.

The reform needs to be 'comprehensive in scope' and to focus on 'immediate actions which can produce results in the short term as well as initiatives which will bear fruit in the longer term'.

Leeane 2017

Killary Fjord, Co Galway. Action plan prosposes 24 recommendations to increase Ireland's aquaculture output by 45,000 tonnes. Photo G Mills 

It concludes that an implementation strategy 'will assign responsibility for recommendations, accountability and set milestones for delivery and identify the necessary resources to support the implementation process'.

Read more: Aquaculture licensing in Ireland requires 'root and branch' reform

Major growth potential for Irish farmed salmon

In 2014, wild capture fisheries landed 93m globally; this figure has remained stable for over 25 years. 

Over the same duration, global per capita demand for seafood has risen from 14 to 20kg person. To meet this demand, aquaculture, which now provides more than half of all seafood destined for human consumption, has intensified. In Ireland, salmon aquaculture has been cited as a ‘growth area’,  with government estimates suggesting a 78% increase in farmed production by 2020, is achievable. 

NUIG Liam Carr

Author, Liam Carr

Read more: Major growth potential for Irish farmed salmon

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Shellfish producers slam level of sewage discharge
Sea trout collapse: a complicated issue
Irish shellfish safety reporting goes live
Increase in Irish aquaculture production