Leading Journal of the Irish & UK Fishing Industries


Only for inflationary price growth this would be the worst ever fishing report

The recently published Business of Seafood Report 2022 by BIM confirms that the Irish Fishing
industry is in further decline, it is without doubt the worst report into Irish Fishing in recent times.
When one drills down into the report and the actual figures, it is a damning report and is nothing
short of shocking added CEO of Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Brendan Byrne.

Jobs lost

Employment within the fish processing sector has fallen from 3,873 in 2021 to 3,425 in this year’s
report, although on page 22 (the regional breakdown of employment figures states there is only
3,295 jobs in the sector). The overall volume of exports has fallen by 13% in 2022, with the pelagic
sector hit by a fall in mackerel exports of 31% and blue whiting by 20%, last year’s Eurostat fish
processing figures showed Ireland falling to 10 th place in Europe in its processing output. In just one
year will have lost 448 jobs within the processing sector or 11.5% of the jobs within the sector; if this
were to occur within any other industry it would result in a national outcry.

Overall within the broader fishing industry employment has fallen by 8% within the past 12 months.

Landings down across the board

Landings of fish has decline very significantly within some of our ports – with Killybegs suffering an
18% fall in landings, with non-Irish landings falling by 30% in to the Port of Killybegs. This does not
come as a shock, as throughout 2022 major issues surfaced with the SFPA and how non-Irish vessels
were managed within the Port. Castletownbere has also suffered a decline in fish landings of 7%;
with Irish landings down 24%, while there was a slight increase in non-Irish landings into that port.
Unless Ireland changes its ways immediately and becomes a friendlier destination to do business our
fishing industry will continue to suffer, if vessels can land into any other EU port without hassle then
the same rules must apply to Ireland – but, that is not the case. For too long the Irish have over
interpreted and perhaps on occasions made up rules that simply do not exist anywhere else in
Europe. It is this madness that is costing jobs, loss of income for our coastal communities and the
decline within our industry for numerous years as confirmed by Eurostat in their recent report – the
European common fisheries project is built on the principle of a level playing field that is a concept
the Irish authorities would need to realise before we are left without an industry.

Price Inflation saves us from recording the worst returns in the history of our state.

Only for the on average 24% inflationary price growth on fishery products our actual loss within the
fishing sector would be a record breaking in the 100-year history of our state. We have reached this
point because for the past twenty years we as an industry failed to drive the change that was
necessary within our Department of Marine, we failed to put our case to Europe and we have
regulated our industry to death. Meantime, within sight of our shores one can see factory ships land
multiple times the quantities of any land-based fish processor and nothing is done to regulate them
in a consistent and comprehensive manner.

The IFPEA challenges any group or individual to compare and contrast the regime of control within our land based fish processing units to that of the large-scale factory vessels that fish off our coast – the results of such a study would send shock waves to the very hard of the European Commission.

The IFPEA notes that in the 2020 and 2021 Seafood reports states there are 160 and 161 seafood processors whereas the 2022 report states there are only 101.

Open the window of opportunity

The BIM Seafood Report confirms without fish our industry will continue to decline, without the raw
materials further job losses will result and our industry will lose its position as a global player. This
can be avoided now with the numerous new changes and promotions within our Department of
Marine push a pro development and pro innovation agenda, the decline we witnessed over the past
20 years was because we failed to drive for change, quite the opposite was the case.

Our ambition as a state must be to triple the capacity of the fishing industry within the next ten-year
period, more than quadruple the number employed and support our coastal communities – if we are
to do that; then everything that has lead to this point needs to be thrown out the window and a new
window of future opportunities opened for all. That will require tough decisions but there is no
alternative; and an entire all of Government approach will be required concluded Brendan Byrne.