Ireland’s first accredited fishmonger qualification was launched earlier this week been launch in Howth, Co Dublin. Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Ireland’s seafood development agency, has developed the Certificate in Fishmonger Skills accredited by nationally and internationally recognised Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI).
Ian Mannix, BIM described how the aim of the training is to retain and attract talent into the industry. He said:
“Today’s consumer has come to expect their fishmonger to have a broad knowledge of seafood. They want them to be able to advise them when they are at the counter. This new programme will provide solid, fully certified training to anyone working in seafood retailing; practical skills they can then apply in the industry Moreover, improved skills in the workplace will ultimately lead to better sales and better retention of staff.”
The new training combines practical and classroom learning and includes modules on seafood labelling, nutrition and food safety. The programme also includes hands-on demonstrations in fish filleting and culinary skills and is aimed at existing staff in seafood retailing or those interested in pursuing a career in the industry.
Master fishmonger, Hal Dawson is one of the trainers on the new programme. He has worked in the seafood industry since 1972. He said, “The new course will provide professionalism within the industry. Having this qualification on your cv, will give fishmongers a real advantage.”
The value of seafood retail sales in 2018 was €297 million according to the BIM Business of Seafood report. Sales of loose fish experienced the sharpest increase (+8%) in comparison to pre-packed (+1%). Salmon remains the number one fish species bought by consumers in Ireland. However, there has been a marked increase in demand for lesser-known species owing to a higher awareness of sustainability and provenance.
Laura Desmond, National Sales Manager, Oceanpath, completed the pilot fishmonger skills programme in 2018. She spoke of how the training has given her more experience in grading fish quality and food safety and said:
“I started out in sales and engineering and made a switch to the fish business when my mother passed away in 2010. I now manage Reid’s Fish Market and Oceanpath. I love the freedom of my job. I’m in my car, and get to share my passion and knowledge of seafood to fishmongers working in the different stores.
“I can go into any of our stores now and ensure we’re selling the best quality fish.”
Image L-R: Hal Dawson, Master Fishmonger with Laura Desmond, National Sales Manager, Oceanpath at the launch of Ireland’s first certified fishmonger qualification (Julien Behal Photography).