Asia has surpassed the UK as the second biggest export market for Irish seafood, according to the latest Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) Business of Seafood report.
The report reveals how exports of Irish seafood to Asia totalled €96m in 2018, an increase of 23%, while the value of exports to the UK fell by 4% to €81m during this same period. The decrease in values is largely attributed to a fall in the value of sterling.
The Irish seafood sector as a whole continued to grow in 2018 and was valued at €1.25bn in GDP terms, an increase of 3.4%. Private investment (€267m) together with government support (€170m) contributed to this growth.
Production of salmon fell by 30% last year, owing to the cyclical nature of Irish salmon production. Fluctuations in quotas resulted in a 10% decrease in the value of mackerel due to reduced landings.
The report shows that 14,359 adults are employed in the Irish seafood sector in fishing, aquaculture, processing and seafood retail. The industry is of particular importance in rural coastal communities where, in the case of Donegal, it accounts for 12% of employment.
The report provides detail on the changing fortunes of the Irish fishing fleet over the past decade, including the economic downturn from 2008 – 2013 and the significant increase in fuel prices experienced in 2008 and again between 2011 and 2014. The gross profit of the fleet rose from a low of €10.4m in 2010 to €78.1m in 2018.
Jim O’Toole, BIM CEO, said: “Investment is happening at every level of the sector from investment in new fishing gear, improvements to vessels to make them more sustainable, to capital investment in processing industries. The sector has been responding to a challenging environment. Despite the continued uncertainty brought about by Brexit there’s still an underlying confidence in the sector as evidenced by the growth of investment.”
Jim O'Toole continued: “The significant increase in exports to Asia over the last five years by 247% demonstrates the strength and diversification of the sector”.