The are four main activities in the Irish Seafood Industry: Fishing, Fish Farming (Aquaculture), Seafood Processing and Seafood Marketing. The industry employs approximately 5,000 people in the catching sector, with another 2,000 engaged in fish farming, and 3,000 in processing and ancilliary aquaculture around the coast.
People engaged in commercial fishing harvest fish and shellfish from their natural habitat and depend for their livelihood on a naturally replenishing sustainable supply of fish and shellfish.
Some fishermen work on small inshore day boats often in sight of land. Crews are small - usually only two or three people and the catch is landed fresh that day. Others fish offshore on larger vessels on trips lasting days or weeks away from their home port, depending on the type and size of vessel. Navigation and safety skills are vital for all of those who work on the water, irrespective of the size of vessel. BIM provides a three day Basic Safety Training course which is a statutory requirement for all fishing vessel crewmembers, who are also obliged to wear Personal Flotation Devices.
Large boats require a crew that includes a skipper (the person in charge of a fishing vessel), a mate and engineer and highly skilled deckhands to operate the fishing gear, sort and pack the catch when it is brought onboard and aid in the general operation of the vessel. Every day brings fresh challenges and modern vessels are highly sophisticated with an incredible array of hi-tech navigation and fishing equipment, which requires skill and experience to master. BIM is the agency responsible for training in the fishing industry and offers a wide range of courses and demand for crewmembers at all levels is still strong.
For more on the Irish Fishing Industry click here
Fish farming is a growth area attracting people to work as farm managers, marine biologists, divers and highly skilled operatives who can detect changes in fish and shellfish behaviour and respond appropriately. There is concensus that aquaculture will be the main provider of fish and seafoods in the future. The work is very varied and more like that of a farmer than a fisherman, but the same skills that apply to fishing easily transfer across to aquaculture.
The seafood processing sector is concentrated in the coastal regions of Donegal, Galway, Cork, Kerry and the South East. There are approximately 200 firms, mainly SMEs, engaged in handling, distribution and processing of fish. BIM surveys show less than 5% of these companies have more than 50 people employed fulltime, while a significant number of small operators supply a local market or sell to niche market outlets.
The marketing of Irish seafood is an area that is performing well. €340 million worth of Irish is seafood sold at home annually. International markets include Europe, Africa and the Far East, with key export markets being France, Spain, Britain, Germany, Italy and Nigeria. The majority of exported Irish seafood goes to Europe, but emerging markets, including Korea, Hong Kong and Russia offer significant growth opportunities for the sector. Exports of Irish seafood amounted to €415 million in 2011.
BIM Training Courses
BIM courses are developed in consultation with industry. They are very practical FETAC and Department of Transport accredited qualifications which can be applied directly to the sector of choice and offer realistic career opportunities. Courses are offered in the following areas:
Life at sea with the Merchant Marine has always appealed to young people who want to combine travel with a challenging career offering exciting future prospects. This is the life for those who relish the challenge of working with the sea - one of nature's most powerful and temperamental elements.
Modern technology is used extensively in many areas on board the merchant ship of today, with great emphasis being placed on safety and protection of the environment.
Despite the 'hi-tech' aspects of ship operations, seafarers must remain very much in tune with the natural environment in which they operate and the basic principles of seafaring. There are normally two main departments on board, the Deck and the Engine.
The Deck department is concerned with the overall operation of the ship and its responsibilities include navigation, communications, cargo and stability, maintenance and safety.
The Engine room department is responsible for all technical services including main engine propulsion, other plant and machinery, and electrical generation.
Currently there are shortages of workers in this sector. According to Captain Dave Hopkins, President of the Irish Chamber of Shipping...
"The industry needs people to work aboard ships around the coast of Ireland, and internationally. It is an exciting and rewarding career, and an important factor is the 'life after sea' element which includes the operation of ships from shore side, the management and building of ships which trade globally, careers as harbour masters, ships pilots, college lecturers, and surveyors who work within government marine and transport departments, insurance and classification industry" [feb 08]
National Maritime College
Cork Institute of Technology’s National Maritime College situated in Ringaskiddy, Co. Cork is the designated national centre for the education and training of personnel for the Merchant Navy and is Ireland’s only Nautical College. The National College of Ireland has developed a suite of Maritime Management education programmes to provide opportunity for those with a professional interest in the maritime industry.
[Source - Irish Maritime Development Office]
UCC Aquaculture and Fisheries Development Centre
The Aquaculture and Fisheries Development Centre (AFDC) at University College Cork (UCC) is a centre of excellence for aquaculture and fisheries research. It focuses on the areas of fish biology, shellfish health and disease, molecular genetics, fish and shellfish aquaculture and marine mammals and fisheries research. New and emerging aquaculture species are a major component of their work programmme as well as inshore and deep-sea fisheries, the impact of fishing practices on the environment, bycatch and discards, stock assessment and basic fish biology.
The Irish seafood sector currently employs approximately 11,000 people and is worth €822 million to the economy. The sector is showing phenomenal growth on the export market with sales up 18% on 2011 levels, to €493 million in 2012. A recent BIM industry conference “Irish Seafood – Becoming a Global Player” projects potential for the seafood industry in Ireland to achieve €1 billion in sales by 2020, creating 3,000 new jobs in the process.
The sector aim is that by 2020, Ireland will have become a global player in the seafood industry following expansion into new markets and engagement in a range of new value adding activities.