Tuesday, 7 December 2010
Dáil Éireann Debate
310. Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will elaborate on the National Recovery Plan 2011-14’s reference to the seafood industry; his views on whether building the seafood industry in order to repay the €85bn bailout requires securing substantial quota increases for Irish fishermen at the upcoming EU fisheries negotiations on 13 and 14 December 2010; if he will outline his plans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46341/10]
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Deputy Brendan Smith): Food Harvest 2020 sets out a roadmap for growth in seafood sector and the delivery of the recommendations in that report are, in my view, critical for delivering on the substantial potential of this sector. In respect of seafood the National Recovery Plan 2011-2014 is based on the findings and recommendations of Food Harvest 2020 report which does not rely on increases in Total Allowable Catches and quotas, as the deputy is suggesting, but is based on developing non-traditional species, improving quality and developing value added products from foreign landings for high value EU and niche markets.
I believe that seafood innovation and new product development together with maintenance of an international reputation for wholesome, fresh and natural seafood, produced in the most sustainable and environmentally friendly manner, are essential to the advancement and further development of the Irish seafood sector. With this in mind I have sought to support initiatives that endeavour to deliver these fundamental requirements while also seeking to increase Ireland’s market share of the international seafood industry.
Primary examples of my approach to advance the development of the Irish seafood sector at this time are the adoption of the National Seafood Programme and the endorsement of Bord Iascaigh Mhara’s (BIM) 3 Year Strategy. Together these target based initiatives represent a means of ensuring the sustainable development and advancement of the Irish seafood sector. The National Seafood Programme provides Exchequer funded support with the development of new products and processes, innovation, adding value to products, maintaining and improving environmental and food quality standards and improving cost efficiency. In addition, the EU Co-funded Fisheries Operational Programme this year is providing grant aid support for environmental and inshore management systems for the fishing fleet.
BIM’s Strategy is geared at improving the seafood sector’s performance by assisting industry through programmes of skills development, enhanced environmental compliance, product differentiation and labelling, new product development and innovation and improved commercial practices. The Strategy’s time frame and targets are designed to contribute to the achievement of 2020 targets in Food Harvest (FH 2020). Indeed, the level of progress achieved will be a valuable marker of the efficiency of actions being taken under FH 2020.
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