Ireland’s seafood industry contributed €1.15 billion to the Irish economy in GDP terms in 2017. The sector has experienced three consecutive years of growth since 2015. It currently employs over 14,000 men and women, directly and indirectly, and is an important source of employment in rural coastal communities in Ireland. The industry is committed to meeting the targets set out in the Food Wise 2025 strategy by continuing to focus on sustainable fishing practices and the development of a high quality aquaculture sector.
Irish seafood has gained a positive reputation in Ireland and on a global level as being of high quality and sustainably sourced.
The Irish seafood sector has embraced the Origin Green sustainability programme since its inception, the first Irish seafood processing company verified in December 2012; the first primary aquaculture producers verified in 2015.
The high rate of Origin Green membership within the Irish seafood sector demonstrates a commitment to sustainability throughout the entire seafood value chain. Fishermen, fish farmers and processors have all acquired green credentials through a multitude of Bord Iascaigh Mhara’s (BIM) sustainability programmes.
BIM’s sustainability initiatives target the entire seafood value chain, from vessels and fish farms to food production and retail.
At primary level, certification to standards such as the Responsibly Sourced Seafood Standard (RSS) for wild catch and the Certified Quality Aquaculture standard, both internationally recognised to (the international standard for product certification) ISO 17065, ensure the sustainability of the raw material through independently certified management practices. Ireland has launched a government backed programme of Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) to demonstrate Ireland’s commitment to sustainable fisheries to complement the sustainability elements of the RSS. FIPs are a globally recognised means of assessing fisheries and identifying actions to improve the management and sustainability of these fisheries.
BIM’s Green Seafood Business Programme was established in 2012. To date it has assisted over 30 seafood companies at secondary level to achieve significant cost savings and efficiencies in areas including water usage, energy efficiency, transport and waste management. The seafood processing industry, in particular, has embraced this programme. The ability to improve efficiencies in these areas presents a great opportunity to reduce resource consumption and emissions while increasing profits. Management of waste raw material, e.g. material left after filleting, is often overlooked in seafood processing as a potential area for cost savings. BIM recognises the importance of innovative reuse and recycling and how it can transform fish wastes into valuable by-products.
The environmental, economic and social sustainability of the Irish seafood sector is central to BIM’s strategy. BIM recognises how crucial the careful management and conservation of Ireland’s natural capital is to the continued sustainability of Irish seafood sector.
Current sustainability initiatives are diverse and far-ranging and include the following: research in gear technology; certification and stock management; energy and waste management to stewardship of the natural environment; continually improving measures by implementing management systems and achieving voluntary standards.
BIM published the Environmental Sustainability Atlas in 2017 to provide insight into the breadth of programmes and projects that have been and continue to be carried out in the field of sustainability. For a more detailed analysis of the work BIM has carried out through the seafood supply chain, please refer to the BIM Sustainability Atlas. This publication outlines the work undertaken in all aspects of the seafood supply chain under key environmental topics.