Major conference on innovation and sustainability in seafood sector


Mr Tony Killeen TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food opened a major conference organised by Bórd Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) - BIM/Fish Ireland 2008 Conference - on innovation and sustainability in the seafood industry.

The Minister also held a formal meeting with the Federation of Irish Fishermen (FIF) to discuss further the immediate issues facing the Irish fishing fleet and the next steps which will take place at European level to address the immediate challenges for the Irish industry.

The conference - which took place on 26th June in Donegal - involved national and international speakers, who drew on their expertise and experience to give very informative talks on driving innovation and engineering sustainability in the Irish Seafood Industry.

Minister Killeen said - "I believe that the current very difficult situation the industry is facing makes it even more critical to identify the key steps necessary to lift the industry out of its vulnerable position where it is dependent on inflexible commodity prices and, thus, unable to pass on its full costs. It is of the utmost importance that we take steps and work together to maximise the value and, in particular, the prices fishermen get at the quayside.

"The Cawley Strategy sets out the road-map and today's conference served to both review progress and identify opportunities in the market for both wild and farmed fish."

The conference also focused on aquaculture development and Minister Killeen identified this sector as offering potential for significant growth. He said that he is committed to addressing the current challenges so that the full potential of aquaculture can be realised.

Minister Killeen also set out the work he is doing with Commissioner Borg and his colleagues in the Council of Ministers to get agreement for an EU-funded package of emergency measures for fishermen.

Minister Killeen said he was pleased with the response of Commissioner Borg, who has undertaken to come back to the next Council meeting on 15th July with definitive proposals - ahead of which the Minister said he anticipated further progress could be made.

Apart from the lengthy discussion on the fuel issue, Minister Killeen said that he was particularly pleased with the progress made in a number of other areas of concern to Irish fishermen, which he had discussed on a number of occasions with the Federation of Irish Fishermen (FIF).