Minister identifies new Fish Species suitable for Commercial Farming while launc

Thursday, 9 May 2002

Release date: 9 May, 2002

Minister identifies new Fish Species suitable for Commercial Farming while launching new Marine Research Programme

The award of a massive €13 million to the Martin Ryan Institute at NUI, Galway by the Higher Education Authority has lead to a further €6 million being raised in what is a true example of a Public Private Partnership. Atlantic Philanthropies Ltd., based in the United States, has come on board to support an ambitious marine research programme that will build both scientific capability and the physical resources required to support it. The unique partnership continues a strong tradition of PPP at NUI Galway. Tony Ryan (of Ryan Air), led the trend when he funded the establishment of the MRI in 1992.

Aquaculture research is one of the many areas of marine research in which the Martin Ryan Institute is involved. Aquaculture is one of the world's major growth industries and accounts for 25% of all fish landings. In Ireland, the sector has grown in output value from €51 million in 1994, to €97 million in 2000 and now employs 2,200 on a full and part-time basis. Salmon, mussels and oysters, have been successfully farmed since the 1970s. Now a new report identifies turbot, halibut and cod, as species with the best prospects for development in the immediate future.

The report of the New Species Development Group will be launched by Mr. Frank Fahey, T.D., Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources, today (Thursday, 9 May at 2.00 p.m.) in the Martin Ryan Institute, in NUI, Galway. Established by the Minister in December 2001, the Group was charged with drawing up an integrated plan of action designed to facilitate and accelerate the commercial cultivation of new species in the short term.

To support the diversification by the aquaculture sector into the cultivation of new marine finfish species, the New Species Development Group has devised a Six Point Integrated Strategy which includes the following:

Facilities
Support the development of dedicated hatchery and juvenile management in Irish R&D facilities under the NDP, 2000-2006.
Skills
Build the Irish Human resource capacity, expertise and key skills in areas such as genetics, hatchery technology and management, fish health broodstock management and feed research
Species
State agencies to prioritise and fast-track the three main species –turbot, halibut and cod – in the hatchery, juvenile and growout phases, in partnership with private entrepreneurs.
Partnership/Investment
Build international alliances and promote international investment in new species
Promotion/Marketing
State agencies to promote the public image and market perception of Ireland as a location for Fish Health and Licencing Department of Marine & Natural Resources to adopt a proactive Fish Health and Licence strategy for management of new species.

Mr. Declan Clarke of NUI, Galway's Martin Ryan Institute, who is Chairman of the New Species Development Group, says the report's recommendations present both a challenge and an opportunity to fast-track the development of aquaculture in Ireland. "Compared to countries such as Norway, Canada and France who have been to the forefront of new species diversification over the past decade, Ireland's aquaculture industry is relatively underdeveloped and we now have an opportunity to avail of the advances in new technologies, as well as consumer demand for continuity of supply and product consistency". One of the first major steps in building this required capacity in marine finfish R&D will be the establishment of Ireland's first cod hatchery at the MRI Carna Laboratories. As an initiative which is funded by the Údarás na Gaeltachta and the Marine Institute and is supported by Trouw Ireland Ltd and BIM, the collaborative nature of the project ensures a multidisciplinary input, both from a research and most importantly a commercial viewpoint.

The major capital development programme being undertaken at the MRI Carna Laboratories, will facilitate just this type of collaborative research, both in the basic marine science fields and also on the more applied sector.

Ends

Information from:Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI, Galway. Tel. 091-750418; Mobile 087-2986582

Note for Editors:

The term 'new species' in the Report refers to those species that are being considered for commercialisation, that are not in mainstream production and have the potential to sustainably contribute to the Irish economy within the coming decade, specifically they refer to marine finfish such as turbot, halibut and cod.

  1. In the context of new species covered in this report the financial investment required is estimated at €500,000 to €3 million.
  2. In evaluating the economic aspects of new species the following criteria apply:
    • Reliability and cost of juvenile supply
    • Detailed knowledge of costs of production and markets
    • Growth rates achievable in ambient
    • - Fish health and local environmental parameters
    • The availability of local expertise
    • Adequate information to devise a specification for a commercial plant
  3. New Fish Species prioritised for commercialisation: Turbot, Halibut and Cod. Turbot: The commercial farming of turbot is well established in Spain, France and Chile. Early turbot production trials in Ireland and Europe showed encouraging results and a commercial turbot farm is now established in Connemara. Halibut is a cold-water species, which is a high priced fish with an established market. Most research has been undertaken in Norway, Scotland and Iceland. Cod: Economic models draw parallels with salmon farming which is similar in terms of methodology and requirements. Studies undertaken in Norway indicate that costs must be significantly reduced to make the industry competitive with salmon farming.
  4. In addition to Turbot, Halibut and Cod, other finfish species considered to have potential for aquaculture include Haddock, Sea Bass and Hake
  5. The Irish domestic market for seafood is worth €110 million and Irish seafood exports were valued at €330 million in the year 2000.
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