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Boom times for trawlers as Ros a’ Mhíl Harbour shines

Trawlers landed fish with a total value of €23 million at Ros a’ Mhíl Harbour last year – an annual increase of almost 70%.

Soaring demand and higher prices for Dublin Bay prawns helped Ros a’ Mhíl to outperform all other Irish fishing ports in terms of the growth in value of its catch in 2022, BIM has confirmed.

The vast majority of the catch – €22 million – was landed by the Irish fleet, with €1 million from non-Irish boats.

Total value of catch at Ros a’ Mhíl represented a ‘significant increase’ compared with the previous year.

“Ros a’ Mhíl was the port with the strongest value growth in 2022, increasing by 69%,” according to a new report by BIM.

Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Ireland’s seafood development agency, said the value of fish landing at the Conamara harbour represented about 4% of the total landings at Irish ports, which had a value of €507m in 2022.

Some 2,000 tonnes of fish from Irish boats were landed at Ros a’ Mhíl, with 100 tonnes from fishing fleet from other countries.

The economic analysis is contained in BIM’s latest report, the Business of Seafood, which is a snapshot of the seafood sector in 2022.

The top three species by value landed by Irish fleet across all ports were Dublin Bay prawns (€82m), mackerel (€80m) and crab (€25m).

The top three species landed by tonnage were mackerel (52,300), blue whiting (28,600) and horse mackerel (15,500).

“Killybegs and Castletownbere remained as the top two Irish ports in volume and value terms.

“However, the ports of Ros an Mhil, Clogherhead and Greencastle all saw significant increases in the value of landings, mainly as a result of the rise in the value of Dublin Bay prawn landings,” according to the report.

The report said that there were 981 people in direct seafood employment in the West, which it defined as Galway and Clare.

A further 1,690 workers in Galway and Clare are in ‘downstream’ in seafood employment.

It said that the coastal population of Galway and Clare is just over 64,700 and just over 27,034 are employed.

The share of those employed in the West’s coastal communities who are working in seafood, either directly or downstream, was 6%, according to BIM analysis.

It said there were eleven seafood processing companies in Galway and Clare, which employed 171 workers in 2022.

BIM’s report said demand for Irish seafood increased in 2022, “driven by strong recovery in food service after the slowdown caused by the global pandemic”.

“Overall, consumption grew by 13%, reaching €475 million. This was driven by significant demand from the hospitality sector, which grew by 70% from 2021 to €169 million.

“However, the strong growth in the food service sector was offset by a 4% decline in the value of sales in the retail sector. Here, volumes declined by 8% after the peak in sales achieved throughout the pandemic when the hospitality sector was closed,” the report said.

It noted that price inflation impacted the sector with salmon increasing 9% in price and cod increasing 7%.

“These price increases led to demand falling by 11% and 3% respectively for salmon and cod. Volumes declined for nearly all of the main species, independent of price inflation. Only haddock and whiting bucked this trend with prices decreasing 2% for both, while sales volumes increased by 16% and 13% respectively,” it said.

The overall volume of exports fell in 2022 by 13% as the reduction in pelagic quotas and global inflation impacted demand for Irish seafood.

The decline in the volume of exports was driven mainly by reductions in mackerel (-31%) and blue whiting (-20%). Conversely, exports of salmon and shellfish species such as shrimps, lobsters, mussels and whelks all increased “significantly”.

BIM said that the growth in prices of mackerel (+27%) and Dublin Bay prawns (+26%) “offset the overall decrease in the volume of seafood exported”.

This meant that the overall value of exports increased by 4% to €696 million.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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