A Clare fishermen is calling for urgent investment in maritime projects and access to funding for local seafood entrepreneurs.
It follows the Department of Agriculture’s annual review and outlook for 2023 which shows that Clare is among the most heavily counties on the industry nationwide.
The report shows that Seafood contributes to 15,000 jobs nationwide while in Clare alone, the industry is responsible 6% of all jobs in coastal communities.
Last year, Irish seafood exports were worth €530m to the exchequer, an increase of €17m from 2021.
The stark reality remains however that Norwegian trawlers alone are permitted to capture 26,000 tonnes more of blue whiting in Irish waters, than Irish fishermen, and so far this year 42 indigenous vessels have applied for decommissioning.
In 2021, €445,000 in government was allocated to improve slipways and pontoons across the county and a West Clare fisherman says this funding needs to be made more accessible to entrepreneurs.
Tommy Heffernan from the Doonbeg Fisherman’s Association believes the future of coastal communities lies in fishing tourism.
The Department’s report also showed that he average family farm income was €45,809 last year, with 40% of this income coming from direct payments.
The total value of Irish Agri-food exports last year was €19 billion which is up 22% on the amount recorded in 2021.
Clare had the fourth highest amount of specialist beef farmers in the country during this period with 5,109 individual holdings, while the over 1,000 specialist dairy farmers here was also the fourth highest total nationwide.
The banner was found to be lacking in the sheep sector however with just 96 specialist holdings, the fifth lowest in the country.
Clare IFA Chair and Parteen farmer Tom Lane says that local industry can only be maintained with targeted and timely investment.
You can listen to the full interview below.