A €5 million plan to deliver skills for a “sustainable seafood industry” has been initiated by Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue.
The strategy, entitled The Next Wave 2023-2028, has been drawn up by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) and is funded by the minister’s department.
It aims to attract new entrants to the seafood sector; create and promote career paths in the seafood sector; deliver “the right courses, to the right people, in the right way”; and build strategic partnerships for growth, BIM says.
“An agile, professional, and skilled workforce is essential for the future sustainability of Ireland’s seafood industry,” Mr McConalogue says.
“The ambitious goals outlined in this strategy aim to support the industry in navigating future challenges and opportunities. By offering diverse and rewarding career paths, complemented by modern and professional training, I’m confident the industry will be better positioned to attract and retain the talent required for its long-term success,” he says.
The plan comes at a particular crisis point for the fishing industry, with skills in danger of being lost due to the Brexit-related decommissioning scheme in the whitefish sector.
The strategy “seeks to address a number of challenges faced by the fishing sector, as identified in an analysis of the Irish fishing fleet labour force, commissioned by BIM in 2022”, BIM says.
“In addition to delivering skills that are currently required, BIM will determine and plan for future skill requirements, ensuring business and technical skills,” it says.
“The skills needed by the Irish seafood industry are evolving significantly,”BIM chief executive Caroline Bocquel says.
“Although traditional skills remain extremely important and are at the core of the training BIM provides, new skills are required that reflect recent technology advancements, regulations and market demands,” she says.
“The development of skills to protect our natural environment, while operating a sustainable and profitable business model, are integral to the continued growth and success of the industry,” she says.
“ We are also working to develop a range of sustainability programmes and modules across BIM’s training and client services that will enhance knowledge and insights and allow the industry to meet rapidly changing demands,” she says.
The Irish seafood sector is an important and valuable contributor to the national economy, valued at €1.3 billion in 2022 and employing almost 16,000 adults, many of whom live and work in Ireland’s coastal communities, BIM says.
“The process of catching, growing and adding product value through seafood processing, retail and food service plays a key role in the cultural, social and economic fabric of coastal communities,”it says.