Seafood economy’s worth rose to €1.26bn last year

Value of exports climbed by 11% to €679m, Bord Iascaigh Mhara reports

The value of the State’s seafood economy last year increased to €1.26 billion as exports grew by 11 per cent to €679 million.

In his report attached to Bord Iascaigh Mhara’s 2021 annual report, BIM’s chief executive, Jim O’Toole, said the increase in exports “was a significant achievement given the circumstances” during the year, which had seen Covid restrictions.

Mr O’Toole said: “Overall, the value of the sector to the economy rose to €1.26 billion, up from €1.09 billion in 2020. This is the highest value seen since 2016 and represents a growth in GDP [gross domestic product] of 15.3 per cent compared to 2020. The main driver of growth was from exports, with an increase in value of 11 per cent to €679 million in 2021.”

In 2021, there were 16,430 employed in the seafood sector.


The overall spend by BIM last year in driving the sector increased by €6.44 million or 16 per cent from €38.64 million to €45.08 million. This included its industry capital development spend rising by 49 per cent from €17.6 million to €26.6 million. The bulk of this came under the sea fisheries heading.

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During 2021, BIM implemented 18 grant schemes for the seafood sector, with 907 grant payments totalling €20.86 million in grant aid.

Grant payments

Of these, 15 schemes were co-funded at a rate of 50 per cent by the European Maritime Fisheries Fund and this accounted for grant payments of €10.39 million.

Staff numbers at BIM last year reduced from 125 to 122 as staff costs reduced from €8.39 million to €8.07 million. The only staff member to earn over €100,000 last year was Mr O’Toole, who received €136,000.

BIM’s total income for the year was €47.83 million, which was mainly funded by a Government grant of €45.9 million.

The annual report shows that last year BIM incurred a €95,000 cost under legal settlements, which broke down into settlements paid of €62,000 and associated legal costs of €33,000. BIM also incurred a further €51,000 cost in legal fees from legal proceedings.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times