The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority, Ireland's regulatory authority for sea-fisheries legislation and seafood safety, is reminding restaurants, takeaways, fishmongers, and retailers to ensure that the fish and shellfish they serve is legally and sustainably caught.
The reminder is a prompt to all those in the seafood industry and particularly those in food business operations to comply with the sea-fisheries and seafood safety regulations that help ensure safe and sustainable fishing stocks.
A consumer survey by the SFPA found that for regular seafood consumers, legally sourced fish tops the menu of purchasing considerations, with 90% believing that restaurants and food business operators should ensure the fish they buy is legally caught.
The reputation of the retailer for selling safe quality food (82%) was an influential factor in purchasing decisions while 88% believe that fish processors, retailers or other food business operators should not purchase fish from anyone found guilty in court of illegal sea-fishing or non-compliance with seafood safety regulations (88%). A large majority said they ate fish while dining out or from a takeaway (79%) while 88% indicated that they bought their fish from a grocery store or supermarket.
Ireland's seafood economy is valued at an estimated €1.26 billion with a domestic sales value of €418 million per year (€318 million retail and €100 million foodservice). The hospitality sector was cited as one of the main contributors to the growth in consumption of seafood. In 2021, seafood valued at €444 million (an increase of 2%) was landed into Irish ports while there was an 11% growth in exports to a value of €674 million. The seafood industry currently employs 16,647 people directly or indirectly.
Statement By Executive Chairperson, SFPA
Paschal Hayes, executive chairperson, SFPA , stated, "As autumn is now upon us it is timely to highlight the importance of maintaining a high standard and assuring trust in the quality and provenance of our seafood. Coming off the back of a busy summer season, it is clear that locally caught seafood and the opportunity to eat more seafood, through cooking at home or dining out is extremely popular.
"What is also clear from this research is that Irish consumers expect their restaurants, takeaways, fishmongers and retailers to ensure the final product which ends up on their plates, has come there legally and sustainably.
"These findings send an important message to all involved in the sea-fishing industry, and particularly those involved in the restaurant and retail business operations to ensure that they source their fish and shellfish in an ethical, legal and sustainable manner. This means that not only is the seafood sourced from a registered producer, but that it is sustainably caught and declared, so that we can ensure sustainable stocks from Irish waters for generations to come.
"All sectors of our industry have a key role to play in assuring consumer trust in the sustainability and legality of our seafood. Promoting and encouraging compliance among all sectors is an important pillar of the work of the SFPA in assuring public trust in this industry and safeguarding Ireland's global reputation for top quality seafood. Anyone – whether a producer, a purchaser or a consumer - who wishes to report suspected illegal sea-fishing activity should contact the SFPA Confidential Line on 1800 76 76 76, by e-mail at [email protected] or at https://www.sfpa.ie/confidential-line."
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