The recent transfer of the marketing remit from BIM to Bord Bia is a step in the right direction as up until now, seafood has been treated as non-food by Bord Iascaigh Mhara and this category has been under-developed in comparison to other food products. Various agencies currently assist the seafood sector with aspects of business development, research and development and innovation and agencies such as Enterprise Ireland, Bord Bia and Teagasc have wider-food-industry expertise and have tried and tested methodolohies and business models which can be applied to seafood products.

BIM are in the process of completing a €28 million new building in Clonakilty, Co Cork and many of the services they will be offering are duplication of existing services on offer in other agencies. The new buildings are carbon-copies of existing facilities throughout Ireland however BIM will only look at seafood products as opposed to other facilities/agencies which can apply wider food expertise.

Solutions – The Irish Marine Institute and Department of Fisheries carry out a similar role as the Fisheries section of BIM. Amalgamate the Fisheries Remit of BIM into the Marine Institute Agenda.

While the marketing remit of BIM has been moved to Bord Bia, 11 staff from the BIM marketing section are to be re-deployed/re-branded as Business Development/Innovation staff and will remain at BIM. Question – what is the difference between marketing and market development and shouldn\’t Bord Bia be covering the business development area as well? Bord Bia should be encouraged to fill this niche or to link with existing service suppliers/agencies offering these services rather than allow BIM to duplicate existing services.

One of the new areas BIM will tartget is Product Development and Innovation. This is a completely new area for BIM and will require additional staff, equipment and facilities which in turn will require millions in capital and current expenditure in years to come. Suggestion – Transfer this remit to existing research agencies e.g. Teagasc who currently provide this service to seafood companies and fund various inter-agency programmes between Bord Bia / Enterprise Ireland / Teagasc aimed at Innovation/market development/innovation and Technology Transfer. This will save millions in years to come and close collaboration between Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland and Research agencies will ensure research is carried out for the benefit of SME\’s, is relevant and can be commercialised resulting in job creating and retention.

Finally, rather than compound the problem and leave the new facilities in Clonakilty empty, allow the Seafish Protection Agency and Dept of Fisheries who also reside in the same building to utilise the space earmarked for BIM. The processing facilities/incubation units would be better utilised for fisheries-related activities or those concerned with authenticity or investigation of illegal landings and existing SFPA/dept staff could move up the corridor rather than BIM staff having to travel between Dublin and Clonakilty at enormous expense (mileage and subsistence).

The facilities in Clonakilty should not have been given the go-ahead until a full analysis of existing facilities and service providers had taken place. If a document had of been propared in the first place and the seafood industry were consulted, it would have been abundantly clear that new facilities are not what is required but a more joined up programmes between existing agencies and investment in collaborative programmes aimed at integrating seafood into wider food agendas.

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