Commercial samples of Boarfish will be supplied to the Chinese market. (Photo: NOAA/Stock File/FIS)
China could soon begin importing Irish boarfish
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
Monday, April 23, 2012, 01:20 (GMT + 9)
Minister Coveney's agri-fisheries trade mission to China has led to key seafood buyers on the Chinese market becoming interested in Ireland’s boarfish (Capros aper) -- a small fish caught in large numbers off the Irish coast.
After holding a number of intensive meetings, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney TD plus representatives from Bord Bia, BIM and eight seafood companies, have put agreements in place with various seafood buyers to supply the Chinese market with commercial samples with a view to securing orders.
"For our industry it's like finding gas or oil in Irish waters," said Karl McHugh of Killybegs-based fishing operator Atlantic Dawn.
Coveney pointed out that this year, Ireland secured the largest quota for boarfish: over 56,000 tonnes, representing a 155 per cent increase on last year's quota.
“When you consider that access to raw material is a challenge the Irish fishing sector faces, this new species represents a real opportunity and a boost to Irish fishermen and processors. BIM have been working to develop this product and following the positive discussions we have had on this mission, we can now look to develop this business and in doing so generate significant increased revenue and employment," he stated.
Irish fishers have partnered with scientists to collect biological information that will ensure careful management of this resource.
"Over the past 18 months, BIM has carried out a variety of new product development trials on this new species and we believe that we can deliver a viable market opportunity to a number of markets including China and Africa. Over 12 tonnes of boarfish are being sent as a commercial trial to a seafood processor in Qingdao,” Coveney stated.
Chinese seafood distributors Sinopesca is accepting the 12-tonne shipment of the fish on a trial basis, and will import commercial quantities if there is enough demand, Irish Independent reports.
“This will give us a good insight from a Chinese perspective into what formats work best, whether its skinless fillets, headed and gutted, surimi type products, or simply whole for the Chinese domestic market," he added.
McHugh added that finding a consumer outlet for the boarfish would transform the fishery and add EUR 45 million to the value of the catch.
By Natalia Real