Written answers

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Fish Farming

Photo of Martin FerrisMartin Ferris (Kerry, Sinn Fein)
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202. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the actions taken in respect of the commitment contained in the programme for partnership Government that the potential for the development of onshore close containment fish farming as an emerging technology will be explored; the long-term strategy for the development of onshore close containment fish farming; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43887/19]

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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The Programme for a Partnership Government commits to exploring the potential for the development of onshore close containment fish farming as an emerging technology.  Separately, my Department’s National Strategic Plan for Sustainable Aquaculture Development, published in 2015, proposes 24 actions to drive the sustainable development of the aquaculture sector and grow production in the sector by 45,000 tonnes by 2023. The Plan targets a 30% increase in production derived from onshore close containment recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS). Considerable international developmental effort is being put into land based RAS systems. A number of technological challenges need to be overcome to make RAS economically viable.

An Bord Iascaigh Mhara funded a 2015 study by the Irish Salmon Growers Association ‘Potential for Land Based Salmon Growout in Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS) in Ireland’. The report describes in detail all technical aspects of RAS production and system design and operations. It also covers important biological aspects of land based salmon production.

As part of my Department’s €240 million European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Operational Programme, an aquaculture Knowledge Gateway Scheme is being implemented by BIM.  In close collaboration with aquaculture enterprises and researchers, the Scheme aims to develop knowledge, innovation and technology in the aquaculture sector to ensure its sustainable development. An important part of the focus of the Scheme will be the applied research and development on RAS identified in the National Strategic Plan. This may take the form of applied research undertaken by BIM on behalf of the sector or initiatives from industry operators or research institutions. Universities and Institutes of Technology can avail of 100% grants up to a value of €500,000 under the Knowledge Gateway Scheme to conduct research, studies and trials into RAS technology, while aquaculture enterprises can receive grants of 50% with a value of up to €200,000.

To further incentivise RAS developments, I made 50% grants up to value of €1 million available to aquaculture enterprises under the EMFF Sustainable Aquaculture Scheme for capital investment in commercial RAS developments. 

In 2019, BIM is continuing its research into Recirculating Aquaculture Multitrophic Pond Systems (RAMPS), which has been underway since 2016, funded through a number of EMFF grants under the Knowledge Gateway Scheme.  RAMPS is a novel production method developed by BIM. The system involves utilising cutaway peatlands and poor agricultural land for freshwater fish production. The system has the potential to significantly increase Ireland’s aquaculture production of organic produce in a sustainable and cost-effective way. The project involves cultivation of perch and trout in earthen ponds utilising duckweed and algae for bioremediation. Subsequently, it is envisaged that the duckweed will be harvested and may be utilised in the cosmetic, animal protein and pharmaceutical sectors.


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