The Irish shellfish industry comprises 230 companies or individuals – all micro or small enterprises – of which 150 are members of the ISA (membership is not mandatory). Production of mussels, oysters, scallops, abalone, and manila clams totals 34,000 tonnes, worth €38 m and employment of full and seasonal workers of 1705.
The ISA is involved in representing its members at local, national and EU level and there is an Executive Committee of 10 members elected by the membership into specific seats that give a geographical and sectoral spread throughout the Republic of Ireland. The Executive and membership are serviced by a full-time staff member to carry out the wishers of the Executive Committee and deal with issues impacting on individual members or groups of members. The ISA has been particularly involved in a number of key areas for the industry:
- The establishment of the Co-ordinated Local Aquaculture Management (CLAMs) process (1) which is a bay-by-bay system of communication and networking for multi-user bays
- The establishment of the Molluscan Shellfish Safety Committee which meets 4 times a year to review data on biotoxins and microbiological levels, agree a co-ordinated response between industry and relevant state agencies to legislative changes relating to shellfish food safety and implement the Code of Practice of marine toxins and the Code of Practice on Microbiological Safety (2)
- Each year the ISA represents its members in the review of Classification of Shellfish Areas with the Seafood Protection Authority
- ISA took a successful complaint against the Irish Government for failure to implement EC Directive 79/923 on the Quality of Shellfish Waters and is monitoring this Directive now to keep DG ENV informed
- ISA is working with the Government on the licensing of shellfish areas within NATURA 2000 areas and is the lead participant for EMPA in the current development of guidelines for aquaculture in NATURA 2000 with DG ENV
- ISA also helps co-ordinate research priorities with Government and EMPA and is involved in various projects currently including the establishment of an Irish oyster broodstock programme, the BIVALIFE project, the MUSSELSALIVE project and CONSENSUS.
Richie Flynn has an M.Sc in Science Communication and has worked with the ISA since 1997 and on finfish farming since 1990. Richie was president of the ACFA Working Group 2 on Aquaculture for DG MARE from 2000 to 2010. He is a board member of the Irish Marine Institute – the national research body from 2001 to the present day. He is the EMPA president since 2010.
2 http://sfpa-ie.access.secure-ssl- servers.biz/modules/tinymce/tinymce/jscripts/tiny_mce/plugins/filemanager/files/files/Microbiological%20Code %20Of%20Practice.pdf