Education to bring net gains for Irish seafood sector


New Aquabusiness Programme Tackles Delivering Next Generation of Seafood Experts

Equipping the Irish seafood sector with the proper and relevant skills in business, financial management, marketing, law and innovation is essential to its sustainability and growth in a post-Brexit era.

This is according to international fisheries and aquaculture expert Dr. Sigurđur Grétar Bogason who has more than 30 years of industry and academic research experience in the international seafood sector.

Dr. Bogason was speaking at the official launch at Wexford County Council offices today of the Higher Diploma in Business in Aquabusiness at Institute of Technology Carlow Wexford Campus, a new academic programme tailored for the next generation of seafood producers, managers and entrepreneurs. The course is the only Level 8 programme of its kind in the country and is collaboration between Institute of Technology Carlow, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) and IFA Aquaculture.

“In Iceland, there are now three universities delivering programmes for the seafood sector, one of which, in the north of the country, is a three-year degree course. Many of the key figures in the seafood sector are graduates of this programme”, said Dr. Bogason. “Now with BREXIT looming ahead and increasing concerns about how trade will fare in the changed environment, companies in the seafood sector have started to prepare their own scenarios and are putting strategies in place to meet any upcoming challenges. Equipping the sector with the education and skills it needs is essential to the realisation of a strong and sustainable seafood sector that can meet whatever challenges lie ahead”.

The Higher Diploma in Business in Aquabusiness aims to expand Ireland’s global seafood sector. According to BIM’s recently published Business of Seafood report, the seafood industry in Ireland currently employs more than 14,000 people and the Government policy document Harvesting Our Ocean’s Wealth 2012 highlights training as essential to the continued growth of the sector. Designed to assist producers, managers and entrepreneurs, the programme has strong links with industry and includes lectures, work placement, guest lecturers and site visits.

Speaking at the launch at Wexford County Council offices today, Dr. Janette Davies, Deputy Head of Wexford Campus and who is course director of the Higher Diploma in Business in Aquabusiness at Institute of Technology Carlow Wexford Campus said, “The Higher Diploma in Business in Aquabusiness is the only Level 8 programme of its kind in the country. Its content is the result of collaboration with our industry partners, BIM and IFA Aquaculture, to ensure it is specifically tailored for the needs of the seafood sector and its pioneering nature means that we have students travelling the length and breadth of the country to participate in this programme at Institute of Technology Carlow Wexford Campus.”

Also speaking at today’s launch Jim O’Toole, CEO of BIM said, “The Diploma in Business in Aquabusiness being launched today forms part of BIM’s wider education and skills strategy and will help to future-proof Ireland’s burgeoning seafood sector. Last year the Irish seafood sector recorded its third consecutive year of growth, with its value up 6.4% on the previous year, to contribute €1.15 billion to Ireland’s GDP. It’s vital that men and women working in Ireland’s seafood sector are equipped with the right set of skills and knowledge.  The continued success of the sector is dependent on having a skilled workforce.”

Director of Irish Mussel Seed Company Kate Dempsey, recently awarded Wicklow’s Best Young Entrepreneur by the Wicklow Enterprise Office and who is a finalist in the upcoming Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) awards, is amongst the first intake of students currently on the HDip in Business in Aquabusiness.  Speaking at today’s launch, she said, “As an entrepreneur you must to have a good understanding of all aspects of your business - marketing, finance, economics, law and strategic innovation, to name a few. The HDip in Business in Aquabusiness has increased my understanding in all of these areas and enabled me to confidently promote and develop Irish Mussel Seed Company in a positive way.  I believe this course will be instrumental in the creation of some of the future leaders of the aquaculture and fisheries industries who will undoubtedly compete globally with the same confidence that I have gained from my participation on this course”.