Irish Seafood Industry Seeks Seat at Table in Offshore Renewable Energy Plans

The Seafood Industry Representatives' Forum (SIRF) cautiously welcomes Ireland's updated Future Framework Policy Statement for Offshore Renewable Energy, citing concerns about the impact on fishermen and shellfish farmers. SIRF calls for a working group to address socio-economic and environmental priorities and ensure the seafood industry's inclusion in offshore renewable energy plans.

author-image
Aqsa Younas Rana
New Update
Irish Seafood Industry Seeks Seat at Table in Offshore Renewable Energy Plans

Irish Seafood Industry Seeks Seat at Table in Offshore Renewable Energy Plans

The Seafood Industry Representatives' Forum (SIRF), a collective of eight Irish fishing and aquaculture industry representative organizations, has given a cautious welcome to the updated Future Framework Policy Statement for Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) published by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications. While accepting the need for offshore renewable energy development to tackle climate change, SIRF Chairman John Lynch emphasized that fishermen and shellfish farmers are likely to be adversely impacted.

Why this matters: The integration of the seafood industry into offshore renewable energy plans is crucial for ensuring the long-term sustainability of both industries, as well as the livelihoods of coastal communities. Failure to do so could result in unintended environmental and socio-economic consequences that undermine the effectiveness of renewable energy initiatives.

The revised policy recognizes fishing, aquaculture, and processing as vital socio-economic activities and sources of income and employment for coastal communities. It also acknowledges the potential socio-economic impacts of ORE on communities, including visual impact, construction disturbance, and economic displacement. Importantly, the policy underscores the need for the State to undertake socio-economic and environmental cost-benefit analyses before incremental changes are agreed in key areas.

Lynch stressed the need for "proper consideration of wider socio-economic and environmental priorities, along with benefits to local communities." He called for the establishment of a working group comprising seafood industry representatives and officials from the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications to find solutions to problems threatening the orderly rollout of offshore renewables.

"Rather than portray fishermen as the bad guys trying to prevent ORE, we should, instead, give proper consideration to the wider socio-economic and environmental priorities along with the benefits to local communities," Lynch said. "This is the best way to help facilitate a stable political consensus and drive investment."

The policy includes Action 21, which provides for the establishment of government/stakeholder working groups to provide opportunities for policy input. SIRF also noted the publication of the draft South Coast Designated Maritime Area Plan for Offshore Renewable Energy (SC-DMAP) and will make a submission on it in due course. The revised Future Framework recognizes the importance of policies that ensure seafood and commercial fishing activity can continue to take place within and around windfarm areas where appropriate.

Lynch emphasized the importance of getting this right, saying "Future generations will not thank us if we do not get this right." The Irish seafood industry is seeking inclusion in offshore renewable energy plans to ensure their concerns are heard and addressed. The Future Framework Policy Statement for Offshore Renewable Energy, announced by Minister Eamon Ryan on May 12, 2024, outlines plans for offshore wind projects off Ireland's south coast, which has raised concerns among seafood industry representatives about the potential impact on their operations.

Key Takeaways

  • Ireland's seafood industry cautiously welcomes updated offshore renewable energy policy.
  • Fishermen and shellfish farmers may be adversely impacted by offshore wind projects.
  • Integration of seafood industry into ORE plans is crucial for long-term sustainability.
  • Revised policy recognizes socio-economic impacts on coastal communities and need for cost-benefit analyses.
  • Seafood industry seeks inclusion in ORE plans to ensure concerns are heard and addressed.