Skip to main content
European Commission logo
EU Aquaculture Assistance Mechanism

Background information

Type of species farmed (Source: 2023, EUMOFA; 2022, STECF; Ireland, personal com., January 16, 2023)

Mussel (Mytilus spp.), Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), Oyster (different species), Trout and aquatic plants. 

Type of production method (Source: 2023, EUMOFA) 

According to Eurostat, in 2021, 99% of Irish production occurred in sea and brackish water while only 1% in freshwater. The following main production methods were used: 

▪ 49% of production: off bottom in sea brackish water. 

▪ 34% of production: in cages in sea and brackish water. 

▪ 16% of production: on bottom in sea and brackish water. 

▪ 1% of production: using ponds in freshwater. 

Sector’s size (production and consumption) (Source: 2023, EUMOFA) 

  • Production (2021): 39.384 Tn; 164.216 € 
  • Consumption of fishery and aquaculture products (2021): 14,56 Kg per capita 
  • % Variation in consumption 2021/2020: -23% 

Trends (past and future) (Source: MNSPA) 

  • Food Vision 2030 Strategy: Its Vision is that Ireland will become a world leader in Sustainable Food Systems (SFS) over the next decade. The Strategy has set the objective of achieving a carbon-neutral food system by 2050, with verifiable progress by 2030, encompassing emissions, water quality and biodiversity. The Strategy also foresees the seafood sector continuing on a path of sustainable economic and environmental development by carefully managing the utilisation of sea fisheries and aquaculture. 
  • Foodwise 2025 Strategy: Is a ten-year (2016 – 2025) strategy for the development of Ireland’s agri-food sector, including seafood production and aquaculture. The goal is to ensure that the agri-food sector maximises its contribution to economic growth and exports in an environmentally sustainable manner up to 2025.

Impact of aquaculture in the country’s economy, food market and labour market (Source: MNSPA) 

Aquaculture in Ireland has grown from a cottage industry in the 1980s, now producing around 40,000 tonnes of high value finfish and shellfish whilst directly employing around 1,800 people mainly in rural locations. Worth around EUR 175 million in 2021, aquaculture is a major contributor to national seafood production and food security. While the ocean economy has been on an upwards trajectory since 2008, compared to 2018, turnover of Ireland’s ocean economy was down 7% in 2019, mainly reflecting declines in shipping, tourism and seafood sectors. Global economic developments that will most affect the performance of Ireland’s ocean economy in both the near term and medium-term: Covid, Brexit and the transition to a low-carbon economy. The indirect economic activity generated from Irish ocean economy is double that of the direct contribution.

Challenges and opportunities (Source: MNSPA) 


  • Support the roll-out of a user-friendly online aquaculture licensing and information system (AQUAMIS) that will both facilitate and speed up new operational permits and their renewal, as well as ensure a more coordinated cross-sectoral approach to aquaculture development. 
  • Climate Change: Impacts on the aquaculture sector from (i) direct physical effects, (ii) biological and ecological impacts; and (iii) indirect broader socio-economic effects. 
  • Develop an evidence-based approach for encouraging a more diverse sector with a key focus on human health, low environmental impact, low impact, low carbon aquaculture production. In line with Section 20: Maritime Area Planning Act 2021, DAFM will support a designated body, as provided for in the Act, in developing a Designated Marine Area Plan (DMAP) to reflect the strong footprint already held by Aquaculture in the marine area. Increased focus on fish welfare through improved, low stress living conditions, husbandry processes and biosecurity protocols that result in contented stock, lower mortalities and more resilient businesses. Prioritise and develop diagnostic control measures for new and emerging aquatic diseases. 
  • Develop a system for near real-time animal health reporting in Irish aquaculture. Support innovation in aquaculture and its proactive co-existence in the Irish blue economy through road-mapping, coordinated research and novel funding. 
  • Provide coordinated messaging on the sustainable, low carbon nature of Irish aquaculture production, supported by independent certification and open dialogue. 
  • To develop a comprehensive human capacity plan for Irish aquaculture to promote the sector as an attractive career option, develop leadership, management and business capacity in the sector and provide the necessary skills required over the strategy time period. 
  • Increasing organic aquaculture products: DAFM’s Organic Sector Strategy Group 2019-2025 developed a Strategy recognising the opportunities that exist for the Irish Organic Food Sector and provides clear direction for the further development of this sector to 2025. The target for the aquaculture sub-sector is to increase the quantity of salmon produced to organic standards (effectively all of Irish salmon production) from 20,000 tonnes to 26,000 tonnes.  


  • Contribute to Rural Economy: The marine bioeconomy  offering a range of potential opportunities for sustainable development and job creation in the agri-food sector in rural areas. Development and diversification of the Irish aquaculture sector has been highlighted as having the potential to promote employment and economic activity in areas impacted by Brexit. 
  • Underutilised licensed shellfish aquaculture sites. 
  • Building Brand Ireland to capitalise on the positive international perception of Ireland as a green food producer and increase penetration of premium niche markets. 
  • Increasing focus on food security. 
  • Growing recognition of seafood as a healthy dietary option. 
  • Increasing global demand for low carbon protein. 
  • Climate - Carbon Sequestration potential of seaweed aquaculture. 
  • Off-shore aquaculture sites. 
  • Potential for novel species and niche products. 
  • Scope for increased competitiveness through technology transfer & technological advances 
  • Circular economy - Potential for innovations in IMTA - new species, products, bay area. IMTA and utilisation of waste products. 
  • Blue Bioeconomy – generating innovative products and services from the marine resource. 
  • Employment potential in coastal communities. 
  • Increasing focus on food security. 
  • Under exploited domestic market with strong growth potential. 

Employment and number of enterprises (Source: MNSPA) 

The number of enterprises ranged from 279 to 306 over the ten years 2011 to 2020 and the number of employees in 2020 was 1.849. 

MNSP to develop sustainable aquaculture

Published National Strategic Plan on Aquaculture: Draft National Strategic Plan for Sustainable Aquaculture Development 2030

Summary in English of the "Published National Strategic Plan on Aquaculture": National Strategic Plan for Sustainable Aquaculture Development

Relevant Authorities

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM)

Applicable Procedures

The information can be obtained from the Aquaculture & Foreshore Management

Land-based aquaculture:  

  • Aquaculture licence 
  • Planning permission 
  • Letter of exemption for planning permission 
  • Effluent discharge licence 
  • Water Quality Analysis Report 
  • Environmental Impact Statement /Screening 
  • Appropriate Assessment 
  • Foreshore Licence (depending on location) 

Marine aquaculture:  

  • Aquaculture Licence 
  • Appropriate Assessment 
  • Environmental Impact Statement  
  • Environmental Impact Assessment Report (applications received after 16th May 2017) 
  • Foreshore licence  

Other Relevant Documents

National associations and networks

  • Irish Farmer Association (IFA), Irish Salmon Growers Association (ISGA), Irish Shellfish Association (ISA) 
  • Irish Trout Growers Group (ITGG) 

Relevant Websites

Contact Details

Name of the organisation: Aquaculture & Foreshore Management. Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) 

Email address:  

Telephone number: +353 (0) 238859500


Summary in English of the "Published National Strategic Plan on Aquaculture" for Ireland
(481.98 KB - PDF)