Type to search




Legality and sustainability key concerns for Irish consumers.

– New research for Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority shows most consumers feel more needs to be done to safeguard Ireland’s marine resources –

– Most willing to change food buying habits as part of sustainability focus –

– Strong consumer support for reporting of illegal activity –

While quality is the main priority of Irish consumers (96%) when buying fish or shellfish, knowing it has been caught legally (85%) and in a sustainable manner (87%) have emerged as major concerns too, on par with price (87%). These are among the findings from a new survey¹ of consumers who eat fish regularly commissioned by the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA), the independent statutory body responsible for the regulation of the sea-fisheries and the sea-food production sectors.

The vast majority of those surveyed (92%) believe more should be done to safeguard the sustainability of Ireland’s marine resources. There is overwhelming support for the reporting of illegal fishing to the authorities (90%) with most (77%) consumers saying that they would not buy fish if they knew it was illegally caught. The importance of traceability also featured strongly in the results, especially amongst younger consumers, with almost half (48%) of those aged under 35 saying that having greater confidence in the traceability of a product would encourage them to eat more fish on a regular basis.

Tim Donovan, Authority Member, SFPA commented:

“Like many other parts of the economy, the sea-fisheries and seafood sector has seen some constriction of activity and sales due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Nonetheless the resilience of the sector and the potential for further development of domestic and overseas markets is widely acknowledged. Consumer trust in the quality, provenance and safety of Ireland’s seafood produce is critical to achieving these ambitions and cannot be overstated. It is essential to the reputation and future success of the sea-fisheries and seafood sectors which so many communities around the coast rely on for a living.”

“Everyone linked to the sea-fisheries and seafood sectors must remain attuned and responsive to this, doing everything they can to assure that trust. Fundamental to this is regulatory compliance and where people believe sea-fishing related activity to be suspicious, illegal, or potentially harmful to fish stocks, reporting these concerns to us.”

“As the research shows, consumers feel very strongly about sustainable and legal fishing. The public can play an important part too in safeguarding marine resources and assuring trust in seafood. Anyone who comes across any suspicious sea-fishing activity in their localities can report it to us, which they can do anonymously and confidentially.”

The research highlighted that concern for environmental matters is very high amongst consumers – particularly for aspects relating to the marine environment. Most regular consumers of fish (82%), especially those living in coastal areas, are willing to change their buying habits to reduce their impact on marine resources while three out of four (78%) stated they only want to buy fish that is caught in a way that does not deplete stocks.

Ireland’s seafood economy is valued at an estimated €1.09bn² per annum with domestic consumption accounts for 37% of this figure. Currently the industry supports over 16,000 livelihoods² with over 1,994³ Irish-registered vessels, 309 aquaculture production units² and 160 seafood processors².

Anyone who wishes to report suspected illegal sea-fishing activity can contact the SFPA Confidential Line on 1800 76 76 76, by email at confidential@sfpa.ie or through the SFPA’s website,  SFPA.ie/Confidential-Line.

¹ Research
conducted online by Amárach Research on a total sample of 1,500 adults during 8th -21st December 2021.

²Bord Iascaigh Mhara Bord Iascaigh Mhara: The Business of Seafood 2020 A Snapshot of Ireland’s Seafood Sector.
Published March 2021. [LINK]

³Licensing Authority https://www.gov.ie/en/organisation-information/5907a-sea-fisheries-administration/