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Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority Launches Report on Seafood Trade

Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority Launches Report on Seafood Trade

Pictured on the 4th April 2023 in Unionhall, Cork, to launch the SFPA’s report on Protecting Seafood Trade 2022,  from left to right: Paschal Hayes, Executive Chairperson, SFPA; Bernard O’Donovan, National Director Trade Compliance, SFPA, and Diarmuid O’Donovan, CEO, Glenmar Shellfish.


  • Three countries account for 63% of Irish seafood exported to third countries outside the EU in 2022: Nigeria 30.7%, Egypt 21.8%, and China 10.5%.
  • In 2022, the vast majority (93.4%) of seafood exported consisted of pelagic species including Blue Whiting, Mackerel and Horse Mackerel.
  • A total of 3,670 consignments of seafood totalling 78,171 tonnes and 26 species were certified by the SFPA for export from 47 Food Businesses to 48 countries outside the EU in 2022.


The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA), today, 4th April 2023, launched its first Protecting Seafood Trade Report 2022.  The Protecting Seafood Trade 2022 report aims to highlight the important work the SFPA carries out to protect and enable the import and export of seafood. As Ireland’s Competent Authority for seafood trade compliance, the SFPA undertakes a range of activities critical to enabling Ireland’s seafood economy. Irish seafood exports in 2022 was valued at €530 million, representing a €17 million value growth in exports since the previous year. *

2022 was a challenging year for Ireland’s seafood sector with the continuing repercussions from Brexit, the fallout from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the continued impact of Covid-19 in export markets, the energy crisis and the cost-of-living crisis creating a challenging trading environment.  This was reflected in the decrease in third country (non-EU countries) exports from Ireland in 2022 to 78,171 tonnes (made up of 26 species from 47 Food Businesses to 48 countries outside the EU) from the 2021 figure of 121,395 tonnes in 2021.

Protecting seafood trade by ensuring highly functioning levels of regulatory assurance is a critical element of SFPA’s mission as the body responsible for ensuring the international integrity of Ireland’s seafood offering. The information provided in the Seafood Trade 2022 report offers analysis in terms of the key trends facing the sector at this present time and highlights an important element of SFPA’s activity as a regulator.**


Paschal Hayes, Executive Chairperson of the SFPA said:

“I am pleased to launch the first SFPA report on Seafood Trade 2022.  Ireland as a food exporting nation places significant emphasis on our position as a supplier of safe, traceable, sustainably produced high-quality food. Seafood is a valuable part of this offering. The SFPA as a regulator is conscious of our role in ensuring the integrity of our seafood and strategically in terms of how Ireland’s reputation as a food exporter of choice is dependent on all links in the chain.

Fish is highly traded in international markets. IUU fishing is a significant threat to the future of fishing. It creates an uneven playing field and jeopardises the development of sustainable fisheries on which many coastal communities globally rely for their livelihoods, including in Ireland. As regulators, we are committed to utilising all the controls available to us to help detect and deter IUU fishing and fishery products within our jurisdiction.

Regulation, including health certification, also underpins confidence in the safety of Irish seafood products, providing vital reassurance to retailers, hospitality businesses and consumers at home and abroad.  Retaining Ireland’s growing reputation for producing superior seafood is essential and the integrity of the supply chain will be all-important.

Everyone in the supply chain has a role to play in protecting it. This includes importers and exporters who can ensure the goods they handle have the correct documentation. It may be difficult to distinguish between a legally and illegally obtained fish, however robust inspection processes and accurate paperwork will tell the tale.

In 2022, the SFPA continued to develop its work in seafood trade regulation, provision of technical market access support, performing official controls in disciplines including company and product registration and certification, seafood safety and sea-fisheries conservation. Implementation and enforcement by the SFPA of EU official control regulation and fisheries conservation legislation continue to act as the regulatory baselines upon which Ireland’s robust seafood certification system is built.  Inspection and health certification of export consignments continued during another year of specific Covid-19 related challenges in order to continue to provide public health and customer assurance regarding seafood safety and quality standards that are expected in international food markets and underpinned by EU regulations.” 




Notes for Editors

*Figures taken from Bord Bia’s “Export Performance and Prospects Report 2022 – 2023” –


**Key Highlights from the Protecting Seafood Trade 2022

Trade Flows of Fish and Fishery Products Certified:

Landings by UK-registered vessels accounted for 93% of the overall total number of landings by non-EU fishing vessels into Ireland.

10,800 tonnes of Irish seafood were export-certified in line with illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing regulations.

75,457 tonnes of produce were imported from non-EU fishing vessels into Ireland.

Export Health Certificates:

78,171 tonnes and 26 species were certified for export from 47 Food Businesses to 48 countries outside the EU in 2022.


93.4% of seafood exported to third countries in 2022 consisted of pelagic species including Blue Whiting, Mackerel and Horse Mackerel.

32,791 tonnes of Blue Whiting exports to third countries in 2022 of which 58.3% went to Nigeria.