THERE are four finalists from West Cork in the inaugural National Seafood Awards, organised by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), the winners of which will be announced on November 17th.
BIM is hosting the awards to celebrate Ireland’s €1 billion seafood sector which employs 11,000 people across the island. The finalists have been selected for their outstanding contributions in the areas of Skills, Sustainability, Innovation and Competitiveness.
The finalists from West Cork are Stephen Hurley, The Fish Shop, Glenmar Shellfish, Union Hall, in the ‘Young Fishmonger of the Year – Independent’ category (Skills); James Downing, Castletownbere, in the ‘Student of the Year’ category (Skills); DC Fish, Union Hall, in ‘Fishing Enterprise of the Year’ (Competitiveness) and Dingle Bay Seaweed, Castletownbere, in the ‘Innovation in Aquaculture’ category (Innovation);
The two other finalists from the county are Yawl Bay Seafood, Youghal, in the ‘Green Processor of the Year’ category (Sustainability) and iASC Atlantic Seafood Company of Ireland, Ballycurreen, near Cork Airport, in ‘Innovation in Seafood Processing’ (Innovation).
Stephen Hurley – has worked at Glenmar Shellfish and The Fish Shop for the past 10 years and is a finalist in the ‘Young Fishmonger of the Year – Independent’ category (Skills). He lives overlooking Union Hall pier and, as a young boy, would always be found there, taking an interest in the boats and in the daily fish catches.
Early morning starts began for Stephen when, in his teens, he became a crewman on a shrimp boat hauling shrimp pots every day. He prides himself on stocking locally-caught fish and shellfish in store and on any given day, has upwards of 25 different species and, being on first name terms with the skippers and crews, he can tell a customer exactly where their fish was caught and by whom.
In addition to his sporting prowess with Castlehaven football team, Stephen is a volunteer crew member of the recently-formed Union Hall Lifeboat Station and trained at the RNLI training college in Poole, Dorset.
James Downing – has just completed a ‘Second Hand Full Certificate of Competency’ course at the BIM National Fisheries College, Castletownbere, and was nominated for the ‘Student of the Year’ award by his two lecturers, Captain Shane Begley and Captain Ian Heffernan. With a long family tradition of fishing which saw his grandfather, father and two brothers-in-law all involved, James was always going to fish for a living.
He started in 1993 and now fishes off John D O’Sullivan’s boat, ‘Ronan Ross.’ James lives in Urhan, just outside Castletownbere, is married to Elaine and they have two small girls.
DC Fish – is owned and managed by the Deasy family, who operate a successful seafood business model that offers a ‘frozen at sea’ product range to domestic, retail and export driven wholesale seafood business. They are finalists in the ‘Fishing Enterprise of the Year’ category (Competitiveness) and have formed a partnership with a local businessman and opened a fish retail premises in Rosscarbery – Fish Seafood Deli.
The business employs 11 full-time staff and 10 part-time staff and has gone from being a retail operation to selling fresh directly to hotels and restaurants and from two mobile units. The company has also developed a range of seafood products which they launched into 20 SuperValu stores in recent months.
A significant but focused investment in facilities by DC Fish in recent years enabled under-utilised whitefish product to be frozen at sea and supplied to a developing and growing domestic market. In addition, frozen prawn products were tailored to the domestic retail and food service market. The company was one of the early adopters of the ‘frozen at sea’ method and have proven that there is significant scope to improve the profitability in both the catching and processing sectors via this process.
Dingle Bay Seaweed – began farming seaweed successfully in 2009 in Ventry Harbour in Co Kerry. The company is currently producing a range of wet and dried, milled and rough chopped seaweed products for the food, cosmetic and agricultural industries. They are finalists in the ‘Innovation in Aquaculture’ category (Innovation).
DBS has innovated its seaweed aquaculture operation, which has had a host of benefits including reduction of mooring requirements and costs in both materials and labour, reduction of costs for deployment and ease of maintenance. They have also internally developed and manufactured an automatic seaweed line seeding machine which has greatly increased productivity. www.dinglebayseaweed.ie
The shortlist for the first ever BIM National Seafood Awards features 38 finalists from across the industry in the fishing, fish farming, seafood processing and retail sectors. The panel of ten judges was chaired by Joe O’Flynn, director of AgriFood Business Partners.
Winners will be revealed by MC, Des Cahill at the Gala Awards ceremony in the Dublin this Thursday, November 17th next.