Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Questions (123)

Catherine Connolly


123. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the analysis his Department has carried out on the potential impacts of the importation of US lobster under the recent limited EU-US trade deal, particularly with regard to lobster fishermen here and native lobster stocks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24006/20]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

On 21 August, the EU Commission and the United States announced agreement on a package of tariff reductions on a range of products, including US live and frozen lobster products.  The EU Commission figures indicate that last year the EU27 imported €42 million of lobster products from the US (15% of overall extra-EU imports), out of a market worth €290million in total and in which EU producers are supplying less than 5% of EU consumption.  The US lobster is not the same species as the European lobster although both are fished wild which acts as a constraint on supply.  

I am aware of the uncertainty that this agreement has created for the Irish fishing industry.  If EU imports of US lobster increase significantly it could combine to further impact on prices and demand; however, the US also exports to other international markets.   Irish seafood, particularly products like lobster, rely on healthy export markets and the impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality, retail and café sectors across the EU and elsewhere has undoubtedly made 2020 a difficult trading year  For this reason, Ireland's representatives put the concerns of the Irish fishing industry on record at the recent Trade Policy Committee meeting in Brussels when the EU Commission presented the agreement.  In the meantime, Bord Bia has advised that the European lobster, the species caught in Ireland, has greater recognition which helps in maintaining a higher market position and that prices received reflect this in the EU market place.