Ireland's seafood economy grew by 15% last year to a value of €1.26 billion, according to Bord Iascaigh Mhara.

It brings the value of the sector above 2019 levels, despite the ongoing impact of the pandemic and Brexit.

2020 was the first full year that the impact of Britain's withdrawal from the European Union was felt. One immediate knock-on was a fall in Irish fish quotas, with a 7% fall in volumes landed by Irish vessels recorded last year.

However the value of total landings still grew, driven by higher prices.

This was particularly notable with certain types of shellfish, which enjoyed a more-than 20% increase in prices following the wider reopening of the food service industry.

Brexit also led to a significant reduction in the amount of seafood trade between Ireland and the UK, according to BIM's report.

The UK had previously been Ireland's main source of seafood imports, but values there fell by 57% last year alone. The European Union is now Ireland's main source of fresh and frozen seafood.

Exports to the EU also grew last year, while seafood companies also expanded into new markets. That included tapping into demand for higher-end foods in countries like China and Japan.

"The industry continues to adapt, for example in the seafood-tech sector there are now over 50 companies employing more than 700 people - from disciplines including engineering, fintech and marketing - and financial turnover has more than doubled there in the past few years," said BIM CEO Jim O'Toole .

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"While Brexit, and the additional impacts of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement reduced quotas for key species, Government support along with private investment helped mitigate some of these impacts," he added.

Mr O'Toole said that, despite the strong performance, Government support would likely be needed again this year as seafood firms dealt with rising energy and materials costs as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.