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Maritime, Fishing & Aquaculture

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At a Glance... header image

Maritime, Fishing & Aquaculture

Ireland is one of the largest EU States, with a marine territory of approximately 880,000km, more than ten times our landmass.

11,000 people are employed directly and indirectly in the seafood industures and the sector grew 7.4% in 2016.

The sector can be divided into Maritime, Fishing and Aquaculture and includes activities such as sea fisheries, seafood processing, seaweed processing, Marine Science (oil and gas exploration, marine biology and marine renewable energy production), and Marine Commerce (financial, legal, insurance services).

In Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth the Government set a 2020 target of exceeding €6.4bn in annual turnover drawn from a diverse range of marine sectors:

 maritime careers

Projected annual turnover to 2020 > €6.4 Billion

Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth
is the Integrated Marine Plan (IMP), setting out the roadmap for the Government’s vision to enable our Marine potential to be realised.

Read the plan

Opportunities with Irish in this Sector
Maritime header image

Water-based Tourism and Leisure, Shipping and Maritime Transport, and Seafood, are the three main areas the Irish marine sector. Associated marine related career areas include:
  • The cruise industry
  • Services such as Boat Building
  • Marine Construction, Engineering and manufacturing activities
  • Offshore  exploration e.g. hydrocarbon and extraction

Career areas in this sector include a wide range of entry level jobs, through to professional engineers, skilled technicians and trained scientists.

Water-based Tourism and Leisure Activities

This segment includes leisure activities such as Sea Angling (boat and shore); Water sports (sailing, boating, water skiing, jet skiing, surfing, kayaking, scuba diving etc); Seaside resorts/trips (Swimming, Bird watching, Whale/Dolphin Watching, Nature reserves, and eco tourism etc). 
See also Tourism & Hospitality Sector.

Shipping and Maritime Transport

Life at sea with the Merchant Marine has always appealed to young people who want to combine travel with a challenging career offering exciting future prospects. This is the life for those who relish the challenge of working with the sea - one of nature's most powerful and temperamental elements.

Shipping includes bulk freight, container shipping, and passenger transportation. There are several large well-established firms in this area, who are involved in freight services only, or in both freight and passenger services (e.g Stenaline. P&O Ferries, Irish Ferries). There are also private ship owners operating in the sector.

The cruise industry is probably the most exotic career area in this sector. Although no cruise liners embark at Irish Ports, over 150 dock at the larger Irish ports every year, and they are becoming increasingly magnificent in size and scale.

Modern technology is used extensively in many areas on board the merchant ship of today, with great emphasis being placed on safety and protection of the environment.

Despite the 'hi-tech' aspects of ship operations, seafarers must remain very much in tune with the natural environment in which they operate and the basic principles of seafaring. There are normally two main departments on board, the Deck and the Engine.

The Deck department is concerned with the overall operation of the ship and its responsibilities include navigation, communications, cargo and stability, maintenance and safety.

The Engine room department is responsible for all technical services including main engine propulsion, other plant and machinery, and electrical generation.

Careers in this area include: Master (Captain); Ship owner and operator; Chief Mate (Officer); 2nd Mate; 3rd Mate; Seaman; Port and Maritime Logistics (Shipping agent and Broker; Ship manager; Liner and Port agent; Stevedore; Radio operator, Loading Operator; Customs clearance officer; Freight forwarder; and Safety and Training related roles.
See also Transport & Logistics Sector

Featured Content


Fishing & Aquaculture header image

There are four main activities in the Irish Seafood Industry: Fishing, Fish Farming (Aquaculture), Seafood Processing and Seafood Marketing. The industry employs approximately 11,000 people with 5,000 people in the catching sector, 2,000 engaged in fish farming, and upwards of 3,000 in processing and ancillary aquaculture around the coast.

Source: The Business of Seafood ~ BIM


People engaged in commercial fishing harvest fish and shellfish from their natural habitat and depend for their livelihood on a naturally replenishing sustainable supply of fish and shellfish. There are approximately 2,040 vessels in the Irish fishing fleet which represents approximately 2% of the total European fishing fleet capacity.

Some fishermen work on small inshore day boats often in sight of land. Crews are small - usually only two or three people and the catch is landed fresh that day. Others fish offshore on larger vessels on trips lasting days or weeks away from their home port, depending on the type and size of vessel. Navigation and safety skills are vital for all of those who work on the water, irrespective of the size of vessel. BIM provides a three day Basic Safety Training course which is a statutory requirement for all fishing vessel crewmembers, who are also obliged to wear Personal Flotation Devices.

Video: A career in sea fishing from Bord Iascaigh Mhara

Large boats require a crew that includes a skipper (the person in charge of a fishing vessel), a mate and engineer and highly skilled deckhands to operate the fishing gear, sort and pack the catch when it is brought on board and aid in the general operation of the vessel. Every day brings fresh challenges and modern vessels are highly sophisticated with an incredible array of hi-tech navigation and fishing equipment, which requires skill and experience to master. BIM is the agency responsible for training in the fishing industry and offers a wide range of courses and demand for crew members at all levels is still strong.


Aquaculture is the farming of fish, shellfish and seaweed. According to EU figures, Ireland has the 7th largest aquaculture sector in the EU and produces almost 50,000 tons of aquaculture annually, with over 1,950 jobs in the area. 

Fish farming is a growth area attracting people to work as farm managers, marine biologists, divers and highly skilled operatives who can detect changes in fish and shellfish behaviour and respond appropriately. There is consensus that aquaculture will be the main provider of fish and seafood in the future.

The work is very varied and more like that of a farmer than a fisherman, but the same skills that apply to fishing easily transfer across to aquaculture. Instead of leaving it all to mother nature, there is now a huge industry in breeding, rearing and harvesting a range of fish, shellfish and seaweed - and terrific training opportunities courtesy of BIM.

Video: A career as an Oyster Farmer from Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM)

Oyster farming

Oyster farming is the largest employment sub-sector in aquaculture, employing 1,300 people and providing a valuable source of work in many coastal areas of Ireland. Over 90% of Irish oysters are exported, the majority going to France, however 2016 saw major growth of Irish oyster exports going to Hong Kong and China. The market for Irish oysters in these countries was actively targeted by Irish producers, with the assistance of BIM. Irish oysters have received a warm welcome and command a premium price in these markets - they are now the highest priced oysters in this region.

Salmon farming

Salmon farming has increased by 24% to 16,300 tonnes and is valued at €105 million to the Irish economy. 211 people are employed in Salmon Fishing in Ireland.

Shellfish farming

Shellfish farming is valued at €51 million with oysters accounting for €38 million of this and the mussel farming industry valued at €13 million. Shellfish farming is labour intensive - over 1,200 aquaculture jobs are in shellfish production, including mussels and oysters.

Seafood Processing

The seafood processing sector is concentrated in the coastal regions of Donegal, Galway, Cork, Kerry and the South East. There are approximately 200 firms, mainly SMEs, engaged in handling, distribution and processing of fish. BIM surveys show less than 5% of these companies have more than 50 people employed fulltime, while a significant number of small operators supply a local market or sell to niche market outlets.

Video: A Career in Processing, Research & Development and Marketing from Bord Iascaigh Mhara(BIM)

Seafood Marketing

The marketing of Irish seafood is an area that is performing well. €340 million worth of Irish is seafood sold at home annually. International markets include Europe, Africa and the Far East, with key export markets being France, Spain, Britain, Germany, Italy and Nigeria. The majority of exported Irish seafood goes to Europe, but emerging markets, including Korea, Hong Kong and Russia offer significant growth opportunities for the sector. 

Learn more about Careers in the Seafood Industry with BIM here.

Featured Content


Marine Science & Technology header image

There are many exciting career opportunities in the areas of Marine Science and Technology including:

  • High Tech Products/Services - e.g. chemical, biological, acoustic sensors;
  • Marine information and Communication technology; 
  • Marine Commerce - e.g. Marine Financial, Legal and Insurance Services
  • Biotechnology and Bioproducts - products and processes from marine organisms, applications in drug development, bio medical devices, food ingredients, industrial chemicals;
  • Marine Renewable Energy - harnessing natural wind and tidal energy resources

Oil and Gas Exploration

Ireland has been a producer of gas since the first Irish offshore well was drilled in the Celtic Sea in 1970. Activities in this area include exploration for oil and gas, and the extraction and production of gas. 

The State has opened new areas for exploration licensing off the West Coast, and the oil and gas industry is again turning its attention to Ireland with greater vigour. In addition, recent discoveries of both oil and gas in the Celtic Sea, while not yet declared commercial, have underscored the potential of this area

Occupations required in oil and gas exploration include Geologist, Geophysicist, Drilling engineer, Production engineeer as well as several Specialised General Operative Roles (Roustabout, Derrickman, Toolpusher, Rig superintendent)

Featured Content


Marine Engineering & Services header image

The area of Marine Engineering and Services includes the manufacture, repair and servicing of boats, sail-making, fishing nets, marine instruments, aquaculture technology, and marine industrial engineering.

The companies operating in this sector are typically small, but there are several in Ireland and significant numbers worldwide.

Occupations employed include: Boat builder; Welder; Marine engineer; Mechanical designer; and Carpenter among others.

Featured Content


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Useful Links header image
Total Records: 20
Full Address
Phone Number
National Fisheries College, Greencastle, Co. Donegal.
(074) 938 1068
29 – 31 Adelaide Road, Dublin, 2.
(01) 678 2554
Agriculture House, Kildare St., Dublin, 2.
(01) 607 2000
Irish Farm Centre, Bluebell, Dublin, 12.
(01) 450 0266
Wilton Park House, Wilton Place, D02 NT99, Dublin 2, Ireland
(01) 775 39 00
HQ Swords Business Campus, Swords, Co. Dublin.
(01) 884 2600
19 Aylesbury, Clonmacken, Ennis Road, Limerick.
(087) 6566610
PO Box 3111, LANCING, BN15 5BQ, UK
(0044) 190 3218269
Suite No. 2119, Fitzwilliam Business Centre, 26, Upper Pembroke St., Dublin, 2.
(01) 637 3996
78A Patrick St., Dunlaoighre, Co. Dublin.
(01) 284 4601
Headquarters, Rinville, Oranmore, Co. Galway
(091) 387 200
Irish Coast Guard HQ, Dept. Transport, Leeson Lane, Dublin 2
(01) 662 0922
12 Carthusian Street, London, EC1M 6EZ
(0044) 741 72800
Ringaskiddy, Co. Cork
(021) 433 5601
RNLI College, West Quay Road, Poole, Dorset, BH15 1HZ
(0044) 870 833 2000
Global Fish Farming News
92 Taney Cresent , Goatstown, Dublin, 14
(01) 298 6614
Cooperage Building UCC, Distillery Fields, North Mall, Cork
(021) 490 4541

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Sector News/Events

1 August
  BIM Radio and Safety Training
Bord Iascaigh Mhara
26 July
  Want to work in the fishing industry?
Bord Iascaigh Mhara
3 July
  BIM Now Recruiting for Level 5 Programmes
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27 June
  Aquaculture Remote Classroom unveiled at Our Ocean Wealth Summit
Bord Iascaigh Mhara
30 April
  Explorers Education Programme makes its mark around the Coast of Ireland
Marine Institute