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Minister Coughlan opens 2007 World Seafood Congress in Dublin

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mary Coughlan TD, today opened the seventh World Seafood Congress in Dublin's Croke Park Conference Centre. The Congress is being co-organised by Irish government agencies Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Food Safety Authority of Ireland and Enterprise Ireland.

In excess of 400 seafood and food safety professionals from across the globe are attending the three-day conference and exhibition to discuss the complex challenge of balancing a spiralling worldwide consumer demand for seafood with the development of sustainable global fisheries.

Minister Coughlan told delegates of the necessity to develop a profitable but sustainable fishing sector: "While the global fisheries sector needs to be a primary source of wealth creation, we must ensure all future development of our industry is conducted in a sustainable way with respect to our stocks and the environment."

Commenting specifically on the domestic seafood sector the Minister added: "Our seafood sector enjoys a uniquely strong and growing demand for its products. This means that the challenge for us here in Ireland is not so much one of generating greater volumes of seafood sales but of having the true value of seafood, as a health giving super-food, realised by the consumer."

Renowned scientist Professor Michael Crawford, Director of the Institute of Brain Chemistry & Human Nutrition, London will deliver the Congress's keynote address. He leads a line-up of world-class experts and commentators from Ireland, the UK, Sweden, Spain, the USA, Canada, Australia, Japan and Africa to cover the programme's range of lectures, debates, plenary and breakout sessions.

Professor Crawford's presentation will focus on how a lack of seafood in the modern diet may be contributing to the rising tide of mental illness currently plaguing the developed world.

Congress sessions on "Seafood Standard Certification - Making the Label Stick", "The Reality of Microbiological and Virological Risks", "Key Import Authority Requirements for Seafood" and "The Exporter's View of the Global Market" figure in a raft of subject matter tailored to appeal to attending seafood companies and seafood professionals from all areas of the industry.

The programme session on "The Retailer's Perspective on the Changing Seafood Market" will hear contributions from retailers Wal-Mart, Tesco, the UK's Young's/Foodfest Group and the Barry Group, Canada on their current market strategies for managing consumer trends and expectation that pressure for the delivery of a rapidly increasing range of safe, healthy and convenient seafood products. The leading trends in today's fast moving seafood market will be revealed in detail.

Against this consumer-driven background the necessity to develop functional foods from seafood will be increasingly important for the global seafood sector as will be shown by an in-depth report on the progress of the EU research project SeafoodPlus, when it presents WSC delegates with its breaking news "New Concepts for Value-added Functional Seafood Products".

The Congress will also stage the BIM "Great Debate" on its closing day. The debate will see the Congress enter into the current controversy "Is eating seafood the best way to get those all-important Omega 3s into your diet and into your children's diet?"

Speakers invited to lead the debate on the crucial importance of Omega-3 in human nutrition and whether the benefits of eating fish outweigh those derived from taking supplements include Dr. Alex Richardson, who will focus on her compelling research findings on the dietary role Omega 3 plays in early childhood cognitive development. The WSC "Great Debate" will also see the return of WSC opening speaker Dr. Michael Crawford as well as valuable contributions by Dublin-based guest speakers Dr Patrick Wall, Chairman, European Food Safety Authority and Paula Mee, well-known consultant nutritionist and food and health advisor. The debate will be chaired by Ireland's celebrated broadcaster, Miriam O'Callaghan.

Commenting on behalf of the 2007 WSC, Congress moderator Donal Maguire, BIM said: "Ireland is honoured to have been chosen to host the World Seafood Congress. This prestigious event offers us an excellent opportunity to showcase our country and to demonstrate why Ireland's innovative fishing, aquaculture and food safety industries will continue to perform very competitively and successfully at a global level."

Dr John O'Brien, CEO, FSAI said: "Annually, Irish people eat less than half the quantity of fish consumed in other parts of the world (7.2 Kg/person/year as compared to 16.5 Kg/person/year). By contrast, we eat seven times more beef, pork and poultry than fish, with only one fifth of the Irish population eating two or more portions of fish on a weekly basis. It is disheartening that fish is not viewed as a valuable health enhancing food product here like it is in other countries throughout Europe and the world. The health benefits of eating fish need to be more widely appreciated by Irish people."

Commenting at the launch Mike Feeney, Executive Director, Enterprise Ireland said: "Enterprise Ireland is delighted to sponsor the World Seafood Congress 2007. The Congress affords participants from all over the world the opportunity to come together, share their experiences and explore opportunities for profitable future relationships."

Details of the Congress programme are available from the Congress website  where delegates can also register online for a very limited number of remaining delegate places.

25 September 2007

Date Released: 25 September 2007