Unique course strengthens seafood sector
Graduates from a third-level course unique to Wexford have received their medals along with those all-important diplomas at a special ceremony in the National Opera House.
The Higher Diploma in Business in Aqua-business is ran by Wexford Campus of Institute of Technology Carlow and is the only course at an Irish third-level institute which deals with the seafood industry.
Developed in partnership with Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) the course offers modules in business environment (economics), strategic and innovation management, finance, marketing and law, all with a focus on the seafood sector.
As the best performing student in this year's course Abdon Ryan was awarded the Brendan O'Kelly Memorial Medal, and he said the course had been hugely beneficial. 'The company I work for, Mowi Ireland - which produces organic salmon - sponsored me to do the course. I did a business degree in Scotland years ago but this one was way better, the standard of lecturing was really good.
'We had a former Senator and barrister lecturing us, a qualified accountant, it was great to get that side of it,' said Abdon.
Richard Bates was part of the steering committee which played an instrumental role in securing the course for the Wexford Campus, and he explained why he and his colleagues had been so keen to establish the course.
'South Eastern waters were responsible for €73 million versus €34 million for the South West and €52 million for the North West in 2017, and this course aims to upskill individuals working in the fishing sectors so that they have the education and skills essential to realise a strong and sustainable seafood sector that can meet whatever challenges lie ahead.
'While agriculture and agribusiness is well catered for in Ireland at third level, this is not the case with the seafood sector, which up to now has not had a dedicated course dealing with business aspects or indeed any other aspects,' Richard said.
The best performing student in last year's course and recipient of the memorial medal was Brian O'Loan.
He works as a Regional Officer at Ireland's Seafood Development Agency and reiterated Richard's sentiments, adding that the course supplemented the food production skills already prevalent in the industry with a deeper understanding of the business and marketing side.