Project Status - Complete
Start Year: 1998
End Year: 2002
Funding Body: Marine RTDI
Geographic Area: Irish coastal zone
Local Study Area: Irish coastal zone
Project Co-Ordinator: Valerie Cummins (MERC3)
CMRC Contact: Michelle Cronin
When this study was commissioned by the Marine Institute in 1998, the common periwinkle Littorina littorea was collected widely by hand from rocky shores around the coast of Ireland. The industry created from this harvest was considered to be valuable both in terms of employment and export earnings (approximately £5 million worth of periwinkles exported each year). The industry did however face a number of problems with wholesalers finding it increasingly difficult to obtain medium to large sized winkles (greater than 16mm in height), which the continental market requires.
At the time, many rural communities around the coast of Ireland relied on part time periwinkle harvesting as an additional source of income. This was particularly important during the winter months when alternative employment from farming and other seasonal work was limited and prices for winkles were higher.
France is the primary market for Irish periwinkles, with an increase in market demand at Christmas time driving the prices up from approximately £1,000, to £1,700/tonne. Official figures estimated by BIM show that 1,500t of periwinkles are exported annually, however unofficial figures provided by periwinkle wholesalers show that in reality almost 7,000t are exported each year (Irish Shellfish Association AGM, 1997). The difficulty in obtaining accurate details on export earnings stems from the unregulated nature of the periwinkle industry itself.
The final report documents the changing nature of the periwinkle industry in light of the impact of the Celtic Tiger economy in rural Ireland at the time of the study.