A Donegal seafood company is bringing a unique Irish species of tuna – wild Irish Albacore – back into the country.
Fishermen caught 2,583 tonnes of the premium tuna off the coast of Ireland in 2016 – but all of it was leaving the country.
The owners of Shines Seafood, a family-run business in Killybegs, realised the quota was going abroad and stepped in.
The family had previously discovered the delicious Albacore tuna while working with a Basque fishing company. They decided to act.
Husband and wife team John and Marianne launched Shines Seafood in April 2015 to bring Albacore tuna to the Irish retail sector for the first time.
The company now works with Irish fishermen to source the fish and, working with their Basque Country contacts, packages it in glass jars and tins under their own brand.
The couple’s daughter Ciara, who was a participant on ACORNS, a government-run programme for female entrepreneurs in rural areas, is also working in the business.
“The idea was originally a small part of a fishmongers that we opened for a short time in Donegal town.
"We wanted to sell high-quality Irish seafood products and other related products to complement our fresh fish sales,” said John Shine.
“It was here that we first realised that the quota for Albacore tuna was not staying in Ireland, but being exported.
“By introducing the product into the Irish retail market, we are increasing social sustainability by supporting Irish fishermen and small Irish fishing communities, like the one we live in ourselves.”
John worked as a fisherman for years and Marianne worked for a fish buyer based in the Basque Country.
Preserved in olive oil, Shines Wild Irish Tuna is now stocked in 200 SuperValu stores nationwide.
It is also sold in high-end independent shops including Avoca, Fallon and Byrne and Cavistons.
The company hopes to export soon into Britain, the US and Russia.
Albacore tuna is more moist and delicate than other species and contains significantly more health-giving Omega-3 fats.
The migratory species comes within reach of the Irish fishing fleet at the end of August when it is caught in very large numbers for a few weeks.
Shines Seafood sells a 227g glass jar of Albacore tuna loins, preserved in olive oil, for €5.90.