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Research Highlighted in Minister Heydon’s Visit to the Marine Institute

7th March 2022
Martin Heydon T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for Research and Development, Farm Safety, and New Market Development with Annaclare McCarthy, Marine Institute scientist
Martin Heydon T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for Research and Development, Farm Safety, and New Market Development with Annaclare McCarthy, Marine Institute scientist Credit: Andrew Downes

Martin Heydon T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for Research and Development, Farm Safety, and New Market Development at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), visited the Marine Institute’s headquarters in Oranmore, Co Galway today.

The innovative research programmes being undertaken by the Marine Institute were highlighted during Minister Heydon’s visit. In presentations by Marine Institute scientists, Minister Heydon was provided with an overview of four significant research projects funded by DAFM.

Minister Heydon said, “It has been a pleasure to see the exemplary science being undertaken by the Marine Institute and how funding from DAFM is enabling applied research in the areas of aquaculture, fisheries and marine planning. It is also important to see the collaborative approach in these research projects, where Marine Institute scientists are working together with industry and third-level institutions, to enable Ireland’s fisheries and aquaculture sectors to grow sustainably.”

Dr Niall McDonough, Director of Policy, Innovation and Research Services at the Marine Institute said, “We are delighted to welcome Minister Heydon to the Marine Institute to see our facilities and meet with our scientific researchers. Research is central to the services we provide to industry, government and stakeholders in Ireland. The research funding provided by DAFM, enables the Marine Institute to continue delivering new knowledge and innovation which supports Ireland’s marine sector.”

During his visit, the Minister Heydon learned about some of the projects that have been funded through the DAFM competitive research programme. The FishKOSM project, led by Prof Dave Reid of the Marine Institute, set out to reconsider the Maximum Sustainable Yield of commercial fisheries by looking at the wider ecosystem. The project team looked at the relationship between fishing and the ecosystem, and changes in that relationship. The project outcome means that fisheries managers can be provided with a more nuanced view of Maximum Sustainable Yield, when considering commercial fish stocks as part of a wider and dynamic ecosystem. This allows advice on exploitation to be provided that considers sustainability in a holistic way, and not just in terms of an individual stock.

The PSPSafe project, led by Dave Clarke of the Marine Institute, is investigating the increasing abundance and distribution of Paralytic Shellfish Toxins – a group of naturally occurring marine toxins which can occur in shellfish and cause serious illness to humans if consumed. In collaboration with University College Dublin and Galway Mayo Institute of Technology, this research project aims to develop risk management strategies and predictive forecasting tools to provide an early warning system for the aquaculture industry and regulatory authorities, while also providing increased food safety assurances to consumers, and ensuring the high quality and reputation of Irish shellfish.

Bivalve molluscs such as mussels, oysters, clams and cockles, have a significant socio-economic and ecological role to play in Irish marine coastal communities and environments. Dr Oliver Tully from the Marine Institute is collaborating with University College Cork on the BIVALVE research project, which seeks to bridge research and practice to improve the future sustainability and growth of the Irish shellfish industry. The involvement of industry stakeholders is integral to the project with the final output ultimately to recommend, implement and monitor best practices for smart sustainable production to increase profitability in this sector, as well as preserving important ecosystem services for the marine environment.

Finally, the SEERAC (Spatially Explicit Ecological Risk Assessment for Conservation) project, involving Dr Oliver Tully and the National University of Ireland Galway, focuses on the planning and organisation of activities in the marine environment. Different human activities and industry sectors are competing for space and there is also an underlying requirement to conserve and protect marine habitats and species. This project sought to develop expertise in Ireland on the use of risk assessments and methods for conservation planning to support advice to government.

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Marine Science Perhaps it is the work of the Irish research vessel RV Celtic Explorer out in the Atlantic Ocean that best highlights the essential nature of marine research, development and sustainable management, through which Ireland is developing a strong and well-deserved reputation as an emerging centre of excellence. From Wavebob Ocean energy technology to aquaculture to weather buoys and oil exploration these pages document the work of Irish marine science and how Irish scientists have secured prominent roles in many European and international marine science bodies.

 

At A Glance – Ocean Facts

  • 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by the ocean
  • The ocean is responsible for the water cycle, which affects our weather
  • The ocean absorbs 30% of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity
  • The real map of Ireland has a seabed territory ten times the size of its land area
  • The ocean is the support system of our planet.
  • Over half of the oxygen we breathe was produced in the ocean
  • The global market for seaweed is valued at approximately €5.4 billion
  • · Coral reefs are among the oldest ecosystems in the world — at 230 million years
  • 1.9 million people live within 5km of the coast in Ireland
  • Ocean waters hold nearly 20 million tons of gold. If we could mine all of the gold from the ocean, we would have enough to give every person on earth 9lbs of the precious metal!
  • Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world – Ireland is ranked 7th largest aquaculture producer in the EU
  • The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean in the world, covering 20% of the earth’s surface. Out of all the oceans, the Atlantic Ocean is the saltiest
  • The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world. It’s bigger than all the continents put together
  • Ireland is surrounded by some of the most productive fishing grounds in Europe, with Irish commercial fish landings worth around €200 million annually
  • 97% of the earth’s water is in the ocean
  • The ocean provides the greatest amount of the world’s protein consumed by humans
  • Plastic affects 700 species in the oceans from plankton to whales.
  • Only 10% of the oceans have been explored.
  • 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year, equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.
  • 12 humans have walked on the moon but only 3 humans have been to the deepest part of the ocean.

(Ref: Marine Institute)

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