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Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD, visited the Marine Institute in Galway today and received the Marine Institute’s annual 2022 Fish Stock Book. The detailed annual publication provides the latest impartial scientific advice on the status of 75 key fish stocks of interest to Ireland.

Minister Charlie McConalogue said, "I am delighted to visit the Marine Institute today and to receive the Fish Stock Book for 2022. This provides essential information reviewing the state of fish stocks in 2022 and provides management advice for the setting of quotas for 2023. I am pleased that the work done by the Marine Institute scientists, feeding into the work of the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES), ensures that decisions we are making at the December Fisheries Council and in negotiations with Third Countries, including the UK, are based on quality data collected over the past year and advice that has been assessed and verified. It is important that the advice and the science underpinning that advice is made accessible to industry and other stakeholders through the continued annual publication of the Fish Stock Book.”

The Minister added. “The 2022 Stock Book is showing a continued gradual increase in the number of sustainably fished stocks. This progress is giving assurance that our policy at national and EU level is making progress on delivering sustainability. Stocks of haddock, monkfish, megrim, tuna, and some of the Dublin Bay Prawn stocks have increased in recent years and continue to be sustainably fished. There are some stocks such as cod, herring and whiting that are overfished and work will continue to set management measures that will support the rebuilding of these important stocks.”

This is the 30th edition of the annual book, which contains the latest management advice used by decision makers to set sustainable catch levels and fishing quotas for 2023. The publication is an invaluable reference guide for a wide audience, including the Minister’s team of negotiators, the fishing industry, marine scientists, environmental NGOs and third level institutes.

In 2021, Irish vessels landed approximately 182,000 tonnes of wild caught fish worth more than €265 million at first sale. This, in turn, supports a valuable processing industry and other activities in our coastal communities.

Ensuring long term sustainability is a key objective of sustainable management of fish stock under the Common Fisheries policy. To that end, every year, the Marine Institute undertakes an extensive data collection programme on multiple scientific fisheries surveys, travelling approximately 23,776 nautical miles over 200 days, equating to 2,030 scientist days at sea on Ireland’s marine research vessels.

Onshore and at sea sampling programmes measure over half a million fish and estimate age for a further 56,000 individuals across all commercial species. Irish data are compiled with that from other countries through the intergovernmental organisation ICES. Marine Institute scientists play a key role in carrying out the assessments and developing the scientific evidence and advice at ICES. The Stock Book integrates the latest scientific advice from ICES with relevant information on Irish fisheries.

Dr Paul Connolly, CEO of the Marine Institute said, "The scientific advice and services provided by our scientists to stakeholders are essential to supporting a sustainable ocean economy, protecting and managing our marine ecosystems and meeting EU obligations. Our scientists participate in, and lead, international working groups that assess fish stocks and provide the independent scientific advice on how many fish can be safely removed from this renewable resource. This work is essential to sustaining the ocean economy for our coastal communities."

Dr Ciaran Kelly, Director of Fisheries Ecosystem Advisory Services at the Marine Institute said, "The arrival of Ireland’s new research vessel, the RV Tom Crean this year, provides us with a state-of-the-art platform to undertake fisheries assessments in Irish waters. The RV Tom Crean and RV Celtic Explorer, enable our scientists to gather the best scientific evidence to help inform important decisions on fisheries management, and ocean sustainability.”

The 2022 Stock Book is available electronically on the Marine Institute's website and as an interactive online application. Most of the scientific work that delivers the Marine Institute's Stock Book is funded under the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF).

Minister McConalogue was presented with the Stock Book during his visit to the Institute, where he was provided with a series of briefings and demonstrations on the important work of the Institute, including; Seabed Mapping – INFOMAR (Porcupine) linked to the Prawn Underwater TV Survey, Data Collection Framework (DCF) Surveys – Overview of DCF survey programme and spotlight on some of the key surveys involved, Ocean Observations, Climate and Biodiversity – Fisheries Advice (Evolving assessment and advice for shellfish fisheries). Seafood Safety Monitoring Programmes (Phytoplankton Laboratory) and Services to Government relating to regulation of aquaculture activities.

Published in Marine Science

Pupils of Scoil Iósaif Naofa, Oranmore Boys National School in Co Galway have been presented with the Marine Institute’s Explorers Ocean Champion Award for the Best STEM and Cross Curricular project by Hildegarde Naughton, Minister of State at the Department of Transport.

Congratulating the children and teachers involved in their healthy ocean project, ‘Ocean Aware Because We Care’, Minister Naughton said: “The Explorers Ocean Champions Award is a fantastic example of an all-inclusive school approach to learn about our local marine environment and heritage.

“The incredible effort of the teachers, children, Explorers outreach team, and the partners from local boat builders to scientists and seabed mappers from INFOMAR shows that this project went beyond the classroom and highlights the value of teaching as a community.”

As part of the Explorers Ocean Champion project and awards initiative, the programme Manager, Camden Education Trust and the Explorers Education Programme outreach teams have worked with 28 primary schools, reaching up to 3,500 children and 124 teachers across 13 coastal counties, creating ‘healthy ocean’ projects covering themes from STEM and outdoor education to the arts and ocean literacy.

The minister added: “The title of the school project called ‘Ocean Aware Because We Care’ is a wonderful slogan, as it represents the importance of learning about our ocean at a local level, so we are able to care for it now and into the future.

“The children’s extensive learning experience from visiting the displays at Galway City Museum, Galway Atlantaquaria, beach cleans coupled with school visits from the INFOMAR seabed mapping team, is a great example of local organisations working with the schools to inspire them to learn about the ocean. This project also helps open up opportunities to inspire future marine scientists and ocean champions.”

School principal Maeve Meeneghan congratulated the lead teacher Ms Lillis and the Explorers outreach officer Noirin Burke, saying: “The Explorers Ocean Champions initiative promoted a culture of improvement, collaboration, innovation and creativity in learning and teaching beyond our imagination. It empowered staff to take on and carry out leadership roles and above all else, it awakened and built on our awareness of the natural resource on our doorstep here in Oranmore.”

Published in Environment

The black seadevil anglerfish was voted as “one of the ugliest deep-sea fish species” during the launch of the new Explorers Education Programme book and resources, The Good, The Bad + The Ugly: Deep Sea Species, which took place at the Marine Institute exhibit at the Galway Science and Technology Festival 2022.

Inspired by the work of the Marine Institute’s scientists that carry out deep-sea fishing surveys on board the research vessels each year, Cushla Dromgool-Regan — Explorers strategic education and communications manager at Camden Education Trust — said she was delighted to produce a new book and resources that showcased the amazing marine wildlife that are found in the deepest parts of the ocean in Ireland and around the world.

“I love deep-sea animals and their amazing ability to adapt under extreme conditions,” she said. “The animals selected for the book were based on some of our favourite deep-sea species that we have affectionately called the good, the bad and the ugly — because of their incredible features that help them survive. Some look cute but are deadly and others look angry but are basically looking for their next meal.”

Families were introduced to some of these amazing animals at the exhibit, where they saw a display of supersized photos of the deep-sea species. The blobfish known as Mr Blobby, the viperfish with giant fangs, the hagfish that produces slime in seconds and the goblin shark with a protruding jaw were just some of the children’s favourites.

The Explorers programme team were delighted to see their mascot, the black seadevil anglerfish come in with top votes by children “who loved learning about its bioluminescent lure, expandable stomach and huge mouth that can pretty much eat anything it can get its mouth around”, Dromgool-Regan added.

“There are over 200 species of anglerfish. Among them, the species known as the monkfish can open its mouth wide enough to engulf other animals larger than itself. It is reported that monkfish have been found with birds in their stomachs including gulls, puffins and cormorants.”

‘The workbook and lessons and activities will help develop children’s STEM skills, while also increasing their engagement in the ocean’

Patricia Orme, corporate services director with the Marine Institute congratulated the Explorers team on the production of the excellent new resources.

“This will certainly generate excitement in the classroom!” she said. “The materials are packed full of photos and graphics showing the greatest explorers, ocean zones as well as the weird and wonderful creatures that call the deep-sea home.

“The workbook and lessons and activities are also really well illustrated and we are sure will help develop children’s STEM skills, while also increasing their engagement in the ocean.”

The Good, The Bad + The Ugly: Deep Sea Species and resources are free to download from the Explorers website. The Explorers team will also be delivering deep-sea species class projects with primary schools, where teachers will receive printed copies of the introductory book and workbooks with a range of cross-curricular activities for the children.

There are over 20 activities to choose from such as making an anglerfish light card — learning about electricity and circuits — to one of the Explorers teams’ favourites: creating fashion from slime, inspired by the hag fish.

The Explorers Education Programme is funded by the Marine Institute, the State agency for marine research and development, and delivered by outreach centres to primary schools around the country, as well as for Leave No Trace Ireland, Galway Atlantaquaria, Sea Synergy, Old Cork Waterworks – Lifetime Lab, Oceanics and SEASHOREKIDS.

Published in Marine Wildlife

Earlier today (Monday 14 November), Patrick O’Donovan, Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform visited the Marine Institute’s headquarters in Oranmore, Co Galway.

The minister met with the Marine Institute’s chief executive Dr Paul Connolly as well as Michael Gillooly, director of oceans, climate and information services (OCIS); Dr Glenn Nolan, manager of ocean climate services; Alan Berry, manager of offshore renewable energy and infrastructure services; and Dr Tomasz Dabrowski, team leader in ocean climate services.

Several Office of Public Works (OPW) officials were also part of the visit today, including Robert Mooney (head of planning and climate adaptation), Mark Adamson and Vincent Hussey (flood risk assessment and management).

Minister O’Donovan visited to gain an understanding of the role of the Marine Institute in climate adaptation and particularly how data is collected and used in climate modelling and monitoring, to deal with the impacts of climate change on our coastline.

As part of the visit, the Institute team gave an overview of how the climate modelling and monitoring that it manages is integrated with other parts of the national and international approach to informing the overall climate strategy.

Dr Connolly said: “We are delighted to welcome Minister O’Donovan and colleagues from the Office of Public Works to the Marine Institute to see our facilities and exchange ideas with colleagues from the OPW which contribute to addressing impacts of climate change on our coastline.”

Gillooly added: “Forecasting ocean and climate change is one of the institute’s strategic focus areas. The Marine Institute has a range of observational infrastructures around the Irish marine area continually gathering data on the marine environment.

“Over the years, we have built up significant time-series information and this data is central to developing digital services including operational modelling which inform climate mitigation and adaptation measures in areas such as sea level rise and flooding.”

The Marine Institute’s Oceans, Climate and Information Services Group provides support for national and international marine monitoring, marine mapping, research and development as well as information technology infrastructure and digital service development.

Published in Marine Science

The Marine Institute hosted its first Post-Doctoral Fellowship Symposium on Tuesday 25 October where the fellows or their supervisors presented the progress and current research findings of their projects.

These cover a wide range of topics, from the effects of climate change on fish stocks to the monitoring of seabirds around offshore wind installations using unmanned drones.
  
Marine Institute chief executive Dr Paul Connolly said: “It is great to see the breadth of research being carried out under these fellowships which will provide data and scientific evidence to inform policy and decision making on the many current global challenges including climate change mitigation, food security and marine pollution.

“We have excellent researchers using the latest technologies to observe and monitor Irish waters, investigating solutions that will achieve a sustainable low-carbon marine sector for aquaculture, fisheries, renewable ocean energy, and tourism in Ireland. The fellows’ research will also add value to the historic climate, environmental and fisheries datasets held by the Institute.”

The aim of the Post-Doctoral Fellowships Programme is to build capacity by supporting post-doctoral research positions in defined areas of strategic priority for up to four years in duration.

Researchers funded are encouraged to become self-sustaining by successfully leveraging funds under national funding initiatives and the EU Horizon Europe Programme, as well as building further capacity through the development of research teams.

The retention of the Irish researchers carrying out high-quality marine science is of national importance, the Marine Institute says — for both Ireland’s economy and society, including researchers who have received a higher degree (MSc and PhD) under the institute’s Cullen Scholarship Programme.

A total of 17 fellowships with total grant-aid of €6.4 million has been awarded for research under the Post-Doctoral Fellowships Programme from 2019 to 2022, as detailed in the table below:

Project Title

Presenter

Higher Education Institute

Modelling Ireland’s Maritime Transport Industry (MIMTI)

Dr Daniel Cassidy

University of Galway

Expanding the Deep Field Capabilities of Marine Monitoring Platforms

Dr Aoife Hegarty

Atlantic Technological University (Sligo)

Increasing coastal resilience using terrestrial and ocean-based nature-based solutions

*Dr Eugene Farrell

University of Galway

Climate Change Fish Stock Impacts

Dr Louise Vaughan

Atlantic Technological University (Galway)

Novel Mapping of the Shallow Water INFOMAR Data Set: Towards Ireland’s first Shallow Water Atlas (NOMANS_TIF)

Dr Riccardo Arosio

University College Cork

Monitoring the presence, abundance and fate of microplastics and their associated chemicals in an Irish deep water SAC’s (MoP_up)

Dr Alicia Mateos Cárdenas

University College Cork

Use of Recyclable Materials in Sustainable Marine Turbines

Dr Yadong Jiang

University of Galway

Irish marine screening and assessment of emerging contaminants in coastal and transitional environments (I-SECURE)

*Prof Fiona Regan

Dublin City University

Accelerated Seaweed Production for an Innovative and Robust Seaweed Aquaculture in Ireland (ASPIRE)

*Dr Ronan Sulpice

University of Galway

Usage of Irish Seas and Coastal Ecosystems for Tourism Development (UISCE Tourism)

Dr John Deely

University of Galway

Waves of Change (WoC): promoting sustainable development and behavioural change through ocean literacy

*Dr Róisín Nash

Atlantic Technological University (Galway)

AI-based Bird Monitoring using Long Range Unmanned Aerial Drone (AI-Bird) for Offshore RE Installations

*Dr Gerard Dooly

University of Limerick

Shark Island: enhancing sustainable shark ecotourism in Ireland

Dr Luke Cameron

Trinity College Dublin

Progressing Marine Biodiscovery in Ireland (

Dr Laurence Jennings

University of Galway

ACCAI: Decoding Arctic Climate Change: From Archive to Insight

Dr Elwyn de la Vega

University of Galway

Improvement of MI operational modelling system and observation network of Irish marine waters using state-of-the-art model with data assimilation, model parametrization and machine learning techniques

Dr Alexander Shchepetkin

University of Galway

Sustainable Aquaculture: advancing Irish Bivalve Biomass Production by Promoting Seed Abundance and more Disease resilient Stocks (SusAqua)

Dr Sharon Lynch

University College Cork

 

*Presentation by Supervisor.

These projects are supported by the Marine Institute and funded under the Marine Research Programme by the Government of Ireland.

Published in Marine Science

The annual Irish Groundfish Survey (IGFS) for 2022 will be carried out by the Marine Institute off the North West, West and South Coasts of Ireland from next Monday 31 October to Friday 16 December.

The IGFS is a demersal trawl survey consisting of approximately 170 fishing hauls of 30-minute duration each in ICES areas VIa, VIIb, VIIg and VIIj.

Fishing will take place within a two-nautical-mile radius of the positions indicated in the appendices to Marine Notice No 73 of 2022, which can be downloaded below.

The survey will be conducted by the RV Celtic Explorer (callsign EIGB) which will display appropriate lights and signals. The vessel will be towing a high headline GOV 36/47 demersal trawl during fishing operations.

The Marine Institute requests that commercial fishing and other marine operators keep a two-nautical-mile area around the tow mid-points clear of any gear or apparatus during the survey period outlined above.

Further details can be found in the Marine Notice attached below.

Published in Fishing

Scoil Cholmchille primary school pupils in Malin, Co Donegal have been presented with the inaugural national prize for the Marine Institute’s Explorers Ocean Champions Award by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue TD, today, 24th October 2022.

Congratulating the pupils, Minister McConalogue said “the Explorers Ocean Champion awards recognises the effort, commitment and collaboration of the children, their teachers and the wider community, working together to learn about the importance of the ocean, as well as our unique maritime culture and heritage. I warmly congratulate all of the children of Scoil Cholmchille on winning this award for creating what is a unique and inspirational project and wish to thank their teachers and members of the local community in Malin who assisted them”.

As part of the Explorers Ocean Champion Project and Awards initiative, the Programme Manager, Camden Education Trust, and the Explorers Programme outreach teams have worked with 28 primary schools, reaching up to 3,500 children and 124 teachers across 13 coastal counties, creating ‘healthy ocean’ projects covering themes from STEM, outdoor education, through to the arts and ocean literacy.

Charlie McConalogue TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine joins the Explorers team Dr Noirín Burke and William McElhinney to see the Explorers CSI Learning about Squid marine lessons in class at Scoil Cholmcille, Glengad in Donegal, during his visit while presenting the Marine Institute’s Explorers Ocean Champion Awards to the school. Left to right Dr Noirin Burke, Keelan McDaid, Tiernan McColgan, Gavin McColgan, William McElhinney, Patricia Orme (Marine Institute Corporate Services Director) Mary Harkin (School Principal), John McGuinness (Councillor) Lucy Kelly and Aela Doherty. Photo Brendan DiverCharlie McConalogue TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine joins the Explorers team Dr Noirín Burke and William McElhinney to see the Explorers CSI Learning about Squid marine lessons in class at Scoil Cholmcille, Glengad in Donegal, during his visit while presenting the Marine Institute’s Explorers Ocean Champion Awards to the school. Left to right Dr Noirin Burke, Keelan McDaid, Tiernan McColgan, Gavin McColgan, William McElhinney, Patricia Orme (Marine Institute Corporate Services Director) Mary Harkin (School Principal), John McGuinness (Councillor) Lucy Kelly and Aela Doherty. Photo Brendan Diver

Minister McConalogue added, “I am delighted to see so many schools from across Ireland participating in the programme and I want to congratulate all the children who completed Ocean Champion projects around the country. Projects such as this enable a shared understanding of the impact the ocean has on our lives, as well as the impact we have on the ocean and helps to ensure that we are better informed to protect and manage this valuable resource.”

School principal Mary Harkin welcoming the award said; “We are absolutely delighted to have won the national prize for the Explorer's Ocean Champion Award. Our pupils are innately interested in the maritime heritage of their local coastal area and are keenly aware of the importance of the sea, as a life- giving source, as well as being very conscious of the dangers inherent in making a living from the sea. We view this award as testament to the close working, supportive relationship between the school and the local community and we would like to dedicate this award to all those from the area who have lost their lives to the sea.

For their project ‘Save our Seas’, the children learned about the links between the local community and the marine environment. They also engaged in real marine science activities taking and examining plankton samples from the ocean, learning the lifecycle of salmon, and also studying local seaweeds. The children created songs, ‘Save our Seas’ posters and engaged with local traditional boat builders led by John Bonner and their community, to learn about boats and local fishing practices”.

 Charlie McConalogue TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine joins from left, Christopher Johnson (Boat Builder) Williema McElhinney (Explorers Education Programme Outreach officer in Donegal, Leave no trace Ireland) Pupils Noah McDaid and Lily Doherty, Annemarie Monagle (boat builder) John Bonner, (traditional boat builder in Glengad) and Peter Doherty (Boat builder),  to learn more about local marine heritage and traditional boat building, at Scoil Cholmcille, Glengad in Donegal, during his visit while presenting the Marine Institute’s Explorers Ocean Champion Awards to the school. Photo Brendan Diver. Charlie McConalogue TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine joins from left, Christopher Johnson (Boat Builder) Williema McElhinney (Explorers Education Programme Outreach officer in Donegal, Leave no trace Ireland) Pupils Noah McDaid and Lily Doherty, Annemarie Monagle (boat builder) John Bonner, (traditional boat builder in Glengad) and Peter Doherty (Boat builder), to learn more about local marine heritage and traditional boat building, at Scoil Cholmcille, Glengad in Donegal, during his visit while presenting the Marine Institute’s Explorers Ocean Champion Awards to the school. Photo Brendan Diver.

The Marine Institute Funded Explorers Education Programme has been delivering marine-themed modules to classes for nearly 15 years. The Explorers outreach team brings together scientists, teachers, outreach teams and communities together, inspiring the education network to create marine leaders and ocean champions.

Patricia Orme, Corporate Services Director, Marine Institute said: “Collaborative school projects that involve the community and which have cross generational engagement such as this one, build understanding of the ocean and our unique maritime heritage. I want to congratulate the children and teachers from Scoil Cholmchille and also thank the local Community for their enthusiasm and generosity in sharing their knowledge and experience. We also want to congratulate the other teachers and children who took part in the school projects around Ireland. From beach cleans, working with musicians to create impactful songs, to creating public notice boards at beaches, all of the projects highlighted the importance of our marine resource and enabled communities working together to come up with inspiring solutions."

Awards by Category:

Overall winner of the Marine Institute’s Explorers Ocean Champion School 2021-2022: ‘Award of Excellence for the Best Healthy Ocean’ school project in Ireland: Scoil Cholmchille, Malin, Co. Donegal.

Award of Excellence – Outdoor Education: S.N. Réalt na Mara, Rosses Point, Co Sligo - ‘The H.O.M.E Project’

Award of Excellence – Ocean Literacy Creative Project: Scoil Réalt na Mara, Cill Orglan, Co Kerry - ‘We are Ocean Champions’

Award of Excellence – Cross Curricular & STEAM: Scoil Iósaif Naofa Oranmore Boys NS, Oranmore, Co Galway - ‘Ocean Award Because We Care’

Award of Excellence – Cross Curricular & STEM: Rathmichael Parish NS, Rathmichael, Co Dublin - ‘The Marine Team’

Judges Award: Claddagh National School, Galway City, Co Galway - ‘Our Oceans, Alive and Healthy: Song and Podcast’

Published in Marine Science
Tagged under

A research award targeted at early-career researchers has been granted to Dr Joshka Kaufmann of the Marine Institute to investigate and predict how quickly natural Atlantic salmon evolve to human-driven environmental change. The SFI-IRC Pathway programme, a new collaborative initiative between Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the Irish Research Council (IRC), has been awarded to Dr Kaufmann to conduct state-of-the-art research at the Marine Institute on the evolutionary potential of natural populations of Atlantic salmon in Ireland and develop an independent track record in this important climate-biodiversity research nexus.

As current rates of planetary stress are leading to unprecedented declines in natural populations, understanding the potential of iconic species such as the Atlantic salmon to adapt to human impacts has become crucial for their preservation and management.

Dr Ciaran Kelly, Director of Fisheries Ecosystems Advisory Services of the Marine Institute said, “In line with national, European and global priorities on climate and biodiversity, this research will identify vulnerabilities and ultimately offer strategies for optimal conservation; helping to balance sustainable aquaculture with the interactions between natural and aquaculture environments. In addition to strengthening Irish research capabilities, the project will contribute towards evidence-based policy-making at national and international level, providing advice through ICES (International Council for Exploration of the Seas) to NASCO (North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation) and stakeholder groups such as the Atlantic Salmon Trust.”

The Marine Institute Newport research station in the Burrishoole catchment is a proven long-term natural observatory and an index Irish Atlantic salmon population. The systematic monitoring and sampling of salmon in the Burrishoole system (Co. Mayo) since 1958 provides a unique opportunity to link temporal changes in size, demography and genetic makeup of salmon with climate change, overfishing and mixing with cultured fish.

Prof. Philip McGinnity (UCC), Marine Institute Principal Investigator in Fish Population Genetics and lead on the SFI Investigators Award said,“Long-term ecological (and evolutionary) research is crucial to understanding how the world is changing and for informing conservation and protection programmes. Long-term studies with consistent data collection is rare, particularly in Ireland. As anadromous fish bridge freshwater and marine environments, they also provide an invaluable resource to understand the dynamic interconnections between land and sea and the role human actions such as climate change and overfishing.”

Dr Kaufmann of the Marine Institute said, “Building upon recent research successes constructing whole wild population pedigrees in SFI and Beaufort programmes, my plan is, with the support of a PhD student, to use next-generation high-throughput sequencing technologies and climate attribution to evaluate the evolutionary potential of natural populations of Atlantic salmon. Utilising these unique and irreplaceable multi-decadal pedigrees, I will identify how selection on traits changed with time and how this can impact the characteristics of salmon in the next decades.”

This knowledge will help provide advice for conservation and management of this iconic species under future climate scenarios and help reconcile the competing goals of aquaculture, fisheries and conservation. Dr Kaufmann will be hosted by the Marine Institute, Ireland's national agency for marine research and development, and work closely with other national and international research funders to promote the value of Ireland's unique marine resource.

This project is one of 53 research projects funded by the SFI-IRC Pathway programme to support early career research across all disciplines and to encourage interdisciplinary approaches.

Published in Marine Science
Tagged under

A five-day continuing professional development (CPD) course has been successfully delivered in person to over 70 primary school teachers in Waterford, Kerry, Galway and for the first time in Cork.

Plus, a further 40 teachers are completed the Explorers Education Programme course online.

The programme, approved by the Department of Education and Skills, provides primary school teachers with the ocean knowledge and skills to introduce marine themes through cross-curricular teaching such as science, maths, geography, English and arts in classroom, as well as conducting field trips to the seashore.

Exploring sand dunes and rock pools, creating art pieces from flotsam and jetsam, conducting beach-clean games on the shore as well as learning about the seashore animals and the different types of seaweeds are all ways to teach children how to interact with the natural world.

Congratulating the Explorers team involved in the delivery of the programme nationwide, Patricia Orme, corporate services director with the Marine Institute said: “These courses are key to introducing teachers to ocean concepts, environmental awareness and climate change.

“We are delighted to see in-person CPD courses back in full swing and the Explorers first online course is also doing extremely well. The expansion of the CPD summer teachers training courses reaching over 100 teachers this year is testament to the hard work of the Explorers team and the ongoing support also provided by the education centres in Galway, Waterford, Tralee–Kerry, West Cork and Mayo.”

Cushla Dromgool-Regan, Explorers strategic education and communications manager with the Camden Education Trust thanked the teachers for their enthusiasm in teaching marine subjects in their classrooms.

Rory McAvinney from Galway Atlantaquaria delivers the Exploring Ireland’s Seashore course tho primary school teachers in Galway | Credit: Maria Vittoria MarraRory McAvinney from Galway Atlantaquaria delivers the Exploring Ireland’s Seashore course tho primary school teachers in Galway | Credit: Maria Vittoria Marra

“We were delighted with the positive feedback and especially where a number of teachers said that the skills learned during the training have also provided them with far reaching skills beyond the classroom and within their communities,” she said.

“One teacher explained that she had recently seen a mother finding it difficult to answer her child’s questions about what they were seeing on the shore in the rock pools, and unfortunately quickly pulled the child along.

“The teacher said at the time she felt disappointed she couldn’t help, but now after completing the Explorers course, she feels confident to help potential seashore explorers in this situation. She is now looking forward to paying it forward and encouraging children and parents to keep exploring over the summer, as well as when she gets back to school.

“The teacher's positive feedback and enthusiasm is very encouraging and highlights the importance of sharing our knowledge about the ocean. The idea of ‘paying it forward’ to inspire a new generation of ocean advocates is key to helping children develop a greater appreciation of the importance of the ocean and an understanding of the significant impact it has on our daily lives.”

The CPD course, Exploring Ireland’s Seashore through Science, Maths, Geography, English and Art, is still open for teachers to complete online. Registration closes on Wednesday 17 August. For further information see elearning.mayoeducationcentre.ie.

The Explorers Education Programme is managed by the Camden Education Trust and support services are provided by Galway Atlantaquaria. Explorers teams involved in the CPD training include Leave no Trace - Ireland (Waterford), Lifetime Lab (Cork), Sea Synergy (Kerry) and Galway Atlantaquaria (Galway).

The Explorers Education Programme is funded by the Marine Institute, Ireland’s State agency for marine research, technology development and innovation. For further information about the Explorer Education Programme see www.explorers.ie.

Published in Marine Science

The Marine Institute has shared a video documenting the key milestones in the build of Ireland’s new marine research vessel, the RV Tom Crean.

Delivered on time and on budget, the €25 million vessel was officially handed over to the Marine Institute on Friday 8 July and set off from its builders in Vigo, Spain for Galway Bay a week later.

The state-of-the-art ship is due in its new home port in the City of the Tribes early this week, and in the meantime you can watch the video below that charts the timeline of its build since the contract for its design was signed in January 2019.

Published in RV Tom Crean
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Ireland's Offshore Renewable Energy

Because of Ireland's location at the Atlantic edge of the EU, it has more offshore energy potential than most other countries in Europe. The conditions are suitable for the development of the full range of current offshore renewable energy technologies.

Offshore Renewable Energy FAQs

Offshore renewable energy draws on the natural energy provided by wind, wave and tide to convert it into electricity for industry and domestic consumption.

Offshore wind is the most advanced technology, using fixed wind turbines in coastal areas, while floating wind is a developing technology more suited to deeper water. In 2018, offshore wind provided a tiny fraction of global electricity supply, but it is set to expand strongly in the coming decades into a USD 1 trillion business, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). It says that turbines are growing in size and in power capacity, which in turn is "delivering major performance and cost improvements for offshore wind farms".

The global offshore wind market grew nearly 30% per year between 2010 and 2018, according to the IEA, due to rapid technology improvements, It calculated that about 150 new offshore wind projects are in active development around the world. Europe in particular has fostered the technology's development, led by Britain, Germany and Denmark, but China added more capacity than any other country in 2018.

A report for the Irish Wind Energy Assocation (IWEA) by the Carbon Trust – a British government-backed limited company established to accelerate Britain's move to a low carbon economy - says there are currently 14 fixed-bottom wind energy projects, four floating wind projects and one project that has yet to choose a technology at some stage of development in Irish waters. Some of these projects are aiming to build before 2030 to contribute to the 5GW target set by the Irish government, and others are expected to build after 2030. These projects have to secure planning permission, obtain a grid connection and also be successful in a competitive auction in the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS).

The electricity generated by each turbine is collected by an offshore electricity substation located within the wind farm. Seabed cables connect the offshore substation to an onshore substation on the coast. These cables transport the electricity to land from where it will be used to power homes, farms and businesses around Ireland. The offshore developer works with EirGrid, which operates the national grid, to identify how best to do this and where exactly on the grid the project should connect.

The new Marine Planning and Development Management Bill will create a new streamlined system for planning permission for activity or infrastructure in Irish waters or on the seabed, including offshore wind farms. It is due to be published before the end of 2020 and enacted in 2021.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE. Is there scope for community involvement in offshore wind? The IWEA says that from the early stages of a project, the wind farm developer "should be engaging with the local community to inform them about the project, answer their questions and listen to their concerns". It says this provides the community with "the opportunity to work with the developer to help shape the final layout and design of the project". Listening to fishing industry concerns, and how fishermen may be affected by survey works, construction and eventual operation of a project is "of particular concern to developers", the IWEA says. It says there will also be a community benefit fund put in place for each project. It says the final details of this will be addressed in the design of the RESS (see below) for offshore wind but it has the potential to be "tens of millions of euro over the 15 years of the RESS contract". The Government is also considering the possibility that communities will be enabled to invest in offshore wind farms though there is "no clarity yet on how this would work", the IWEA says.

Based on current plans, it would amount to around 12 GW of offshore wind energy. However, the IWEA points out that is unlikely that all of the projects planned will be completed. The industry says there is even more significant potential for floating offshore wind off Ireland's west coast and the Programme for Government contains a commitment to develop a long-term plan for at least 30 GW of floating offshore wind in our deeper waters.

There are many different models of turbines. The larger a turbine, the more efficient it is in producing electricity at a good price. In choosing a turbine model the developer will be conscious of this ,but also has to be aware the impact of the turbine on the environment, marine life, biodiversity and visual impact. As a broad rule an offshore wind turbine will have a tip-height of between 165m and 215m tall. However, turbine technology is evolving at a rapid rate with larger more efficient turbines anticipated on the market in the coming years.

 

The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme is designed to support the development of renewable energy projects in Ireland. Under the scheme wind farms and solar farms compete against each other in an auction with the projects which offer power at the lowest price awarded contracts. These contracts provide them with a guaranteed price for their power for 15 years. If they obtain a better price for their electricity on the wholesale market they must return the difference to the consumer.

Yes. The first auction for offshore renewable energy projects is expected to take place in late 2021.

Cost is one difference, and technology is another. Floating wind farm technology is relatively new, but allows use of deeper water. Ireland's 50-metre contour line is the limit for traditional bottom-fixed wind farms, and it is also very close to population centres, which makes visibility of large turbines an issue - hence the attraction of floating structures Do offshore wind farms pose a navigational hazard to shipping? Inshore fishermen do have valid concerns. One of the first steps in identifying a site as a potential location for an offshore wind farm is to identify and assess the level of existing marine activity in the area and this particularly includes shipping. The National Marine Planning Framework aims to create, for the first time, a plan to balance the various kinds of offshore activity with the protection of the Irish marine environment. This is expected to be published before the end of 2020, and will set out clearly where is suitable for offshore renewable energy development and where it is not - due, for example, to shipping movements and safe navigation.

YEnvironmental organisations are concerned about the impact of turbines on bird populations, particularly migrating birds. A Danish scientific study published in 2019 found evidence that larger birds were tending to avoid turbine blades, but said it didn't have sufficient evidence for smaller birds – and cautioned that the cumulative effect of farms could still have an impact on bird movements. A full environmental impact assessment has to be carried out before a developer can apply for planning permission to develop an offshore wind farm. This would include desk-based studies as well as extensive surveys of the population and movements of birds and marine mammals, as well as fish and seabed habitats. If a potential environmental impact is identified the developer must, as part of the planning application, show how the project will be designed in such a way as to avoid the impact or to mitigate against it.

A typical 500 MW offshore wind farm would require an operations and maintenance base which would be on the nearby coast. Such a project would generally create between 80-100 fulltime jobs, according to the IWEA. There would also be a substantial increase to in-direct employment and associated socio-economic benefit to the surrounding area where the operation and maintenance hub is located.

The recent Carbon Trust report for the IWEA, entitled Harnessing our potential, identified significant skills shortages for offshore wind in Ireland across the areas of engineering financial services and logistics. The IWEA says that as Ireland is a relatively new entrant to the offshore wind market, there are "opportunities to develop and implement strategies to address the skills shortages for delivering offshore wind and for Ireland to be a net exporter of human capital and skills to the highly competitive global offshore wind supply chain". Offshore wind requires a diverse workforce with jobs in both transferable (for example from the oil and gas sector) and specialist disciplines across apprenticeships and higher education. IWEA have a training network called the Green Tech Skillnet that facilitates training and networking opportunities in the renewable energy sector.

It is expected that developing the 3.5 GW of offshore wind energy identified in the Government's Climate Action Plan would create around 2,500 jobs in construction and development and around 700 permanent operations and maintenance jobs. The Programme for Government published in 2020 has an enhanced target of 5 GW of offshore wind which would create even more employment. The industry says that in the initial stages, the development of offshore wind energy would create employment in conducting environmental surveys, community engagement and development applications for planning. As a site moves to construction, people with backgrounds in various types of engineering, marine construction and marine transport would be recruited. Once the site is up and running , a project requires a team of turbine technicians, engineers and administrators to ensure the wind farm is fully and properly maintained, as well as crew for the crew transfer vessels transporting workers from shore to the turbines.

The IEA says that today's offshore wind market "doesn't even come close to tapping the full potential – with high-quality resources available in most major markets". It estimates that offshore wind has the potential to generate more than 420 000 Terawatt hours per year (TWh/yr) worldwide – as in more than 18 times the current global electricity demand. One Terawatt is 114 megawatts, and to put it in context, Scotland it has a population a little over 5 million and requires 25 TWh/yr of electrical energy.

Not as advanced as wind, with anchoring a big challenge – given that the most effective wave energy has to be in the most energetic locations, such as the Irish west coast. Britain, Ireland and Portugal are regarded as most advanced in developing wave energy technology. The prize is significant, the industry says, as there are forecasts that varying between 4000TWh/yr to 29500TWh/yr. Europe consumes around 3000TWh/year.

The industry has two main umbrella organisations – the Irish Wind Energy Association, which represents both onshore and offshore wind, and the Marine Renewables Industry Association, which focuses on all types of renewable in the marine environment.

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