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#BoatyMcBoatface - The votes are in and 'Boaty McBoatface' is the clear choice in a public poll to name a new British polar research vessel, according to the Guardian.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, bosses at the National Environment Research Council (NERC) were left red-faced by the popularity of the tongue-in-cheek name, one of a number of witticisms nominated by the public in an online pills to name its latest £200 million (€253 million) research ship.

Now NERC chief executive Duncan Wingham, who holds final say on the naming rights, is left with the difficult decision of whether to go with the popular choice, or preserve the credibility of the advanced polar research fleet among the marine science community.

As it turns out, it's not the first time that marine science has had an awkward brush with the public online – as an effort by Greenpeace to draw attention to whaling in the South Pacific led to a humpback whale being lumbered with the dubious monicker Mister Splashy Pants.

However, as the AV Club reports, that name ended up being to the benefit of Greenpeace's campaign against Japanese whaling – a subject back in the news after confirmation of hundreds of whale kills on a recent Antarctic expedition.

Published in News Update

#Angling - The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) is undertaking research on the socio-economics of inland fisheries within Ireland, with the objective of providing evidence that will support policy decisions regarding the management of fisheries resources and angling within Ireland.

As part of that work they are currently establishing an angler survey panel. Members of the angler panel will be invited to participate in occasional short surveys to elicit their views on various topics.

The ESRI's research programme on the socio-economics of inland fisheries is financially supported by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI). The data and information collected will only be used for research purposes by the ESRI, will not be shared with IFI or other organisations and will only be accessible to the researchers undertaking the analysis strictly in accordance with the Data Protection Acts, 1988 & 2003.

Only research reports and papers, which contain aggregated summary analysis, will be provided to policy decision makers, including IFI. The ESRI will make its research papers publicly available for free from its website.

To become a member of the panel, sign up via the ESRI website HERE – it should take less than a minute.

For further information about the angler panel or the research programme, contact programme lead John Curtis at [email protected]

Published in Angling

#BoatyMcBoatface - The operators of a new British marine research vessel may be left red-faced as an online poll to name the ship has a clear favourite: Boaty McBoatface.

The tongue-in-cheek submission is far ahead of rival choices such as David Attenborough in the public vote to name the Natural Environment Research Council's (NERC) new polar research ship, as The Independent reports. SEE VIDEO BELOW.

And it's not the only witticism in the running, with Usain Boat, Ice Ice Baby and Notthetitanic also proving popular on social media ahead of the voting deadline on 16 April.

Whatever name it eventually gets, the £200 million (€253 million) vessel will carry up to 90 scientists and support staff on lengthy research voyages to the Arctic and Antartica, forming part of what NERC describes as "the most advanced floating research fleet in the world".

The Independent has more on the story HERE.

Published in News Update

#MarineScience - The research vessel operations team at the Marine Institute are hosting a workshop for research vessel users at the institute's Oranmore headquarters on Thursday 28 April.

The aim of the workshop is to give marine scientists across a range of disciplines the opportunity to discuss their research, and their experience on both the RV Celtic Explorer and RV Celtic Voyager, as well as using the ROV Holland 1.

It will also allow the research vessel operations team to highlight the capabilities of both research vessels post 2015 refits, and to gather feedback about how the service could be improved.

The meeting will commence at 9am and it is planned to finish at 6pm. There will be an opportunity to have a Q&A session around the talks and gather feedback from both the user and the service provider. Contact [email protected] with any queries.

The research vessel users workshop will be followed by a SMARTSkills day workshop also in Oranmore on Friday 29 April with training sessions on the following:

  • MaxSea plotting software.
  • Shipboard Computer System (SCS) training.
  • IxBlue Echoes Sub Bottom Profiler training: practice and processing.
  • CTD training.
  • ADCP training.
  • Kongsberg Multibeam operating system (SIS).

All of the above equipment will be available for hands-on training and there will also be a wide selection of other scientific equipment on display on the day. See the SMARTSkills website for further information. A draft agenda for the SMARTSkills training can be found HERE.

Published in Marine Science

#Jobs - The Research and Development Division of Inland Fisheries Ireland has secured external funding to undertake a series of research projects.

Inland Fisheries Ireland is currently seeking to recruit a number of staff as Research Technician(s) and Fisheries Assistant(s) for periods of up to a maximum of 10 months duration during 2016 and will shortly commence a process to fill these positions.

Interviews will take place in late February/early March to fill a number of positions and a panel(s) for subsequent positions will be compiled following interview.

All positions will be based at the current IFI Head Office, 3044 lake Drive, Citywest Business Campus, Dublin 24.

Research Technicians will provide technical support to the Senior Research Officer (SRO) and project team in the compilation and analysis of data of relevant biotic and abiotic information for fish species in Irish lakes, rivers or estuaries, using standard fish sampling methodologies. Principal duties and responsibilities include:

  • Data collection: Carry out and lead field surveys when necessary; collect data on the abundance, composition and age structure of fish populations from designated waterbodies; collect data on the distribution, biology and ecology of fish species in designated waterbodies.
  • Data analysis: Collate and input data into project databases and present data in report format as required; data mining; conduct statistical analyses (descriptive and analytical) of data sets including using relevant statistical software; manage fisheries datasets for the project; assure quality of data including editing and verification of consistency; create tables, charts and graphics with narrative text; interpret data; analyse and prepare reports.
  • Reporting: Maintain raw data and all other records in a clear concise format and compile and maintain all records in a manner compatible with GIS.
  • Other duties: liaise with the project team and stakeholders and attend/contribute to information meetings as required; liaise with other IFI staff working on related projects as required.

The successful applicant(s) will have a relevant diploma or degree or equivalent. A full driving licence valid in the State is also required. Salary scale is at first point of technician scale (as of 1 January 2016), €32,231 - €51,717 (including 1 LSI).

Fisheries Assistant(s) will assist the Senior Research officer and team in the compilation and analysis of relevant biotic and abiotic information for fish species in Irish lakes, rivers or estuaries, using standard fish sampling methodologies.

Among the principal duties and responsibilities, successful applicants will be expected to assist on field surveys (if necessary); undertake processing of sample material and provide assistance to the SRO with sample analysis; assist in the processing of fish samples and collate scale, otolith and opercular bone samples to provide information on age profile and growth rates of fish species; collate and input data into IFI databases; maintain raw data and all other records in a clear concise format; compile and maintain all records in a manner compatible with GIS; liaise with other IFI staff working on related projects as required.

The successful applicant(s) will have a Leaving Certificate or equivalent with minimum Grade C on at least two Higher Level papers, to include one of Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geography or Maths. A full driving licence valid in the State is also required. Salary scale is at first point of fisheries officer/fisheries assistant scale (as of 1 January 2015), €22,907 - €36,235 (including 2 LSIs).

Applications for both positions – to consist of a cover letter and up-to-date Curriculum Vitae – should be sent to
[email protected] by 5pm on Wednesday 24 February 2016. Please quote either ‘Fish’ for Fisheries Assistant roles or ‘Tech’ for the Technician roles depending on which you wish to apply for.

Short listing will be based on information provided in the cover letter and CV. Late applications will not be processed. Canvassing will disqualify. Inland Fisheries Ireland is an equal opportunities employer.

Published in Jobs

#MarineScience - More than 60 marine researchers from third level institutes, Government agencies and SMEs braved the elements to get to the Marine Institute in Oranmore on Thursday 7 January for information and advice on the many EU funding opportunities for marine research.

The workshop – titled Cross Cutting Marine Opportunities in EU Funding, as previously reported on Afloat.ie – was organised by the Marine Institute’s Research Office.

Welcoming participants, John Evans, director of policy, innovation and research at the Marine Institute, highlighted the success of Ireland’s marine researchers to date in winning competitive EU funding.

“Irish researchers have won 3.6% of the available funding for Blue Growth topics under the most recent round of results announced by the European Commission for Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge 2, and this rises to 4.6% when marine related topics relating to sustainable food security are considered," he said.

"This is becoming a consistent pattern, with Irish marine researchers winning more European competitive funding than would be expected from a country our size.”

Evans also spoke of the need for a focus on national research collaboration to maintain and improve this competitive position, and the importance of relevant national strategies as tools for researchers preparing funding proposals, specifically Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth – An Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland, and the National Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation 2015-2020.

The Marine Institute's Dr Fiona Grant, national contact point for marine aspects of Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge 2, gave an overview of the priority topics for Blue Growth with a total of €148.5m available funding with contributions from the Climate, Energy and Transport parts of the Horizon 2020 programme.

'Linking healthy oceans and seas with healthy people’ was one of the key topics covered. Dr Grant mentioned the concept of the ocean as a "blue gym", citing a recent European Marine Board position paper that shows the significant impact of the oceans on human health and wellbeing.

Dr Sean McCarthy of Hyperion Ltd gave very practical advice on how to write a competitive Horizon 2020 proposal, with lots of insights for both new and experienced funding applicants. He told scientists to focus on the potential impact of the research proposal.

“Begin your proposal with impact – the impact is the big issue. Then write the science around the impact,” he said.

Other advice from Dr McCarthy included contacting the national contact point to ensure a better success rate.

“When writing your proposal it’s important to understand how the research priorities have been selected and the national contact point can give you insight into this,” he added.

Gerry Finn, director of the Northern and Western Regional Assembly and national contact point for the INTERREG Atlantic Area, gave an overview of the INTERREG Atlantic Area Programme 2014-2020 and success stories from the 2007-2013 ERDF programmes., under which €12.9m in ERDF funding was approved to 56 Irish projects.

Also speaking on the day was Michael O’Brien, EU Programme liaison officer, who gave an overview of eligibility criteria and guidelines on what makes a successful proposal under this financing mechanism. Four priority areas have been identified which include:

  • Stimulating innovation and competitiveness.
  • Fostering resource efficiency.
  • Strengthening the territory’s resilience to risks of natural, climate and human origin.
  • Enhancing biodiversity and the natural and cultural assets.

Over €140m will be available under the call from 2014-2020 which is expected to be launched in the middle of 2016.

O’Brien advised that the technical parameters "are not formally agreed yet by the member states and there may be further changes over the coming weeks. The working group for the programme meets again shortly to advance the progress on the programme manual and application process.”

Published in Marine Science

#OceanEnergy - Not only the subject of a new Irish-authored research paper, Ireland's ocean energy potential is the focus of an in-depth feature this week on Silicon Republic that highlights five research labs in Ireland's renewables sector.

Among them are the Lir National Ocean Test Facility at UCC's Beaufort Centre, with its state-of-the-art wave simulators, and the Centre for Ocean Energy Research based at Maynooth University, which has an on-campus wave tank for testing its mathematical simulations of ocean energy devices.

And there's also the Litmus Technology Trialling Centre, part of the Nimbus Centre at the Cork Institute of Technology devoted to connected technologies, which has developed a 'smart kite' now being used by the Naval Service to boost ships' speed and generate power while at sea.

Silicon Republic has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Power From the Sea
Tagged under

#MarineScience - A unique opportunity to participate in the North South Atlantic Training Transect (NoSoAT) summer school and carry out ocean research in the North and South Atlantic Ocean is being offered to graduates of marine-related sciences from across the island of Ireland.

Applications are invited for up to 10 fully funded scholarships on-board the German research vessel RV Polarstern, which will leave Germany for this summer school in November and transit 14,000km to Cape Town, South Africa.

Along the transect, students will collect samples and data to help to increase our understanding of ocean processes and which will feed into a range of exciting research projects.

The joint mission between the Strategic Marine Alliance for Research & Training (SMART), the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) and the Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO) will focus on training talented early-stage scientists in oceanographic research techniques and provide the skills and practical experience needed for a career in marine sciences.

Participants will get hands-on training in deployment and operation of scientific gear, acquisition and processing of the sample material and interpretation of the respective data. Work on board will also include lectures, data workshops, practical exercises and student presentations.

"Although over 70% of our planet is ocean there are lots of areas that are poorly observed and about which we have little knowledge," said Dr Pauhla McGrane, national coordinator of SMART Ireland.

"This collaborative effort with AWI and POGO will increase our understanding of the Atlantic Ocean as well as inspiring the marine scientists of tomorrow to sustainably mange our seas and oceans for future generations."

Prof Karen Wiltshire, vice-president of AWI and chair of POGO, added that "improving our knowledge of the ocean requires a new generation of well-trained researchers that are able to combine practical field work with modern methods like remote sensing or RNA sequencing.

"This pooled infrastructure and expertise provides an incredible chance for postgraduates to get the necessary practical experience and develop networking opportunities they need early in their careers.

"We are all delighted to be leading this strategic collaboration, which will promote mobility for a total number of 34 students from across Europe and Africa and increase multidisciplinary research capacity in Atlantic nations."

Graduates, postgraduates and post-doctoral students of marine-related sciences from across the island of Ireland are eligible to apply via SMART.

The closing date for applications is 7 June 2015. Applicants should make sure that they are available between 29 October and 2 December 2015 to account for pre- and post-cruise events and travel times. For further information on how to apply, visit the SMART website or contact [email protected]

Published in Marine Science

#MarineWildlife - A research paper produced in a joint project by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) and the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) was cited by an expert panel that has struck down Japan's plans to resume whaling in the Southern Ocean.

As the Guardian reports, the International Whaling Committee (IWC) panel said Japan's revised programme did to have enough detail to determine whether it needed to hunt whales in order to, as per its reasons, measure population sizes ahead of any return to commercial whaling, or gain "a better understanding of the Antarctic marine ecosystem".

"The current proposal does not demonstrate the need for lethal sampling to achieve those objectives," said the IWC experts' report.

The IWDG-GMIT paper lead authored by Dr Conor Ryan and published in Marine Ecology Progress Series in 2013, which details the collection of relevant data from live biopsy tissue samples, was cited by the experts as evidence contrary to Japan's assertions.

Japan was forced to revise its whaling programme in the face of controversy last year after the International Court of Justice ruled it was not whaling for scientific research purposes.

The IWDG says that the IWC's report "endorses the internationally significant work being carried out in Ireland and shows how this information can be used to inform important management decisions such as that offered by the IWC Expert Panel."

Other recent research work conducted by the IWDG includes a visual and acoustic survey of cetaceans during the annual Marine Institute bus whiting survey, and a review of the National Parks and Wildlife Service's National Cetacean Protection Strategy.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineScience - The Marine Institute has secured €800,000 research funding from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to carry out three significant research projects that address the needs of the aquaculture and seafood industry in the areas of shellfish health and seafood safety.

The funding was announced yesterday (Thursday 1 December) by Marine Minister Simon Coveney as part of the FIRM (Food Institutional Research Measure) competitive research funding programme, and follows the news earlier this month that Ireland's marine researchers won €5.5 million in the latest EU Horizon 2020 funding round in the areas of 'blue growth' and sustainability.

The collaborative projects, which have a total value of €1.2 million, include research partners at NUI Galway, University College Cork and University College Dublin.

The projects will address current challenges in aquaculture and aim to further enhance the health status and food safety standards of farmed Irish shellfish; and ensure compliance with food/feedstuff standards for seaweed.

Dr Peter Heffernan, chief executive of the Marine Institute, welcomed the announcement, saying these projects "will build on the work we are doing in the areas of fish health and seafood safety, together with our research partners.

"We have a strong seafood safety regime in Ireland and these research awards will help to increase our knowledge and further enhance the quality and safety of Irish seafood products."

Dr Heffernan also acknowledged two further research award recipients in NUI Galway and Dublin City University who will focus their research on sustainable aquaculture production systems and mining marine material for novel functional ingredients.

Early in the new year the Marine Institute will seek to fill the three research posts arising from these projects.

Published in Marine Science
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