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As part of this year’s events for European Maritime Day, the Marine Institute and BlueWise Marine will host a special SmartBay Observatory ‘family fun day’ this weekend.

Ahead of its redeployment in Galway Bay off the coast of An Spidéal/Spiddal, the ocean observatory will be on display at Stiúideo Cuan in the Co Galway town this Saturday 21 May from 10am to 5pm.

The day will also feature fun and educational marine workshops for all ages along with circus workshops and performances, face painting and more.

Once returned to the sea bed, the SmartBay Observatory will remain collecting scientific data 24/7. The observatory also hosts two underwater video cameras which continuously stream live footage to the public via the SmartBay website.

The SmartBay Observatory has been undergoing maintenance and upgrades in recent months and will soon be redeployed to its location 1.5km off the coast of An Spidéal in a depth of 20 meters.

“Having the rare occasion to showcase the SmartBay Observatory on land presents a unique and fascinating opportunity to learn and discover more about how we monitor the ocean,” said Alan Berry, section manager of marine research infrastructures at the Marine Institute. "We are looking forward to welcoming all to a fascinating and fun-filled day.”

To join in the fun this Saturday, be sure to RSVP to [email protected]

Published in Marine Science

Teacher training courses this summer are now available to book as part of the Marine Institute’s Explorers Education Programme.

The five-day continuing professional development (CPD) courses will take place from 4-8 July in Galway, Dublin, Waterford, Kerry and West Cork.

This year’s programme follows on from a successful virtual course held last year, and will provide teachers with an opportunity to connect with their local seashore and learn new ideas for outdoor education, as well as bringing the seashore into the classroom.

“Everyone is eager to meet face-to-face this year with the school teachers,” said Cushla Dromgool-Regan, Explorers strategic education and communications manager with the Camden Education Trust.

“The team are looking forward to providing practical seashore activities, covering the sciences, learning about the marine environment and living things, environmental awareness and care, as well as introducing maths, PE and wellbeing games.

“With a combination of outdoor field trips to the shore and an introduction to marine themes in the classroom, this course is a favourite of teachers and can book up very quickly.”

Teachers are provided with a pack of Explorers teaching resources to take back to their classrooms and will also learn about the work of the Marine Institute ranging from marine research to sustainable fisheries, the environment and climate change.

The Explorers Education Programme is funded by the Marine Institute and managed by the Camden Education Trust with support services provided by Galway Atlantaquaria. The Explorers teams involved in this summer’s CPD training include Marine Dimensions (Dublin), Leave no Trace – Ireland (Waterford), Lifetime Lab (Cork), Sea Synergy (Kerry), and Galway Atlantaquaria (Galway).

Published in Coastal Notes

More than 20 primary schools in 14 coastal counties around Ireland have been selected to complete Healthy Ocean projects to be in with a chance of winning a Marine Institute Explorers Ocean Champion Award.

This award is part of the Explorers Education Programme, which provides teachers and children with the tools necessary to develop a project within their school and community.

Healthy Ocean projects focus on supporting the primary school curriculum and creating positive actions to raise awareness and engagement about the ocean in the schools and their local communities.

“We are delighted with the number of schools that are taking part in the Explorers Healthy Ocean project module that is being delivered by the Explorers teams around Ireland,” said Cushla Dromgool-Regan of the Explorers Education Programme and Camden Education Trust.

“The schools working with the Explorers outreach centres will be learning about the ocean and how to take action to improve ocean health.”

The Explorers teams and schools will be working on the healthy ocean projects over the next term where they will be able to select one of three categories to focus on.

The first category includes incorporating a marine theme into a science, technology, engineering, arts and maths (STEAM) project.

The second category includes developing an ocean literacy Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) creative project which addresses an SDG. This may be based on SDG topics such as climate change, wellness and life underwater.

The final category is providing teachers and students an opportunity to complete a project outdoors, ranging from creating outdoor sculptures to beach cleans.

This is the first year of the Ocean Champions Awards, and submissions will be judged by a team of marine and education experts. The winners will receive a Marine Institute Explorers Ocean Champion Award for their school. Winners will be announced around World Ocean Day on Wednesday 8 June.

There are some places still available for schools to take part in the Ocean Champions Awards. For more information, see Explorers School Projects on the Explorers Education Programme at www.explorers.ie.

Published in Marine Science

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.

Published in Marine Science

This weekend, Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 March, Galway Atlantaquaria and the Marine Institute support STEPS Engineers Week with a weekend of fun, facts and competitions at the national aquarium in Salthill.

The weekend will be dedicated to the Argo float and showcase the importance of marine science and engineering.

Argo floats are robotic instruments that drift with the ocean currents and are engineered to move up and down between the surface and a mid-water level collecting data as it travels the ocean.

Each float is programmed to rise to the surface every 10 days to transmit its data via satellite so scientists can monitor the ocean temperature and circulation. At the surface, the Argo float can also receive new mission instructions when it connects to the satellite.

There are currently close to 4,000 floats in the Argo Programme collecting and transmitting data from areas of the global ocean that would otherwise be impossible to reach.

Galway Atlantaquaria will have an Argo float from the Marine Institute on display over the weekend. Visitors can view this marine robot up close and can take a look inside at the inner workings and electronics that drive it on its mission.

Each day, there will be videos showing how the Argo floats are deployed at sea and how they work. Visitors can view the full global fleet online and see the data they transmit back via satellite.

Argo floats distribute real-time information on temperature and salinity down to a depth of 2,000 metres below the ocean’s surface. Measuring the temperature and salinity of the ocean is crucial in better understanding climate change and the role of our oceans on our climate.

Garry Kendellen of Galway Atlantaquaria said: “I have followed the floats for a long time, and these devices are an amazing example of engineering to help us monitor the ocean. The climate crisis is of great danger to our own health and these devices give us valuable information on changes in ocean circulation.”

All are invited to attend and talk with scientists from Galway Atlantaquaria and the Marine Institute to discover why marine engineering is so important. There will be plenty to see and do with puzzles, fun and competitions to be won.

But be sure to book early to avoid disappointment on the Galway Atlantaquaria website at www.nationalaquarium.ie.

Engineers Week brings the fascinating world of engineering to life in communities nationwide, inspiring children to engineer the Ireland of tomorrow.

Published in Marine Science

The Marine Institute is celebrating International Day of Women and Girls in Science on 11th February 2022, by highlighting the many brilliant women who play transformative and ambitious roles in understanding, exploring, protecting and sustainably managing the wealth of our oceans.

The United Nations Theme for International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2022 is “Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: Water Unites Us”. This recognises the role of women and girls in science, not only as beneficiaries but also as agents of change.

"The Marine Institute recognises our people as a critical enabler of success, and we are committed to supporting a diverse workforce and a culture of high performance driven by our people. Just as the ocean supports a great diversity of life and ecosystems, the Marine Institute values our diverse workforce," said Patricia Orme, Director of Corporate Services at the Marine Institute.

"70% of the women working at the Marine Institute work in roles that deliver key services centred around science"

The Marine Institute has a staff of 238 employees, and supports a strong workforce of female employees at 50%. The organisation continues to recognise that its employees' skills, experience, diversity and passion for the marine are central to the work that is undertaken for the government and other partners.

"70% of the women working at the Marine Institute work in roles that deliver key services centred around science, technical analysis and research including areas of oceanography & ocean climate, fisheries ecosystems and advisory roles, marine environment and food safety and the development of applications. We also have women working in policy, innovation and research, maritime development and corporate roles. We are extremely proud to note that 80% of our female employees hold bachelor, masters or doctorate level qualifications," Patricia Orme added.

To celebrate our diverse culture and the contribution, innovation and impact of the many Marine Institute Women in Science, we will share photos, animations and profiles of our female scientists, sharing their study and career paths, the work they do at the Marine Institute and the important contribution their work delivers. Follow #WomenInScience on the Marine Institute's Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to meet some of our female scientists, learn about their work and their many successes.

The International Day of Women and Girls in Science Forum has been one of the flagship events of the United Nations, since its inception in 2016. It is a key event for women and girls in science, science experts, policy-makers and diplomats to share their vision, expertise and best practices to achieve internationally agreed development goals, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. According to data from the UN Scientific Education and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), 30% of researchers worldwide are women and approximately 35% of all students in STEM-related fields in higher education are women.

Published in Marine Science

Experienced charter skippers can now apply for Ireland’s 2022 bluefin tuna scientific survey programme, as scientists confirm that over 1,100 of the largest tuna in the world have been successfully tagged and released through the programme in the last three years.

Building on the successes of the Tuna CHART (CatcH And Release Tagging) programmes of 2019-2021, this scientific data collection catch and release fishery for Ireland will operate again this year, subject to Covid-19 restrictions.

A maximum of 25 authorisations may be granted to qualifying angling charter vessel skippers around the Irish coast for the fishery, which will open on 1 July and close on 12 November.

The Tuna CHART programme is a collaborative scientific programme between Inland Fisheries Ireland and the Marine Institute in partnership with the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) and Department of Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC).

Between 2019 and 2021, some 1,136 Atlantic bluefin tuna were caught, tagged, measured and released off the Irish coast by authorised charter skippers. The largest tuna tagged to date in the programme was 2.75 metres, weighing an estimated 372kg.

All tuna were carefully managed in the water alongside the charter vessel, subject to strict guidelines set by the Tuna CHART programme, and all were released alive.

Data from the tagging programme have been collated by the partnership for reporting to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT).

The core aspect of the Tuna CHART programme is the welfare and successful release of the bluefin tuna. Authorised skippers will be required to have high specification rods, reels and line in advance of the open season in order to ensure that the fish is brought alongside the vessel to be measured and tagged in the water in a timely manner.

Anglers will have an opportunity to participate in this fishery and contribute to this important scientific study by chartering and fishing from authorised vessels only.

Unauthorised vessels are not permitted to target or catch Bluefin tuna and any unauthorised person found to be targeting Bluefin tuna is liable to prosecution.

Experienced charter skippers are being invited to apply to join the 2022 Tuna CHART programme between Monday 14 and Monday 28 February by filling out an application form online at www.fisheriesireland.ie/bluefin

Published in Angling

The Marine Institute continues to invest in the next generation of ocean professionals, through the 2022 Summer Bursary Scholarship Programme, which provides third level students with work experience across a number of marine areas.

The MI Bursary Scholarship Programme has been running for more than 30 years, providing essential career development and support, and inspiring the next generation of marine scientists and experts. The programme equips students with the skills to become ocean leaders and marine champions of the future.

Mick Gillooly, Interim CEO at the Marine Institute said, “By working with experts on their field, undergraduate students can strengthen their skills and knowledge and form valuable networks in the marine sector. The programme enables students to make informed decisions early in their studies about the marine and maritime careers they would like to pursue."

The Bursary Scholarship Programme is aimed at undergraduates of Universities, Institutes of Technology and National Institutes for Higher Education. To participate in the programme, undergraduate students must have completed two years of study in a relevant discipline by the beginning of June 2022.

The programme will offer 8 to 12-week placements for up to 14 undergraduate students. The programme offers students practical experience in areas such as Freshwater Fisheries, Aquaculture, Marine Infrastructure Asset Management, Oceanographic Analysis, Ocean Economics, Research Office, Human Resources, Library and Molecular Chemistry and Marine Communications. The bursaries are based at MI facilities in Oranmore, Galway and Newport, Mayo.

To apply for the 2022 Bursary Programme:

  • Please view the bursary titles available
  • Select the two bursary positions that interest you the most and in order of preference
  • Complete the online application form and submit as per instructions.  
  • The application deadline is Friday 25th February 2022.

Download the 2022 Bursary list below

Published in Marine Science
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Fisheries research undertaken by Marine Institute scientists features in a new short documentary from Europe's leading international news channel.

Produced by Euronews, ‘Where’s the catch? The fishery surveys keeping our seas sustainable’ follows the RV Celtic Explorer during the annual Irish Groundfish Survey (IGFS), which most recently took place from October to December 2021.

This six-week fisheries survey in Ireland’s Atlantic shelf takes place each year, with the survey passing through 170 points on the nautical chart.

The IGFS assesses commercially exploited fish stocks, such as haddock and whiting. The survey provides an index of the share of young fish in the stock, which in turn gives an indication of its spawning success.

In the video, David Stokes of the Marine Institute, and chief scientist on the IGFS, explains the sampling processes and the survey’s importance, while scientists Jennifer Doyle and Sinead O’Brien discuss what data is collected in the research vessel’s laboratory.

This Irish survey is one of many conducted in a coordinated way along the northern and western coasts of the European continent. The data collected from all surveys is compiled and analysed by the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES).

Dr Ciaran Kelly, director of fisheries, ecosystems and advisory services at the Marine Institute, said: “We are delighted for our work to be featured in this Euronews documentary, as Marine Institute scientists play a key role in carrying out assessments and developing the scientific evidence and advice at ICES.

“The important scientific work undertaken by our scientists is essential for supporting a sustainable ocean economy, as well as protecting and managing our marine ecosystems.”

The video is part of the monthly ‘Ocean’ series produced by Euronews and the European Commission, which is broadcast in nine languages and available in 160 countries.

Published in Marine Science

The Marine Institute has today launched the 2021 Stock Book, the annual publication which provides the latest impartial scientific advice on the status of 74 key fish stocks of interest to Ireland. It is available for download or through an interactive online application (www.marine.ie).

This is the 29th edition of the annual book, which also contains the latest management advice used by decision makers to set sustainable catch levels and fishing quotas for 2022. The publication is an invaluable reference guide to a wide audience, including the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the fishing industry, marine scientists, environmental NGOs, third level institutes and financial institutions.

In 2020, Irish vessels landed approximately 190,000 tonnes of wild caught fish worth more than €250 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 the Common Fisheries Policy and all stakeholders. To that end, every year, the Marine Institute undertakes an extensive data collection programme - multiple scientific surveys cover approximately 327,000 square nautical miles over 263 days, equating to 1,545 scientist days-at-sea. 

Onshore and at sea sampling programmes measure over half a million fish and estimate age for a further 50,000 individuals across all commercial species. Irish data is compiled with that from other countries through the intergovernmental organisation ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Seas). 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.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD said "I am impressed by the quantity and quality of data collected by our marine scientists in the Marine Institute. This work must inform all aspects of fisheries management and support the effective protection of our marine ecosystem in the seas around our coast and for the fisheries on which our fleet are reliant. It is important that the results of all the work is made accessible to industry and other stakeholders and I very much welcome the Stock Book for 2021 which I have now received."

Michael Gillooly, Interim CEO of the Marine Institute, said, "The seas around Ireland are among the most productive and biologically sensitive areas in EU waters. The Marine Institute conducts comprehensive and broad science programmes in order to sustainably monitor and develop this valuable resource.

"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. As part of the services provided, our scientists also participate in, and lead, international working groups that assess fish stocks and provide scientific advice on how many fish can be safely removed from this renewable resource. This is essential in sustaining our ocean economy for our coastal communities."

Dr Ciaran Kelly, Director of Fisheries Ecosystem Advisory Services at the Marine Institute, said, "The interactive app developed by the Marine Institute is shaping thinking on how independent scientific advice can be delivered to fisheries managers and other stakeholders in the future ensuring that the best available scientific evidence for decision making is easy to access and transparent to all."

The gradual increase in the number of stocks that are sustainably fished, in line with Common Fisheries Policy objectives, has continued. Stocks of haddock, anglerfish (or monkfish), megrim, tuna, and some of the Nephrops (Dublin Bay Prawns), have increased in recent years and continue to be sustainably fished. Work also continues on stocks such as cod, herring and whiting.

The 2021 Stock Book is available electronically on the Marine Institute's website here and as an interactive app here. Most of the scientific work that delivers the Marine Institute's Stock Book is funded under the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF).

Published in Marine Science
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