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€7.5 million in EU grant-aid for Irish marine food research

19th May 2010
€7.5 million in EU grant-aid for Irish marine food research
The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mr. Brendan Smith TD, speaking at a workshop organised by his Department on 29th April, said that Ireland had secured over €7.5 million to date in research funding under the FP7 Food, Agriculture, Fisheries and Biotechnology (FAFB) Programme.

Of this amount, €1.6 million (19%) went to the marine sector with a further €6 million being won in collaborative marine food related research projects across the various FP7 Thematic areas. The occasion of the Workshop, held at the DAFF Backweston Campus, Co. Kildare, was to launch a DAFF booklet highlighting the success of Irish researchers in the FP7 FAFP Programme; discuss how Ireland could increase its participation in this important funding programme and to welcome Ms Maive Rute, EC Director, FAFB Programme, who outlined the future direction and aims and objectives of the FAFB Programme which will continue until 2013.

In opening the Workshop, the Minister described the level of funding secured as "very significant and a clear demonstration of the essential need to continue Ireland's investment in R&D, particularly in relation to our most important indigenous sector and especially given the economic challenges facing both the country and the industry."

Minister Smith said that the involvement of Irish scientists and researchers in the Irish agri-food and fisheries' sciences, over the past three years, and the continuing need to emphasise the importance of industry involvement in research, demonstrated "the essential place of the Irish food sector in the Government's Smart Economy agenda."

The current economic challenges as well as those posed by climate change, energy supply and food security have all pushed agricultural and food production up both the domestic and European political agendas and have emphasised the need for international research collaboration. "These are challenges of a global nature that we simply cannot tackle in isolation, it is essential that we engage internationally to develop strategies that mitigate against and adapt to these challenges", the Minister concluded.

Ms Maive Rute, Director, Directorate E: Food, Agriculture, Fisheries, Biotechnology, outlined a vision for a bright green economy and the role of FP7. "Green" in this context refers to the Europe 2020 Strategy which sets out a vision of a resource efficient, low carbon economy, stimulating green innovation, jobs and growth. Priorities, she said would include: making industry "greener"; providing healthy food; closing the waste loop and retaining the European lead in bio-sciences and technologies.

Mr Geoffrey O'Sullivan, of the Marine Institute's European Information Desk, outlined, how in addition to the €1.6 million won by Irish researchers and SMEs under the FP7 FAFB Programme, an additional €6 million had been won in collaborative marine food related research projects across the various FP7 Thematic areas. These included seven projects related to the ecosystem approach to fisheries management and the detection of toxic algal (€3 million) funded under the Environment Programme; four SME projects related to improvements in production technologies for aquaculture and marine food additives (€2 million) supported under the Research for the Benefit of SMEs Programme and over €1 million for a project investigating the use of marine algae as biomass for biofuel.

Mr O'Sullivan pointed out that there were many opportunities for Marine Research Centres and knowledge-based SMEs to benefit from FAFB funding, particularly in relation to production efficiencies, seafood processing, health and safety and in marine biotechnology. The current level of Irish engagement in the marine food sector is very encouraging, he said, but anticipated a significant increase as new marine food research capacity established under the NDP Marine Research Sub-Programme, which includes €5.2 million DAFF/Marine Institute investment in the NutraMara Programme on Marine Functional Foods, started to kick in.

In closing the Workshop, Dr Dave Beehan, Chief Inspector, DAFF, pointed out that in the current economic climate, FP7 is one source of research funding that is not diminishing. It is increasing year on year. It is the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food's stated strategy to develop internationalisation in our research system and FP7 represents the most obvious mechanism of achieving this aim.

The next call for competitive collaborative research proposals in the FP7 FAFB Programme will be launched on 30th July 2010 with closing dates for submissions in January 2011.

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

 

At A Glance – Ocean Facts

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

(Ref: Marine Institute)

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