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SeaMonitor Project Uses Marine Species Tracking Technology

12th April 2019
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(from left to right): Colin Armstrong (Dept. Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs), Dr Pieter-Jan Schӧn (Agri-Food and Bioscience Institute), Gina McIntyre (CEO, Special EU Programmes Body), Dr David Bailey (Principal Investigator, University of Glasgow), Ross McGill (Principal Project Officer, Loughs Agency), Dr Peter Heffernan (CEO, Marine Institute), Joe Mahon, Sharon McMahon (Designated Officer, Loughs Agency), Dr Robert Rosell (Principal Investigator, Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute)  © Mark Hamill Photography (from left to right): Colin Armstrong (Dept. Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs), Dr Pieter-Jan Schӧn (Agri-Food and Bioscience Institute), Gina McIntyre (CEO, Special EU Programmes Body), Dr David Bailey (Principal Investigator, University of Glasgow), Ross McGill (Principal Project Officer, Loughs Agency), Dr Peter Heffernan (CEO, Marine Institute), Joe Mahon, Sharon McMahon (Designated Officer, Loughs Agency), Dr Robert Rosell (Principal Investigator, Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute) © Mark Hamill Photography

A unique marine research project, the first of its kind in Europe, studying the seas around Ireland, Western Scotland and Northern Ireland was launched this week in Derry–Londonderry. The SeaMonitor project is led by the Loughs Agency and supported by another eight leading marine research institutions using innovative marine species tracking technology to better understand and protect vulnerable marine life in our oceans.

Funding for the SeaMonitor project has been provided by the EU’s INTERREG VA Programme (Environment Theme), which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), to the tune of €4.6m. Match-funding for this project has been provided by the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government in Ireland. This substantial investment will extend the existing network of ‘smart’ buoys and oceanographic models – delivered by sister projects COMPASS and MarPAMM – so that a line of acoustic receivers runs between the island of Ireland and Scotland.

The SeaMonitor project will deliver Europe’s largest telemetric marine array and spatial models supporting the conservation of basking shark, cetaceans, salmon, seals and skate. It will also provide three Management Plans; one for skate in the area from Loch Sunart to the Sound of Jura and two for salmon in both the River Foyle and Clyde estuaries.
Loughs Agency Designated Officer, Sharon McMahon, explained: “For over twenty-one years, the Loughs Agency has been at the forefront of protection and conservation of our local waters and aquaculture. So we are really excited to be leading the way alongside expert colleagues from statutory and academic institutions and a range of stakeholders that will ultimately produce dynamic management plans for some of our most important and vulnerable species”.

Welcoming the project Gina McIntyre, CEO of the Special EU Programmes Body, said; “The maritime territory across Europe is at risk from multiple challenges and must be protected for future generations of citizens. This tri-regional project will help to safeguard our precious shared marine environment by providing much-needed management and conservation work that will protect priority species and habitats, across Ireland, Northern Ireland and Western Scotland.”

John Speers, Marine and Fisheries Director at the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland, said “I am pleased to support the SeaMonitor project, which will use the best available technology to track some of our most important marine species. These animals spend the most of their lives hidden from view and are only occasionally seen at the surface, making monitoring them very challenging. The SeaMonitor project will help us better understand their life cycles and improve protection of these important marine species.”

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)

At A Glance – Figaro Race

  • It starts in June or July from a French port.
  • The race is split into four stages varying from year to year, from the length of the French coast and making up a total of around 1,500 to 2,000 nautical miles (1,700 to 2,300 mi; 2,800 to 3,700 km) on average.
  • Over the years the race has lasted between 10 and 13 days at sea.
  • The competitor is alone in the boat, participation is mixed.
  • Since 1990, all boats are of one design.

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