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Displaying items by tag: shellfish

#Connemara - Galway Bay FM reports that a shellfish research centre in Connemara was damaged in a fire earlier this week.

The blaze broke out in a section at the centre in Carna dedicated to studying the control of sea lice in salmon farms.

The facility is part of NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute, the university’s hub for environmental, marine and energy research.

Published in Coastal Notes

#Shellfish - The Marine Institute, as the EU designated national reference laboratory for shellfish toxins and shellfish microbiology in Ireland, has launched a new shellfish safety website.

Incorporating a range of user friendly info-graphics and maps, the site will provide information on recent trends analysis as well as current status of shellfish production areas.

The new website has been launched to provide regulatory authorities, shellfish producers, processors, hospitality industry, public health officials and the general public with the most up-to-date information available.

The Marine Institute carries out a year-round national testing programme to ensure that all shellfish are safe before being placed on the market for human consumption.

“With over 100 coastal aquaculture production areas farming a variety of shellfish species, and many more offshore areas being fished commercially, it is essential that an efficient and accurate method of communicating these test results is in place,” said Joe Silke, manager of shellfish safety for the Marine Institute.

The open status of shellfish production areas is necessary before the product can be placed on the market. This open status depends on clear tests being obtained for a comprehensive range of shellfish toxins, and in addition, harmful algal species from water samples must be tested on an ongoing basis. In addition, microbiological classification status is assigned on the basis of ongoing testing.

“Placing shellfish on the market requires speedy testing and reporting laboratory results. The Institute has strived towards providing state of the art processes and this new website will provide current status and a range of extra information that was not previously online,” added Silke.

All shellfish safety data are continuously compiled on databases at the Marine Institute and are essential to assign the appropriate ongoing status to the shellfish production areas.

The new website, the first phase of which is now available online, will feature new information such as the progress of sample analysis through the lab, recent trends in toxin and harmful algal concentrations, and maps to indicate the national trends.

Further features will be rolled out in the coming months.

Published in Fishing

#Shellfish - Galway will host the 11th International Conference on Molluscan Shellfish Safety (ICMSS 2017) this summer from Sunday 14 to Thursday 18 May.

ICMSS 2017 will be hosted by the Marine Institute in association with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, Irish Shellfish Association, National University of Ireland and Bord Iascaigh Mhara in the Bailey Allen Hall at NUI Galway.

This 11th conference in the biannual forum series, subtitled ‘Protecting consumers, assuring supply, growing confidence’, offers an important multidisciplinary interface between regulatory, scientific and industrial representatives of the international molluscan food safety community. Unusual, emerging and novel shellfish risk factors will be discussed, offering new information and solutions.

ICMSS 2017 will include keynote presentations from acclaimed international experts in the area. A series of workshops will be held in conjunction with the event on Friday 19 and Saturday 20 May which will be of particular interest to shellfish safety professionals and students, including microbiologists, toxin chemists, toxicologists, marine scientists, regulators, policy makers, food safety specialists, environmental health officials, engineers, environmental managers, academics and undergraduate and postgraduate students.

More information can be found on the ICMSS 2017 website. The programme is available to as a PDF to read or download HERE.

Published in Marine Science

#Jobs - The Marine Institute requires a laboratory analyst to provide support to a two-year research project investigating norovirus, hepatitis A virus, hepatitis E virus and sapovirus concentrations in oysters.

The work will primarily involve laboratory based detection of the viruses in oysters using existing and proposed molecular procedures. In addition, there may be some elements of field work including sampling and environmental monitoring.

This temporary specified-purpose contract of employment is funded under the FIRM programme and will run for a duration of up to two years. The successful candidate will be on probation for the first six months.

To apply, a CV and letter of application summarising experience and skill set applicable to the position should be emailed to [email protected] or posted to Human Resources at the Marine Institute, Rinville, Oranmore, Galway. All correspondence for this post should quote reference LA-FIRM-Jan 2017

All applications for this post should be received by the Marine Institute before noon next Tuesday 7 February. Late applications will not be accepted.

A detailed job description is available from the Marine Institute website HERE.

Published in Jobs

#Seafood - Donegal's oyster industry has been hit by an import ban in Hong Kong over an outbreak of food poisoning.

According to The Irish Times, food safety investigators in the Chinese territory were notified by Irish authorities two weeks ago that the presence of norovirus was confirmed at a raw oyster processing plant in the north-eastern county that services the crucial Asian market.

Hong Kong subsequently banned the import of raw oysters from Donegal "for the sake of prudence". More HERE.

Published in Fishing

#Shellfish - The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) is holding a series of Shellfish Regional Information Meetings around the coast in April and May.

The informal events, held in association with the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA), the Marine Institute and Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), aim to provide an opportunity for all those involved in the shellfish industry to learn more about the role of the Shellfish Safety Monitoring Programme and how it assists industry to ensure that live bivalve molluscs placed on the market meet the highest standards of food safety.

This series of events will focus on microbiological classification of shellfish production areas but will also cover topics such as biotoxin and phytoplankton monitoring, phytoplankton sampling and viruses. 

The first of these meetings takes place on 15 April at the SFPA office in Clonakilty, Co Cork, followed by 16 April at the Brehon Hotel in Killarney, Co Kerry.

On 27 April, the meeting moves to the Clann Ri Hotel in Letterkenny, Co Donegal, followed on 28 April at the Marine Institute in Oranmore, Co Galway.

The final meeting in the series will be held on 6 May at the FSAI office on Lower Abbey Street in Dublin city centre.

Registration for the events in Donegal, Galway, Cork and Dublin is from 1pm with a light lunch served. These sessions will run from 1:30pm to 4:30pm. In Kerry, registration is from 9:30am with tea/coffee served. The sessions will run from 10am to 1pm, when a light lunch will be served.

To register for one of these free half-day events, click on the any of the links above or phone Lorna Tallon on 01 817 1398.

Published in Fishing

#Mussels - "Major concerns" abound over an endangered species of freshwater mussel after a Connemara roadway project given the go-ahead by planners before its design was finalised.

According to The Irish Times, locals expected the road project to be an upgrade of the existing route between Oughterard and Maam Cross, but only found out later that a wholly new road would be built through their land via compulsory purchase orders.

Besides splitting a number of farms in Glengowna near Oughterard, the final scheme will impact on the catchment of the Owenriff river, one of Europe's oldest trout hatcheries and host to one of the world's most important populations of the freshwater pearl mussel Margaritifera margaritifera.

And according to an independent ecologist, the presence of the latter means planning permission cannot be legally granted in the way it has been decided.

The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing
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#Fishing - The unregulated use of pesticides by fish farms poses a significant threat to both the shellfish industry and marine wildlife, according to new research findings.

The Irish Examiner reports on the study by the Norwegian Institute for Water Research, which confirms that pesticides used to kill sea lice infestations in aquaculture schemes often exceed environmental quality standards, or EQS.

Researchers studies samples from fish farms in Norway, which has no EQS system, and compared them to thresholds in the UK.

The study has been welcomed by lobby group Save Bantry Bay, whose secretary Alect O'Donovan claimed the value of shellfish to the local economy was more than €640,000 in 2009.

"It is ludicrous to put this at risk by adding more salmon farms and greater pesticide emissions that have the potential to wipe out stocks," he added.

Management of Ireland's shellfish fisheries and wildlife in general will be up for discussion at this year's Buckland Lecture in UCD next Wednesday evening (29 October), as Derek Evans writes in The Irish Times.

Malcolm Windsor, formerly of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation, will be joined by Frank Convery, Ken Whelan and a panel of experts on the night to debate these important issues.

Published in Fishing
Tagged under

#MarineScience - The Marine Institute has headed a major international project demonstrating the latest advances in shellfish safety. 

Results of this four-year project - presented on Tuesday 10 September at the ASTOX-II Project workshop in the Oranmore HQ of the Marine Institute – were described as very significant for the shellfish industry, and for the institute's key position in the field of marine biotoxin science.

According to researchers, new discoveries made during the project regarding the biological source, chemistry and toxicology of a naturally occurring marine biotoxin Azaspiracid will lead to a better understanding and regulation of the problem. 

This toxin is regulated under EU law and can accumulate in shellfish resulting in closures of shellfish production areas in order to prevent human illness. 

Irish scientists have worked on understanding the nature and origin of the toxin since it was first discovered on the west coast of Ireland in the mid 1990s.

An international group of over 40 world-leading scientists in the field of biotoxin science who attended the workshop described several practical tools that have been developed for the analysis of this toxin and its micro algal source. 

The group also described several new phytoplankton species responsible for producing the toxins, developed new molecular probes and other assays for monitoring the problem, and for the first time produced details of how the toxin affects consumers during and following digestion. 

These answers are essential in setting appropriate shellfish safety standards to ensure that only the highest quality Irish shellfish reach the market, said the Marine Institute.

Another major output of the project was the purification of several Azaspiracid variants directly from Irish shellfish and micro algae for use as certified reference materials. These ultra-pure extracts are essential for analytical techniques and are now distributed to monitoring and research labs all over the world.

“The success of this project is very important for food safety in Ireland and internationally but also for the Irish shellfish industry,” said project manager Jane Kilcoyne of the Marine Institute. “When a bay is closed for shellfish production because of a harmful algal bloom it can cause severe economic hardship for producers in that area. 

"We hope the practical tools developed through this project for example new rapid test methods will help to minimise the impact of these harmful toxins on shellfish producers by providing better prediction and monitoring systems.”

The ASTOX-II project team of Irish, Northern Irish, French, Norwegian, American, Canadian and German scientists worked together on biological, chemical and toxicological aspects of the compound. Since the project began it has generated many publications – including three PhD studies, 29 peer-reviewed papers, three book chapters and 44 presentations at national and international conferences - and others are anticipated after its completion in November 2013. 

These publications stimulate global interest in Azaspiracid research, disseminate new knowledge and reinforce Ireland’s position as a leading performer in marine toxins research. This knowledge continues to enable the development of national and international policy, which supports the development of Ireland’s seafood sector.

Speaking after the event, Marine Institute CEO Peter Heffernan congratulated the scientific team. “This project has brought together a unique team of Irish and international scientists who are among the world leaders in their field of ocean environment biotoxin analyses and draw from the experience of leading marine and food safety organisations in the world whose combined efforts have significantly advanced scientific knowledge in this field,” he said.

The project is carried out under the Sea Change strategy with the support of the Marine Institute and the Marine Research Sub-programme of the National Development Plan 2007–2013, co-financed under the European Regional Development Fund.

The workshop - which followed on from the 10th annual Shellfish Safety Science workshop in Galway earlier this year - continued yesterday (11 September) with a seminar hosted by Agilent Technologies focusing on monitoring of environmental pollutants and toxins using an advanced analytical technique used by the Marine Institute called mass spectrometry.

More information is available in the project brochure and leaflet, both available to read and download as PDFs.

Published in Marine Science
Tagged under

#Fishing - "Absolutely hammered" is how a Carlingford Lough oyster farmer describes the state of his business after £350,000 (€404,000) worth of his stock was destroyed by a virus in the recent heatwave.

And as the Belfast Telegraph reports, Darren Cunningham now fears financial ruin after at least 80% of his juvenile oysters were wiped out by the ostreid herpes virus, which kills the shellfish when the water temperature rises above 16 degrees.

Unfortunately for Cunningham and fellow oysterman Harold Henning, who fears a total loss of his young oysters, Stormont has no compensation scheme in place for lost stocks in Northern Ireland.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing
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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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