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Displaying items by tag: Marine Institute

The Marine Institute’s chief executive has been elected to the Bureau of the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) at the recent annual meeting of its member countries.

Dr Paul Connolly — one of two ICES delegates for Ireland along with Dr Ciaran Kelly, also of the Marine Institute — was voted onto the executive committee of the ICES Council, its principal decision- and policy-making body, at the recent annual meeting of member countries on 21-22 October.

Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue was among those offering their congratulations to Dr Connolly on his new appointment.

“Ireland relies on the work of ICES to support the sustainable use of our seas and oceans and Dr Connolly’s election will further enhance Ireland’s contribution to this valued international organisation,” the minister said.

Marine Institute chairman Dr John Killeen added: “On behalf of the board, I congratulate Dr Connolly on his election by the member countries of ICES to this prestigious and important position.

“The Marine Institute has a long-standing relationship with ICES and regard it as an essential forum for our scientists to collaborate with their international colleagues to deliver impartial advice for our decision makers.”

Dr Connolly has served the ICES community since he was first appointed Irish delegate in 2000, when he took up his role as director of fisheries and ecosystems advisory services at the Marine Institute.

Dr Connolly was elected vice president of ICES in 2003 and served on its board until 2005. He then served as MCAP (Management Committee on the Advisory Process) chair from 2005 to 2008.

He was elected president of ICES from 2012 to 2015, and led the development of the ICES Strategic Plan (2014-2018) which was adopted by 20 member countries. Dr Connolly was appointed CEO of the Marine Institute in October 2019.

ICES is an intergovernmental marine science organisation, with a network of 6,000 scientists from over 700 marine institutes in the 20 member countries that border the North Atlantic.

Ireland joined ICES in 1925 and is a strong supporter of the organisation. The Marine Institute provides a broad range of dedicated marine scientists that make a valuable contribution to the work of ICES.

Through strategic partnerships, ICES works in the Atlantic Ocean also extends into the Arctic, the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea, and the North Pacific Ocean. Some 2,500 scientists participate in ICES activities annually.

ICES advances and shares scientific understanding of marine ecosystems and the services they provide, and uses this knowledge to generate state-of-the-art advice for meeting conservation, management and sustainability goals.

This year’s ICES Council meeting dealt with a broad range of marine issues including the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on scientific data collection, analysis and advice delivery; on the finances of the organisation and on how ICES might contribute to the UN Decade of the Ocean (2021 to 2019).

Published in Marine Science
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Three Irish consortiums have been awarded Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contracts by the Marine Institute and Enterprise Ireland to develop Ireland’s intertidal seaweed resource.

The Phase 1 ‘Challenge’ contracts will run over four months, and will involve scientific observations by satellite, drone and light aircraft to produce accurate estimates of seaweed distribution and biomass, and improve our understanding of Ireland’s coastal marine habitat and ecosystems.

Successful projects may then proceed to scaled-up demonstrations and wider regional resource mapping during 2021.

The move is in response to increasing demand at home and abroad for seaweed and seaweed-based products — from fertilisers and animal feed to cosmetics, medicines and food.

It is estimated that 32 countries actively harvest over 800,000 tonnes from wild stocks and natural beds annually. And in Ireland, the Marine Institute says commercial interest in the sector is growing.

Mick Gillooly, director of oceans, climate and information services at the Marine Institute, says: “With increasing awareness of the economic value of seaweed, mapping the extent of this resource is vital for sustainable management decisions.

“This is an exciting collaboration between industry, small business and research institutions, which will utilise the latest innovations and the expertise of Ireland’s national seabed mapping programme INFOMAR.”

Ireland’s seaweed resource

Among the three consortiums in receipt of these contracts are four SMEs, two research groups and two industry partners.

Supported by IT Carlow, Aerial Agri Tech bring their drone mapping expertise from the terrestrial to the marine domain with industry partner Bláth na Mara (Aran Islands Seaweed).

Fathom, a business technology consulting company based in Dublin, has partnered with Earth and Ocean Sciences at NUI Galway and Arramara Teo to focus on the potential for satellite data augmented by ‘groundtruthing’ (direct observations on the ground).

Meanwhile, Techworks Marine, a provider of oceanographic solutions to monitor the marine environment, has teamed up with GeoAerospace — a geospatial information technology company with expertise in space-borne and airborne remote sensing, cloud platforms and machine learning — and with NUI Galway’s School of Botany and Plant Science.

Phase one will see the three groups develop their projects and feasibility plans. Pending evaluation in early 2021, either one or two consortiums will receive further funding to move into Phase 2A — eight months to demonstrate proof of scalability and lay out a path to commercialisation.

Successful partnerships will have the potential to develop a niche coastal habitat mapping service that could be used to tackle marine pollution, harmful algal blooms or invasive species.

Published in Coastal Notes
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Creating ‘ocean champions’ around Ireland is the latest mission for outreach team members from the Marine Institute’s Explorers Education Programme.

The team are delivering a range of marine projects and seashore safaris in primary schools through blended learning, online activities and outdoor class visits.

This has involved adapting their favourite marine projects and developing new content for teachers and primary school children to use in the classroom.

Each month the programme will launch a new project and a series of new resources teachers and pupils can use. This month’s project is ‘An Ocean of Stories — My Explorers Personal Story’, created by Co Clare-based Explorers outreach officer Carmel Madigan.

The artist, author and habitat researcher says her creative writing project “focuses on wellbeing, creativity and reflecting on our connection with the ocean”.

She adds: “This is a great time to reflect and use our imagination and share our stories. These might include the day the sand got into my sandwiches to the drama of picking up a large seashore crab.

“We will be celebrating the children's work by sharing the stories on the Explorers social media pages. We will also be publishing a selection of our favourite submissions in an Anthology of Short Ocean Stories next year on World Oceans Day.”

Schools and students lacking in broadband access won’t be left out, either, as Carmel has produced a series of videos to inspire the children with their work with will be sent to teachers to share with their classes.

“We have really worked outside the box this term and the Explorer teams have done an amazing job coming up with projects that classes and schools can still take part in,” said the programme’s strategic education manager, Cushla Dromgool-Regan of the Camden Education Trust.

“This includes online engagement, personalised film messages and traditional letter-writing, to name a few. A huge volume of support materials have also been created for the teachers to use in class with the children including interactive short films, workbooks, fun facts and posters.”

Explorers weekly updates are posted on Facebook and Twitter. If you are interested in your class taking part in an Explorers project, contact your nearest Explorers outreach officer or the support services team at Galway Atlantaquaria for more via www.explorers.ie

Published in Coastal Notes

This year’s Irish Groundfish Survey (IGFS 2020) of the North, West and South Coasts of Ireland is set to commence today, Sunday 25 October.

Carried out by the Marine Institute, the IGFS is a demersal trawl survey consisting of around 170 fishing hauls, each of of 30 minutes’ duration, in ICES areas VIa, VIIb, VIIg and VIIj.

As part of the requirements for the 2020 survey, fishing will take place within a two-nautical-mile radius of indicated positions.

The survey will be conducted by the RV Celtic Explorer (callsign EIGB) which will display appropriate lights and signals.

IGFS 2020 survey areas

The vessel will be towing a high headline GOV 36/47 demersal trawl during fishing operations.

Co-ordinates and approximate locations of these hauls are included in Marine Notice No 48 of 2020, a PDF of which is available to download below.

The Marine Institute requests that commercial fishing and other marine operators keep a 2nm area around the tow mid-points clear of any gear or apparatus during the survey period between now and October and Thursday 10 December.

This survey follows the annual Irish Anglerfish and Megrim Survey which was conducted off the West, South West and South Coasts this past February and March.

Published in Fishing

New research led by scientists at University College Cork (UCC) which uses genetic fingerprinting techniques indicated that captive-born salmon are far less successful at reproducing as wild salmon spawning in the same river.

“We looked at the lifetime reproductive success of salmon spawning naturally in the wild,” joint lead author of the study Ronan O’Sullivan of UCC ‘s school of biological, earth and environmental sciences said.

“ So for each adult fish that returned to the river from the sea, we counted up the total number of offspring they produced across their lives that themselves survived to spawning age,” he said.

“We used a genetic pedigree coupled with four decades of salmon data from the Marine Institute’s research facility on the Burrishoole catchment in County Mayo. The results show that captive-bred fish that are deliberately or inadvertently introduced into the wild contribute fewer offspring to the next generation than wild fish, and therefore are not a substitute for natural wild spawners,” he said.

“Thus, they do not enhance the conservation status of naturally self-sustaining salmon populations,” he said.

Dr Paul Connolly, Marine Institute of Ireland chief executive officer said that his organisation welcomed the use of Marine Institute data to “answer a question of international significance that is relevant to conservation efforts for the culturally iconic Atlantic salmon”.

“ This analysis underlines the importance of having long–term biological data to allow management decisions to be based on the best available scientific evidence,” he added.

Further research is needed to work out exactly what is happening when the wild and captive salmon mix, UCC says.

However, it says the research team suspects that hybrid offspring produced by matings between captive and wild parents are genetically less well-equipped to deal with life in the river.

If true, this means that the widespread release of captive animals into the wild might actually do more harm than good in many cases, UCC says.

It says the research team comprised an international group of collaborators based at University College Cork, the Marine Institute, Queen’s University Belfast, the University of Helsinki and the University of Edinburgh. Their research findings are published in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The research is available freely via Open Access here

Published in Marine Science

The Department of the Marine's 2021 budget estimate announced today provides some €13 million in increased funding for the continued promotion of the environmentally sustainable development of fisheries, aquaculture and the wider seafood industry.

This brings the total funding for the Sea Fisheries Programme to €151 million. This sector supports some 16,000 direct and indirect jobs in the coastal communities.

The 2021 provision will allow the Marine Institute to progress the construction of a new €25 million modern research vessel and provide additional funding for the development of fisheries harbours.

Published in RV Tom Crean
Tagged under

The people of Ireland are being invited to share their views on Irish coastal seascapes.

And the feedback gathered will inform Ireland’s Seascape Character Assessment Report, a key technical study for the National Marine Planning Framework.

The new survey follows an online poll this past summer to help classify and describe the essential character of Ireland’s coastal areas and communities.

The responses gathered have informed a draft assessment on which the Marine Institute is now seeking public input — from today, Wednesday 7 October, to Friday 30 October.

“Seascapes are very much about the relationship between people and place and how humans have settled and interacted in and along our coastline — from the earliest inhabitants on this island right up to today,” said Caitríona Nic Aonghusa, manager of marine spatial planning at the Marine Institute.

“By identifying, classifying and describing our seascape character in a holistic way, we can provide a baseline to better inform the planning and management of our seascapes.”

In addition to the public survey, a series of online workshops will be held for those interested in further discussion of the draft assessment.

These will take place next week, on Monday 12 October from 2pm–3pm and Tuesday 13 and Wednesday 14 October from 8pm–9pm. To attend any of these online workshops, email [email protected]

And to celebrate and raise awareness of International Landscape Day on Tuesday 20 October, the Marine Institute is also encouraging people across the island of Ireland to share photographs of seascapes on social media.

Post your photos of Ireland’s seascapes on that date on social media with #IrishSeascapes and tag the Marine Institute on Twitter or Facebook.

Published in Environment

Marine scientists from Ireland will join an international group of ocean experts in a project to map and assess the Atlantic Ocean’s current and future risks from climate change, natural hazards and human activities.

Mission Atlantic brings the Marine Institute together with scientists from Europe, Brazil, South Africa, Canada and the USA to develop the first Integrated Ecosystem Assessments (IEAs) at the scale of the Atlantic basin.

Using high-resolution ocean models; data collected with marine robots and acoustic sensors; artificial neural networks; risk assessment methods; and advanced statistical analysis, the international partnership will assess the pressures imposed on the Atlantic’s marine ecosystems — especially those related to plankton and fish distribution — and identify the parts most at risk.

The Marine Institute says this “unique” project — funded by a €11.5 million grant from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme — will engage scientists, managers of marine resources and other stakeholders in balancing the need for environmental protection with sustainable development.

‘Mission Atlantic will contribute to a better and more sustainable future for life on Earth’

“In an era of rapid transformations affecting our societies and our lives, we are asked to provide the scientific knowledge necessary to face future challenges and to guarantee a sustainable future for the next generations,” says project co-ordinator Patrizio Mariani.

“By studying the complex Atlantic Ocean ecosystems, Mission Atlantic will contribute to a better and more sustainable future for life on Earth.”

The Marine Institute is leading the IEA approach for each of the seven case study areas throughout the Atlantic. In the Celtic Sea, this will be underpinned by regional data from INFOMAR, Ireland’s ongoing seabed mapping programme.

Marine Institite chief executive Dr Paul Connolly said: “The comprehensive mapping of the depth, character and benthic habitat of our seabed is critical to assess change, manage resources and risks, and to predict understand and realise the potential of our marine resource.”

Mission Atlantic will also focus on improving education, professional development opportunities and maritime policy in countries that border the Atlantic Ocean, north and south.

More information on the project will be available soon at www.missionatlantic.eu

Published in Marine Science

The Marine Institute’s Explorers Education Programme team has joined marine scientists, teachers and educators across Europe and North America to hit the beach to celebrate World Cleanup Day, which took place this year last Saturday 19 September.

During the month of September, members of the EMSEA-Atlanic network from Ireland, Azores, Portugal, USA and Canada have been taking part in local beach cleanups “with a focus on highlighting some of the prominent litter items frequently found on our seashores around the Atlantic”, according to EMSEA board member Evy Copejans.

As well as bringing communities together to learn more about marine wildlife and the marine environment, beach cleanups are also opportunity to find the most extraordinary things washed up on the shore.

In the past, EMSEA members have found messages in bottles, rubber ducks, bowling balls, and mini-boats that have drifted on currents across the Atlantic.

And they are sharing any oddities and treasures discovered on beaches on social media with the hashtags #seawhatifound and #EMSEAAtlantic.

“On the west coast of Ireland, in Galway we often find buoys, fishing gear and sometimes items from halfway across the world,” said Padraic Creedon, outreach officer at Galway Atlantaquaria.

Explorers’ Cushla Dromgool-Regan added: “We are connected by the ocean in so many ways and recognise the importance of working together to ensure the ocean is sustained for our families, friends and future generations.

Coastal clean-ups help us raise awareness about the connections we have and the influence the ocean has on us, as well as the impact we have on the ocean.”

Published in Marine Wildlife

An Irish-led team of marine scientists on board the RV Celtic Explorer returns to Galway Harbour today (Wednesday 16 September) after more than three weeks investigating historic climate change in the Arctic region.

Scientists from NUI Galway, University of Southampton, University of Bremen and Bergen University had been capturing data in the Nordic and Greenland Seas as part of the CIAAN survey (Constraining the Impact of Arctic Amplification in the Nordic Sea: A biogeochemical approach).

This survey aims to provide new insight into how essential climate variables are recorded in geologic archives.

Assessing the impact and magnitude of past (pre-industrial) climate changes is critical to further our understanding of how the climate system will respond to a rapidly changing Arctic ecosystem, the scientists explain.

‘One of the key challenges in climate change science is assessing the magnitude of future climate change’

Lead scientist Dr Audrey Morley, from the School of Geography and Archaeology at NUI Galway, says: “One of the key challenges in climate change science is assessing the magnitude of future climate change, due to our short observational records which are limited to the past 150 years.

“Our research is unique, as we are not only observing modern essential climate variables, but we will also look into the past to assess how essential climate variables have evolved since before pre-industrial conditions.

“This long-term perspective is crucial and will help us to better understand our environment and the environmental consequences of human activities.”

Dr Morley notes that the Arctic is an especially sensitive and vulnerable environment with regards to contemporary climate change.

“The North Atlantic and Nordic Seas are a key region for the formation of North Atlantic deepwater and the uptake of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Whether or not this region will remain a carbon sink during rapidly warming climates is a question that remains to be answered,” she says.

As part of this research survey, the RV Celtic Explorer travelled to 79 degrees north in the Greenland Sea, which is the highest latitude reached by the marine research vessel.

‘The RV Celtic Explorer is crucial to facilitate this type of international research’

In order to operate in the Arctic region, the RV Celtic Explorer was required to obtain a Polar Code Certification — becoming the first Irish vessel to achieve this status, which greatly increases its ocean research capabilities.

“The RV Celtic Explorer is crucial to facilitate this type of international research,” says Marine Institute chief executive Dr Paul Connolly.

“This research in the Arctic region will deepen our knowledge of the region and will improve models that can forecast changes to our oceans and climate. This will inform effective policy and management decisions to meet the challenges posed by climate change.”

Published in Marine Science
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Dublin Bay

Dublin Bay on the east coast of Ireland stretches over seven kilometres, from Howth Head on its northern tip to Dalkey Island in the south. It's a place most Dubliners simply take for granted, and one of the capital's least visited places. But there's more going on out there than you'd imagine.

The biggest boating centre is at Dun Laoghaire Harbour on the Bay's south shore that is home to over 1,500 pleasure craft, four waterfront yacht clubs and Ireland's largest marina.

The bay is rather shallow with many sandbanks and rocky outcrops, and was notorious in the past for shipwrecks, especially when the wind was from the east. Until modern times, many ships and their passengers were lost along the treacherous coastline from Howth to Dun Laoghaire, less than a kilometre from shore.

The Bay is a C-shaped inlet of the Irish Sea and is about 10 kilometres wide along its north-south base, and 7 km in length to its apex at the centre of the city of Dublin; stretching from Howth Head in the north to Dalkey Point in the south. North Bull Island is situated in the northwest part of the bay, where one of two major inshore sandbanks lie, and features a 5 km long sandy beach, Dollymount Strand, fronting an internationally recognised wildfowl reserve. Many of the rivers of Dublin reach the Irish Sea at Dublin Bay: the River Liffey, with the River Dodder flow received less than 1 km inland, River Tolka, and various smaller rivers and streams.

Dublin Bay FAQs

There are approximately ten beaches and bathing spots around Dublin Bay: Dollymount Strand; Forty Foot Bathing Place; Half Moon bathing spot; Merrion Strand; Bull Wall; Sandycove Beach; Sandymount Strand; Seapoint; Shelley Banks; Sutton, Burrow Beach

There are slipways on the north side of Dublin Bay at Clontarf, Sutton and on the southside at Dun Laoghaire Harbour, and in Dalkey at Coliemore and Bulloch Harbours.

Dublin Bay is administered by a number of Government Departments, three local authorities and several statutory agencies. Dublin Port Company is in charge of navigation on the Bay.

Dublin Bay is approximately 70 sq kilometres or 7,000 hectares. The Bay is about 10 kilometres wide along its north-south base, and seven km in length east-west to its peak at the centre of the city of Dublin; stretching from Howth Head in the north to Dalkey Point in the south.

Dun Laoghaire Harbour on the southside of the Bay has an East and West Pier, each one kilometre long; this is one of the largest human-made harbours in the world. There also piers or walls at the entrance to the River Liffey at Dublin city known as the Great North and South Walls. Other harbours on the Bay include Bulloch Harbour and Coliemore Harbours both at Dalkey.

There are two marinas on Dublin Bay. Ireland's largest marina with over 800 berths is on the southern shore at Dun Laoghaire Harbour. The other is at Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club on the River Liffey close to Dublin City.

Car and passenger Ferries operate from Dublin Port to the UK, Isle of Man and France. A passenger ferry operates from Dun Laoghaire Harbour to Howth as well as providing tourist voyages around the bay.

Dublin Bay has two Islands. Bull Island at Clontarf and Dalkey Island on the southern shore of the Bay.

The River Liffey flows through Dublin city and into the Bay. Its tributaries include the River Dodder, the River Poddle and the River Camac.

Dollymount, Burrow and Seapoint beaches

Approximately 1,500 boats from small dinghies to motorboats to ocean-going yachts. The vast majority, over 1,000, are moored at Dun Laoghaire Harbour which is Ireland's boating capital.

In 1981, UNESCO recognised the importance of Dublin Bay by designating North Bull Island as a Biosphere because of its rare and internationally important habitats and species of wildlife. To support sustainable development, UNESCO’s concept of a Biosphere has evolved to include not just areas of ecological value but also the areas around them and the communities that live and work within these areas. There have since been additional international and national designations, covering much of Dublin Bay, to ensure the protection of its water quality and biodiversity. To fulfil these broader management aims for the ecosystem, the Biosphere was expanded in 2015. The Biosphere now covers Dublin Bay, reflecting its significant environmental, economic, cultural and tourism importance, and extends to over 300km² to include the bay, the shore and nearby residential areas.

On the Southside at Dun Laoghaire, there is the National Yacht Club, Royal St. George Yacht Club, Royal Irish Yacht Club and Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club as well as Dublin Bay Sailing Club. In the city centre, there is Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club. On the Northside of Dublin, there is Clontarf Yacht and Boat Club and Sutton Dinghy Club. While not on Dublin Bay, Howth Yacht Club is the major north Dublin Sailing centre.

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