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SmartBay Ireland have collaborated with the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) to launch a new scholarship scheme for a candidate from the Connemara Gaeltacht to begin a Master’s research programme.

Commencing in November 2020, the new programme aims to develop post-primary educational resources in the field of marine renewable energy.

And the scholarship, which is now open for applications, is designed to fund and support a candidate in the Connemara Gaeltacht Region — while also driving awareness around ocean literacy, marine renewable energy, and sustainability through education in local schools.

The successful candidate will receive full funding support to the value of €44,500 over the duration of the 24-month project, which will focus on the preparation and delivery of educational resources at post-primary level, in both English and Irish.

SmartBay Ireland general manager John Breslin said: “This scholarship is an excellent opportunity for the successful candidate not only to advance in their career, but to be at the forefront of developing educational resources and make a positive and lasting impact on the post primary curriculum.”

Applications are open until noon next Wednesday 16 September for candidates with experience as a post-primary educator, preferably in the field of science, with demonstrable proficiency and fluency in the Irish language.

“This is a very exciting opportunity which would suit an enthusiastic candidate with a passion for education, the marine and sustainability,” said Dr Róisín Nash, a lecturer at GMIT.

“At a time when research and management of essential marine resources are key features of a sustainable future, this is a unique project with lots of opportunities for the candidate to be creative and influential in incorporating marine and renewable energy into the classroom.”

The SmartBay Ireland Postgraduate Research Scholarship is funded by the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, the Marine Institute, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and Údarás na Gaeltachta.

Full details on the postgraduate research scholarship and application procedure are available from GMIT website HERE.

Published in Power From the Sea

Seven successful applicants will be awarded funding under the Marine Institute’s SmartBay National Infrastructure Access Programme (NIAP) following the 2018/2019 funding call.

The awardees will receive support of around €25,000 per project to trial and validate their technology and/or gain access to data feeds to carry out scientific research at the SmartBay Marine and Renewable Energy Test Site in Galway Bay.

The call was open to both academia and industry, and other relevant organisations, on the island of Ireland to access the SmartBay test site and subsea observatory.

The chosen organisations may deploy equipment on the test site, connect to and access the underwater observatory, and analyse the many data feeds which are collected on site every day.

Over the past seven years, more than 50 projects have been awarded funding, facilitating a wide range of multi-disciplinary marine research, development and innovation at this national facility, the Marine Institute says.

Welcoming the announcement, the institute’s outgoing chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan said the funding awards “are aligned with the goals of the national Marine Research and Innovation Strategy 2017–2021”.

This year the following projects were awarded funding:

  • Dublin City University — Demystifying the ocean through underwater video analysis: marine life activity detection, classification and indexing for the SmartBay ocean observation platform
  • Sligo Institute of Technology — A small waterplane area twin hulled (SWATH) tide buoy with real-time kinematic (RTK) positioning for accurate (centimetre level) tide gauge calibration
  • Queen’s University Belfast — Can introduced marine infrastructure enhance the conservation of vulnerable species?
  • Dundalk Institute of Technology — Wave parameter estimation from oscillating water column pressure signal - Phase 2 electronic optimisation of the WASP
  • Galway Mayo Institute of Technology — Environmental DNA/RNA metabarcoding for monitoring marine biodiversity in Galway Bay, with particular attention to marine invasive alien species
  • Danalto Ltd — LoRaC2.4: a geolocation technology for the marine environment
  • NUI Galway — Wave resource characterisation at the Galway Bay Marine and Renewable Energy Test Site

The first projects are preparing for deployment and testing over the coming month.

SmartBay is Ireland’s national marine test and demonstration facility for the development of innovative products and services for the global maritime sector. The National Infrastructure Access Programme is funded by the Marine Institute under the Marine Research Programme with the support of the Irish Government.

Published in Marine Science
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#Jobs - SmartBay Ireland is seeking to recruit a community liaison co-ordinator for its marine and renewable energy test site and subsea observatory in Galway Bay.

The successful candidate will have a contract with SmartBay, but the focus of the job “will be to facilitate communication between residents, community groups, schools, local businesses and interested parties with the view to increasing local understanding and support” for the SmartBay project off Spiddal.

Written and verbal fluency in both English and Irish is a requirement for this role, as is a degree or equivalent experience in community development or a related subject.

The closing date for applications is Wednesday 31 October. The full job description and details on how to apply can be found here in English, and also as Gaeilge.

Published in Jobs
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#MarineScience - More than 70 leading marine scientists from across Europe met in Galway recently to discuss open access to research on ocean observation.

The Marine Institute in Oranmore hosted the second general assembly of the EU-funded Jerico-NEXT Project, which aims to build on the ongoing co-operation of coastal observatories in Europe — such as SmartBay in Galway — for wider application by the research community and society alike.

A fundamental tenet of the project is that coastal areas are the “most productive and dynamic environment” in the world’s oceans, according to the institute, with significant potential for renewable energy in particular.

“The Marine Institute has a longstanding commitment to the collection, processing and analysis of high quality coastal marine observations,” said the institute’s Paul Gaughan.

“In Ireland we are utilising the SmartBay coastal observatory, located 5km off Spiddal in Galway Bay, as a key component in this trans-European collaboration effort.

“From this we are able to deliver high quality information about sea conditions, subsea video and audio data in real-time to scientists around Europe to access and analyse.”

Data from the SmartBay site are freely available online.

The Marine Institute also recently hosted a delegation of officials from Kenya as part of the Memorandum of Understanding signed last year with the Kenyan Marine Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI).

The official visit focused on developing an action plan around seven priority areas outlined in the MoU, which include plans for marine fisheries management, hydro-acoustics and assessment of pelagic fisheries resources.

Other priorities are spatial analysis and mapping of vessel monitoring system (VMS) data, integration of VMS and logbook data for fisheries management, and a data management strategy.

Opportunities for exchange, study visits and developing joint PhD and post-doctoral research projects were also a focus of discussions.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineScience - The SmartBay Observatory in Galway Bay will be brought ashore for essential maintenance in the coming days.

Last week Ocean Crest Marine, with diver Mark Kerrigan, prepared for the recovery of the underwater observatory, located 1.5 km off the coast of Spiddal, which has been continuously monitoring the underwater environment over the past 15 months.

It uses cameras, instruments and sensors for continuous live underwater observations giving marine scientists and other ocean researchers unique real-time access to monitor ongoing changes in the marine environment.

Over the coming weeks, the observatory will be thoroughly cleaned, all the scientific instruments will be replaced, and new underwater lamps will be added to improve the high-definition video camera footage.

“We also plan to install a microplastics sampling net and a new underwater stills camera in partnership with European marine science researchers,” said Alan Berry of the Marine Institute.

These research projects are due to commence mid-July, when the observatory will be reinstated, to continue to collect important information on the marine environment from the depths of Galway Bay.

The SmartBay Observatory in Galway Bay contributes to a growing global network of real-time data capture systems deployed within the ocean.

Data relating to the marine environment at the site is transferred through a fibre-optic cable to the Marine Institute headquarters and onwards onto the internet.

This data includes a live video stream, the depth of the observatory node, the sea temperature and salinity, and estimates of the chlorophyll and turbidity levels in the water which give an indication of the volume of phytoplankton and other particles, such as sediment, in the water.

Published in Marine Science
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#SmartBay - Galway's new SmartBay ocean observatory will share in a €11m European funding boost for ocean energy testing, as Silicon Republic reports.

The subsea observatory in Galway Bay – launched earlier this month in tandem with SeaFest and the Our Ocean Wealth Conference – is included along with projects in the UK, France and the Netherlands under the Funding Ocean Renewable Energy through Strategic European Action (FORESEA) programme.

SmartBay has been conceived to support the testing of quarter-scale prototypes of ocean energy devices alongside its ocean data collection capacity, which lowers the cost barriers for commercial research and development in the growing sector. Silicon Republic has more on the story HERE.

The news also comes after the signing of an energy co-operation declaration with nine other EU countries focusing on the development of wind and ocean energy, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Power From the Sea

#SmartBay - Launching in tandem with the Our Ocean Wealth Conference in Galway today (Friday 1 July), the SmartBay Subsea Observatory will begin feeding data from the seabed at Galway Bay to businesses, researchers, scientists and policy makers.

Supported by the Marine Institute, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland, the SmartBay Subsea Observatory is considered a key element of creating an infrastructure to support the blue economy that's critical to the success of Ireland's integrated marine plan.

Technology deployed at the observatory will be used to collect valuable data from the ocean and will be a critical component of a world-class maritime infrastructure in Ireland.

Speaking at Digital Ocean today at the Meyrick Hotel, Galway SmartBay general manager John Breslin said: "The SmartBay observatory represents the Internet of Things for the marine.

"Thanks to the extensive underwater equipment we have installed, real-time data from sensors can be accessed through the web and analysed by researchers and companies trying to commercialise novel marine technologies.

"The information from the subsea observatory will accelerate developments in the marine sector and contribute to environmental monitoring, the development of ocean energy technologies, education and research as well as maritime security. It is a hugely significant addition to Ireland¹s Digital Ocean IoT infrastructure".

In 2015, the RV Celtic Explorer was used to lay a 4km cable and a frame was installed on the seabed to which sensors and monitoring equipment were attached as part of the development of the ocean observatory.

Now for the first time, the cable will supply power to the site and allow for unlimited data transfer from the site for researchers testing new and innovative marine technologies.

"The SmartBay subsea observatory will greatly enhance our understanding of the sea, the impact of weather and climate change, and how the sea reacts in various conditions and how our man-made products will react underwater," Marine Institute chief executive Peter Heffernan.

Digital Ocean: A Pathway for Developing Ireland's Blue Economy has been is organised by the Marine Institute with the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, IDA, Enterprise Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, the Irish Marine Development Office and SmartBay Ireland.

The event aims to promote Ireland's digital ocean opportunity highlighting how technology companies can drive new forms of innovation in the blue economy using Ireland as a test-bed with its significant marine resource, world-class expertise and infrastructure.

Tonight's edition of Seascapes on RTÉ Radio 1 and Afloat.ie will have more on the SmartBay project.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineScience - SmartBay Ireland has entered into a transatlantic collaboration agreement with the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland in St John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, Dublin City University and the Marine Institute.

The Memorandum of Understanding was signed at a reception hosted by the Canadian Embassy during a recent Canadian trade mission to Ireland. Welcoming the agreement, Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute, said: "This is a tangible example of the type of transatlantic collaboration envisaged in the Galway Statement.

"I am especially pleased to build on the strong partnerships established with our colleagues in Newfoundland and to see the exciting collaborative opportunities in sensor technology test and demonstration for our linked SmartBay initiatives."

The agreement is designed to further consolidate and develop the partnership that exists between the marine institutes of Newfoundland and Labrador and Ireland and the SmartBay infrastructures.

Glenn Blackwood, vice-president of Memorial University, said: "Since the establishment of our marine institute, we have focused on building meaningful relationships with industry partners. This MOU solidifies our commitment to further strengthen ongoing links between SmartBay Newfoundland and Labrador and SmartBay Ireland and allows for increased collaboration on the work that both jurisdictions are conducting in the ocean industry."

The key aims of the agreement are the sharing of assets, capacity and capability in a joint mission to provide access by scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs to both SmartBay test and validation infrastructures currently deployed in the North Atlantic.

Dr Fiona Regan, director of the Marine and Environmental Sensing Technology Hub (MESTECH) and SmartBay Ireland principal investigator, added: "This exciting collaboration will enable the establishment of joint projects in the area of ocean observation with our academic and industry partners from Ireland and Canada, sharing expertise and infrastructure."

These objectives will be achieved through a range of activities including: joint industry and academic research projects; outreach and education programmes; and the identification of opportunities to leverage funding for joint research projects and the expansion of collaborative arrangements to include other jurisdictions bordering the North Atlantic.

John Breslin, general manager of SmartBay Ireland, said: "We are delighted to be working with our Canadian partners to utilise the infrastructure and expertise within both SmartBay facilities to identify and develop sensor-driven decision support tools to address specific industry needs within the oil and gas, aquaculture and telecommunications sectors."

This agreement is based on a common vision and cultural appreciation of the societal and economic value of the ocean and is another step toward the utilisation of the jurisdictions' joint facilities and expertise to deliver projects of scientific and economic benefit.

Ron Newhook, director of the Marine Institute of Newfoundland and Labrador's Office of Research and Development and Randy Gillespie, director of the institute's Centre for Applied Ocean Technology were part of the recent Newfoundland and Labrador trade mission to Ireland and attended the MOU signing.

"Capturing the spirit of the Galway Declaration, this new MOU renews and strengthens transatlantic collaborations between industry, governments, academia and NGOs," said Newhook.

"Together, SmartBay Ireland and the Marine Institute's Centre for Applied Ocean Technology, which currently operates SmartBay Newfoundland and SmartAtlantic, will lead the way in the development and implementation of a sustainable observatory which will provide information to support a safe and sustainable ocean industry in the broad North Atlantic."

Published in Marine Science
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#MARINE SCIENCE - Apart from some of the world's largest concentrations of wave energy, the waters of Galway Bay and the west coast of Ireland are now providing something potentially even more valuable - information.

That's according to IBM's Harry Kolar writing for the blog A Smarter Planet, as he discusses the start of his company's new underwater data collection project developed in association with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and the Marine Institute.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the system comprises an array of noise sensing equipment such as hydrophones deployed in Galway Bay to monitor the noise levels produced by wave energy conversion devices in real time.

This array is attached to a large monitoring buoy about 2km from the southern shore, and constantly transmits the data it records to a receiving system on land.

The scheme, which was finally switched on last month, is an offshoot of the SmartBay initiative for developing and testing new marine technology to foster future commercial development in the fast-growing marine science sector. The 'Twitter buoy' deployed for the Volvo Ocean Race finale recently is another of the project's schemes.

"Initially, the system will capture and analyse the ambient noise of the ocean to establish a baseline of acoustics including natural and anthropogenic (man-made) sound sources including vessel traffic," writes Kolar.

"But the ultimate goal is to capture and analyse the sounds and vibrations of hulking wave energy conversion machines that have begun bobbing along off the coast and help determine what, if any impact the sound waves from those devices could have on marine life – but especially highly sensitive dolphin, porpoise, and whale populations."

A Smarter Planet has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Science

#marinescience – Wavebob was recognised as one of Ireland's leading engineering and research companies today when they were awarded the SmartBay Innovator of the Year Award. Wavebob was recognised for innovation, engineering and leadership in the emerging wave energy market.

Four additional companies were also recognised for their contribution to innovation and research by leading International Companies. IBM presented an award to SonarSim Ltd; Intel presented an award to Episensor; Veolia presented to Techworks Marine Ltd.; and Microsoft presented an award to IDS Monitoring Ltd., all members of the SmartOcean innovation cluster.

Andrew Parish, CEO of Wavebob said, 'We are delighted to receive this award – it is great recognition from a cluster of companies all working together in the pursuit of commercial opportunities in the marine sector. We have benefited from being part of the SmartOcean innovation cluster through access to world class skill-sets and technology which co-exist in the SME and multinational companies in the cluster. This approach is directly in line with Wavebob's strategy of working with strategic partners."

The awards were announced following the Inaugural SmartOcean Innovation Exchange, as part of the SmartOcean Conference. Sponsored by SmartBay Ireland Ltd, the event was hosted at the Ocean Wealth Pavilion of the Volvo-Global Business Village.

The Innovation Exchange event was designed to support companies to profile their new technologies that address market opportunities in the global marine sector. In total, 22 Companies were recognised by SmartBay Ireland and received the SmartBay Innovator Award. A number of International companies also participated reinforcing the links between the SmartOcean Cluster and related Clusters in Europe and Canada.

Speaking at the event Mike Devane, Chairman of SmartBay Ireland Ltd., said 'This event demonstrates, in the most practical way, how collaboration within a Cluster can help smaller companies gain access to technology and markets through the support of leading Multi Nationals'.

Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO Marine Institute said "We are delighted to be involved in this event supporting small and medium business to develop innovative solutions for the marine sectors. It's great to see 22 Irish and International companies showcasing their innovations and working with multinationals and the research community to examine how we can use technology to make the most of our marine resources."

Published in Marine Science
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Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!

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