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The Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) of the Marine Institute and Innovate UK hosted a networking reception in Dublin on Monday (15 April) to advance their joint plans to create green shipping corridors between Ireland and the UK.

The event attracted maritime industry stakeholders who are interested in responding to this research call by constructing consortia which can drive progress in this important area of research.

The call is co-funded by the Marine Institute and the UK Department of Transport and will be delivered by the IMDO and Innovate UK.

Minister for Transport, Eamonn Ryan said: “My department welcomes the launch of the joint funding call from Marine Institute, the Irish Maritime Development Office and Innovate UK. This will produce detailed and valuable feasibility studies on green shipping corridors focused on routes across the Irish Sea, between Ireland and the UK.

“The Clydebank Declaration was launched at COP26 in 2021, with Ireland as one of the initial signatories of the initiative. Clydebank was designed to drive forward to the decarbonisation targets set by the International Maritime Organization in relations to green shipping. The launch of this funding call by Marine Institute and Innovate UK represents the first step towards meeting this ambition and demonstrates an innovative and collaborative approach to solving this issue, which I commend.”

Elin Burns, deputy British ambassador to Ireland, also welcomed the research call and said: “The UK and Ireland are delighted to collaborate together to tackle one of the greatest challenges of our time, climate change. The UK has ambitious net-zero targets, and transport continues to be a sector which contributes significantly to emissions.

“Green shipping corridors are key to demonstrating the development of technology, infrastructure and regulations to promote industry adoption of zero-emission technologies. The UK and Ireland’s partnership on this fund recognises our close maritime links across both trade and travel, and demonstrates our commitment to supporting green corridors between our countries.”

The call provides an opportunity for maritime industry stakeholders to consider how consortia might be formed to address the challenges of creating green shipping corridors across the Irish Sea. It also recognises the importance of trading and tourism links between Ireland and the UK and the imperative of reducing carbon emissions in the maritime industry.

Commenting at the launch, IMDO director Liam Lacey said: “We are pleased to be working with Innovate UK, supported by our respective Departments of Transport, on this joint research call that will bring green shipping corridors between Ireland and the UK closer to reality.

“The call is funded by the Marine Institute and UK Department of Transport to a value of €1m. It envisages the creation of consortia of ports, shipping companies and researchers and industry experts to undertake feasibility studies that will result in practical solutions being advanced that put shipping corridors between Ireland and the UK on a pathway to a greener future. This is an ambitious and valuable project that we expect to generate considerable industry interest and lots of innovative ideas.”

James Lovett, innovation lead for future maritime technologies at Innovate UK added: “Innovate UK is proud to be delivering this competition and is delighted to be working with the Marine Institute and the UK Department for Transport.

“These bilateral research collaborations are vital to make green shipping corridors a reality. The required technology and system developments cannot happen in isolation, which is why I’m pleased to see pioneering cooperation between the UK and Ireland. We’re looking forward to seeing the exciting research applications from UK-Ireland maritime industry consortia.”

Published in Ports & Shipping

US Ambassador to Ireland, Claire Cronin visited the Marine Institute’s national headquarters in Galway last Friday (8 April) to celebrated the strong ties in marine science and technology that exist between the two nations.

The visit provided an opportunity for Ambassador Cronin to tour the institute’s state-of-the-art facilities and gain insights into its scientific programmes and capabilities, including research vessel operations, ocean observation and seabed mapping, marine ecosystem monitoring, climate science and scientific services supporting development of a sustainable ocean economy.

In welcoming Ambassador Cronin, the Marine Institute’s director of policy, innovation and research services, Dr Niall McDonough emphasised the institute’s commitment to fostering international cooperation and knowledge exchange, to not only advance marine research and innovation goals but to address global marine challenges.

US Ambassador to Ireland, Claire Cronin learns more about the Marine Institute’s important marine science workUS Ambassador to Ireland, Claire Cronin learns more about the Marine Institute’s important marine science work

“As two nations with seaboards on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean, Ireland and the US share a deep commitment to exploring new frontiers of ocean science and sustainability,” Dr McDonough said.

“The connections between us have deepened substantially since the signing of the Galway Statement to establish the All-Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation Alliance in 2013. We now work together as part of a growing family of Atlantic nations that seek common solutions through scientific collaboration to harness the vast potential of the Atlantic Ocean whilst safeguarding it for future generations.”

Dr McDonough is also at the forefront of Okeano, a new cross-national support group for Atlantic Ocean research and innovation, as previously reported on

Published in Marine Science
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The Marine Institute’s director of policy, innovation and research services is leading a new cross-national support group for Atlantic Ocean research and innovation.

Through a large-scale basin effort, representatives of 16 organisations from 12 countries including Ireland have joined forces to establish the Okeano Coordination and Support Action (CSA).

Funded under Horizon Europe to support the All-Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation Alliance (AAORIA), Okeano “marks a significant milestone in the journey towards sustainable management of the Atlantic Ocean”.

Okeano follows its two successful predecessor CSAs, the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance and the All-Atlantic Cooperation for Ocean Research and innovation.

The main objective of Okeano is to provide coordination and support to the All-Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation Alliance, ensuring effective governance, cooperation and communication among signatories, across the Atlantic Ocean, from pole to pole.

Okeano aims to facilitate dialogue and cooperation at local, national, and international levels, to consolidate existing initiatives and to tackle socio-environmental issues in the Atlantic region, such as climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution, ecosystem protection and restoration, and sustainable and inclusive ocean economies.

Signed in 2022, the AAORIA Declaration builds on the foundations of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation and the Belém Statement on Atlantic Research and Innovation Cooperation.

Furthermore, its objectives align with the EU's priorities outlined in the European Mission Restore our Ocean and Waters by 2030, the partnership for a climate-neutral sustainable and productive blue economy, the European Green Deal, and international dimension of the EU Atlantic Action Plan.

With AAORIA’s motto being ‘Connecting-Cooperating-Acting’, Okeano will serve to scale and transition the alliance to a long-term, sustainable and highly impactful international partnership, capable of delivering transformative science and innovation, and concrete benefits for Atlantic communities.

The inaugural meeting of OKEANO was held on 7-8 March at the JPI Oceans Secretariat in Brussels, with representatives from Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Cabo Verde, France, Germany, Ireland, Morocco, Norway, Portugal, South Africa and Spain in attendance.

Participants at the inaugural meeting of OKEANO held on 7-8 March at the JPI Oceans Secretariat in BrusselsParticipants at the inaugural meeting of OKEANO held on 7-8 March at the JPI Oceans Secretariat in Brussels

The kick-off meeting, attended by project partners and representatives of the European Commission, focused on outlining detailed methodologies for achieving the project’s strategic objectives.

Dr Niall McDonough — director of policy, innovation and research services at the Marine Institute and coordinator of Okeano — chaired the meeting, with Dr John Bell, director of healthy planet at the European Commission outlining the vision for the next phase of the alliance.

Participants discussed the work plan for the CSA, emphasising inclusivity, international cooperation and active societal engagement. The importance of facilitating access to a diversity of relevant data, knowledge, expertise, capacities and resources was addressed, positioning Okeano as a pivotal point of contact to link scientists, researchers, public and private stakeholders, including civil society and youth.

“The Okeano project is ready to support and contribute to the goals of a growing and dynamic alliance,” Dr McDonough said. “Through its range of planned activities and strong international partnership, we are committed to reaching and empowering communities across the entirety of the Atlantic to respond to the complex challenges presented by issues such as climate change and ecosystem protection and restoration.”

Focus areas of Okeano include:

  • Enhancing governance and coordination — led by the Marine Institute (Ireland): Providing professional support and coordination for the All-Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation Alliance governance, organisation, monitoring and outreach activities.
  • Facilitating dialogue across stakeholders — led by the AIR Centre (Portugal): Fostering collaborations with different organisations, and facilitating structured dialogue and coordination at local, national, international and multilateral levels between AAORIA and relevant stakeholders.
  • Supporting and consolidating existing initiatives — led by IFREMER (France): Supporting and consolidating existing AAORIA initiatives, including capacity building for early-career ocean professionals (ECOPs) and youth to promote sustainability and community engagement along the Atlantic Ocean shores.
  • Development of a Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda — led by KDM (Germany): Developing an All-Atlantic Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda aligned with the priorities identified in the AAORIA Declaration to foster knowledge exchange, innovation, and benefit to local communities across the Atlantic.
  • Maximising impact through communication and outreach — led by JPI Oceans (Belgium): Maximising the impact of the Okeano CSA and supporting communication of AAORIA through effective dissemination, exploitation, and communication measures.
  • Co-design and implementation of All-Atlantic Fora — led by the Marine Institute (Ireland): Co-designing and implementing international All-Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation Fora to strengthen scientific cooperation and shared goals as outlined in the AAORIA Declaration.

Looking ahead, Okeano aims to foster a robust All-Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation community, promoting cooperation, innovation and sustainable development across the Atlantic basin. By leveraging the collective expertise and resources of its diverse consortium, Okeano believes it is poised to support AAORIA in continuing as a long-lasting and robust community.

Published in Marine Science

The Marine Institute has published its Year in Review 2023, a snapshot of some of the organisation’s many highlights during what it says was a busy and productive year.

Published on Wednesday (27 March), the 24-page document presents key achievements across the institute during the year, along with a selection of key figures, facts and photographs.

In 2023, the Marine Institute embarked upon the first year of its new corporate strategy, Ocean Knowledge that Informs and Inspires, which identifies eight strategic priorities for the next five years.

Other highlights presented in Year in Review 2023 include the continued scientific advice and services provided to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and other Government departments, agencies and stakeholders, including the public.

The institute says these services are essential to achieving a sustainable ocean economy, protecting and managing our marine ecosystems, and meeting EU obligations.

Some 6,409 square kilometres of seabed was mapped by the Marine Institute in 2023 as part of the INFOMAR programme, in partnership with Geological Survey Ireland. The RV Celtic Explorer and RV Tom Crean — the latter enjoying its first full year in service — completed 596 survey days in 2023.

Climate change continued to be an important focus area for the institute during the year, as it worked with climate stakeholders in defining the climate services they need for the marine domain, and continued its support for Ireland’s climate change research with a significant number of surveys and projects.

The Irish Ocean Climate & Ecosystem Status Report 2023 was a major publication during the past year, coordinated by the Ocean Climate and Information Services (OCIS) service area and with input from a wide range of Marine Institute and external audiences.

The organisation’s Research Funding Office administered €12.3 million in new research investments awarded under the Marine Research Programme during 2023. This included funding ship-time on the research vessels and remotely operated vehicle, and the funding of wide ranging and impactful research projects.

Throughout 2023, the Marine Institute carried out analysis and provided support on a wide range of topics affecting the fishing and aquaculture sectors, and delivered the annual Stock Book to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, providing the latest scientific advice on 74 Irish stocks exploited by the Irish fishing fleet.

The Shellfish Safety team provided support and advice to the competent authorities in Ireland and at a European level on microbiological and marine biotoxins food safety issues associated with bivalve shellfish. A wide range of testing was carried out, which ensures a high level of consumer confidence and protection, and supports the integrity, quality and reputation of Irish shellfish and its industry.

Last year was a challenging one for the shipping industry with traffic volumes across all maritime transport modes affected by the difficult economic environment. The Irish Maritime Development Office worked to address and overcome challenges for the maritime industry and to support the blue economy.

The institute’s commitment to being a sustainable organisation continued in 2023 with its first Climate Action Roadmap undergoing an annual review, and a number of key sustainability developments to reduce its carbon footprint and impact on the environment.

Other key events and initiatives during 2023 included partnering on the OCEANS 2023 conference; launching the INFOMAR Bluescale Map Series; supporting the implementation of marine environmental and spatial planning legislation; continuing the institute’s commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion; and celebrating 10 years of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation.

The Marine Institute also has three new board members, with the appointments announced yesterday by Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue, as previously reported on

Published in Marine Science

The Minister for Marine, Charlie McConalogue, has announced the appointment of Ms Pauline Cronin, Ms Kate Burns, and Prof. Tim McCarthy to the Board of the Marine Institute.

The Minister said they have each been appointed for a period of five years following a competitive selection process run by the Public Appointments Service (PAS).

Commenting on today’s announcement, Minister McConalogue said: "I am delighted to announce the appointments of Pauline, Kate, and Tim to the Board of the Marine Institute. I am confident their backgrounds and individual skill sets will bring a wealth of professional experience to the Board of the Marine Institute.

Dr Rick Officer, CEO of the Marine Institute said, “Last year the Marine Institute launched our new five-year corporate strategy, Ocean Knowledge that Informs and Inspires which sets out a roadmap to enable Ireland to deliver on national and EU policy goals on sustainable seafood production, ocean science and management, environment and biodiversity, maritime transport, offshore renewable energy and climate action. This makes it an exciting time to welcome Pauline, Kate and Tim to the board and their contributions to delivering the Institute’s strategic priorities along with the existing board members.”

Published in Marine Science
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The Marine Institute has launched an updated edition of the Explorers Education Programme’s Wild About Wildlife on the Seashore workbook, which has also been translated into Irish, and is being used as a key teaching resource for student teachers at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick.

All second-year B.Ed students and postgraduate Masters in Education (PME) students have completed an ocean literacy workshop, delivered by staff from the Explorers programme.

Specialist workshops were organised for third- and fourth-year students completing specialisms in primary geography and sustainability.

Lecturer Dr Anne Dolan congratulated the Explorers team on their dedication to produce new fit-for-purpose teaching resources for educators, teachers and children.

“Working with Cushla Dromgool-Regan and Dr Nóirín Burke of the Explorers programme for nearly five years now has been an important element of encouraging student teachers to include marine biodiversity in their lesson plans,” Dr Dolan said. “The marine-themed resources can be used for cross-curricular teaching and to help teachers easily integrate and forge new experiences in and outside the classroom.

“The workshops held at Mary Immaculate College also inspire and engage student teachers to learn about our local environments and marine species, and are key to helping promote rich, flexible, creative learner-centred environments.”

With the new Primary School Curriculum Framework (2023) now introduced into schools, teachers have the responsibility to provide children with the skills they need for communication and critical decision-making.

Subjects taught as part of social and environmental education, STEM, the arts and languages all provide opportunities for children to develop their skills, and to make informed decisions about how to mitigate climate change and ocean pollution, and to protect our natural biodiversity.

These resources are freely available to download from Included are short films, posters and workbooks, art templates, species profiles and presentations for teachers and children to use in the classroom.

“We are so lucky to be working in collaboration with Dr Anne Dolan and Dr Jennifer Liston who are both recognised leaders in education,” said Dr Noirin Burke, Explorers delivery and team manager. “Promoting creative and flexible approaches to bringing the ocean into the classroom and across school content, is key to ensuring we create positive changes to protecting and using our marine resources in a sustainable way.”

The programme is funded by the Marine Institute, the State agency for marine research and development, and is managed by Camden Education and Galway Atlantaquaria.

Published in Marine Science

Good news – there is a sustained trend towards improvement in fish stocks in Irish waters, the Marine Institute’s new chief executive, Dr Rick Officer says.

Speaking to Wavelengths, he says “huge credit” is due to Irish fishers for weathering hard decisions taken some time ago, which have paid off with this increased sustainability.

It’s a trend, he emphasises, and it dates back to 2012. “There is no incentive for fishers to destroy the resource that they rely on,” he pointed out.

In his interview, Dr Officer, who has come from a senior post at the Atlantic Technological University, discussed whether responsibility for marine leisure should return to the institute.

He also spoke about the “spatial squeeze” posed by offshore wind farms and designation of marine protected areas, and climate change impacts.

As an “Aussie”, he says the size of Ireland’s offshore area makes for more of an “opportunity” than a problem in relation to sharing that space.

The institute is “well positioned to be the trusted advisor of data that supports good decision-making”, he says.

Listen to his interview with Wavelengths below

Published in Wavelength Podcast

The Marine Institute has announced that it will lead a major €14.5m Europe-wide project called Aquatic Research Infrastructure Services for the health and protection of our unique oceans, seas, and freshwater ecosystems (AQUARIUS). This 48-month project aims to provide free access to state-of-the-art research facilities across Europe to enable collaborative marine and freshwater research.

AQUARIUS will provide a comprehensive suite of integrated research infrastructures to address significant challenges for the long-term sustainability of oceans, seas, and freshwater ecosystems. This project will bring together a diverse range of 57 research infrastructure services such as research vessels, mobile marine observation platforms, aircraft, drones, satellite, sensors, fixed freshwater and marine observatories and test sites, experimental facilities, and sophisticated data service infrastructures.

For the first time, diverse research infrastructures will be combined in a single project to facilitate the work of researchers and key stakeholders focused on challenges and opportunities for both marine and freshwater systems. All data collected within the project will be fed into central European data infrastructures to inform future policy and decision making at a European and national level.

The project will include training for third-level students, and it will support the development phase of the EU Mission to Restore our Ocean and waters by 2030, the Sustainable Blue Economy Partnership, the European Green Deal, and international climate initiatives. It will also be an essential component in achieving the European Digital Twin of the Ocean and the UN Decade for Ocean Sciences.

The AQUARIUS project, funded under the HORIZON Europe Research & Innovation Action call for access to research infrastructures, will provide funded access to Marine Institute infrastructures free of charge to European and international researchers. It will also provide the opportunity for national researchers to access other European state-of-the-art technologically advanced infrastructure facilities, thus broadening the knowledge and skill set across disciplines.

According to Dr. Rick Officer, CEO of the Marine Institute, leading this pan-European program puts the Marine Institute and Ireland in a leadership role in the research infrastructure sector in Europe. Such collaborative research initiatives are vital to enable researchers to gather data, which can inform policy and decision-making and contribute to international marine management, conservation, and policy.

The AQUARIUS project provides the ideal platform from which the Marine Institute can invest in and optimize its infrastructure, including vessels, laboratories, and other facilities and equipment, to improve the way it does its work and provide the national and international research community with access to state-of-the-art, technologically advanced infrastructure.

Aodhán Fitzgerald, Research Vessel Operations Manager at the Marine Institute and AQUARIUS Project Coordinator, said that the project would enable access to an unprecedented number and combination of research infrastructures. With a fleet of 18 state-of-the-art research vessels, aircraft and drones, as well as mobile and fixed operational platforms, this is an extremely exciting project for European and international marine and freshwater researchers as they now have opportunities to work together to access integrated infrastructures in the Baltic and the North Sea Basins, Black Sea, Atlantic/Arctic, and Mediterranean Sea along with their associated rivers.

The needs of researchers will be met through a robust and transparent system of transnational access funding calls, facilitated by a centralized user-friendly access portal. The Call program will be informed through stakeholder engagement and brokerage events aligning with the EU Mission Restore our Ocean and Waters by 2030 Lighthouse Regions. AQUARIUS invites collaboration and engagement from researchers, industrial communities, citizen science groups, and SMEs through a highly focused outreach programme.

Published in Marine Science
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The Marine Institute welcomed Mari Skåre, the Norwegian Ambassador to Ireland, on an official visit to the Marine Institute’s headquarters in Galway on Tuesday (5 March).

Commenting on the visit, Dr Rick Officer, chief executive of the Marine Institute said: “We are delighted to welcome H.E. Ambassador Skåre to the Marine Institute. Ireland and Norway have long shared a commitment to marine research and development. Today’s visit provides an opportunity to reflect on the progress we’ve made on collaborative projects under Horizon Europe, and an opportunity to look to the future and new areas for further cooperation.”

International cooperation is essential to developing knowledge of the Atlantic Ocean, its dynamic systems and its interlinkages with the Arctic region. Such collaboration is both necessary and urgent as society adapts to climate and environmental changes taking place around the world, the institute says.

Ireland already collaborates with Norway on over 50 marine and maritime projects through Horizon Europe and collaborative networks such as the Joint Programming Initiative for Healthy and Productive Seas and Oceans (JPI Oceans) and the Sustainable Blue Economy Partnership.

These research projects range thematically from biodiversity to marine ecosystem services, marine pollution, circular economy, blue carbon, coastal resilience, citizen engagement projects, maritime navigation and important cooperation on marine research infrastructure projects.

Ambassador Skåre and Dr Officer also discussed the implementation of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030), a global initiative to stimulate ocean science and knowledge generation that can reverse declines in the state of the ocean system while catalysing new opportunities for sustainable ocean use.

Dr Officer added: “From our shared Atlantic coastlines, to our rich maritime histories, Ireland and Norway share a profound commitment to advancing marine research and sustainable development. A more resilient and prosperous maritime future will be to the betterment of both nations and the global marine ecosystem, as a whole.

“From exploring sustainable fisheries to studying oceanography and climate change impacts, both of our nations remain dedicated to understanding and protecting our oceans for future generations.”

Published in Marine Science
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A major new European project aims to improve our understanding of how the bycatch of fisheries impacts protected, endangered and threatened species (PETS) in the Atlantic Ocean, and develop methods for better monitoring and mitigating these impacts.

Funded by the European Union’s Horizon Europe programme, Marine Beacon (Monitoring and elimination of bycatch of endangered and conserved species in the NE and high seas Atlantic region) will address gaps in current understanding of how bycatch impacts PETS.

It will also work with fisheries, policy and conservation stakeholders to develop and test innovative tools and techniques for better monitoring of important species and mitigating risks of bycatch, to ensure healthier seas and more sustainable fisheries.

Bycatch — the unintentional capture of non-target marine wildlife during fishing — is recognised as a major threat to marine species globally, particularly marine mammals, seabirds, turtles and sensitive fish species, as well as the ecosystems that rely on these creatures.

Yet monitoring of these species and their interactions with fishing in such a dynamic and challenging environment has often been ineffective.

Advancements in bycatch mitigation and elimination have lagged behind the urgency of the issue, with many proposed solutions failing to adequately take into account the differing realities of diverse fisheries and lacking sufficient input from relevant industry and policy stakeholders.

In order to address the issue of biodiversity decline in our Atlantic regions and help the recovery of these ecosystems and their services, Marine Beacon brings together 21 research, technology, and fisheries partners from nine countries.

Together they will work across our regional seas to identify significant gaps in our monitoring and understanding of bycatch, and to introduce innovative knowledge and tools to better understand bycatch risk and vulnerability.

By inclusively collaborating with key stakeholders in the fisheries, policy and conservation sectors, Marine Beacon aims to ensure that new, cutting-edge monitoring and mitigation tools are effective and feasible, providing long-term applicability and impact beyond the lifetime of the project.

The project has six key objectives:

  • Engage with key stakeholder groups to build mutual understanding on how to effectively mitigate against the bycatch of PETS.
  • Improve our knowledge of how PETS intersect with bycatch and identify how improved survey and monitoring design can fill gaps in data.
  • Evaluate the specific risk posed by fisheries bycatch to the vulnerability status of PETS.
  • Advance next generation monitoring solutions, design optimal monitoring programmes and accelerate EU monitoring programmes to better achieve EU biodiversity strategy 2030 targets for eliminating or reducing PETS bycatch.
  • Develop state of the art mitigation solutions that reduce bycatch and where possible eliminate associated mortalities.
  • Create integrated bycatch management decision support tools to help Member States’ respective management programmes achieve their objectives.

Marine Beacon was launched on Wednesday 21 February and will run for four-and-a-half years. It is coordinated by Ireland’s Marine Institute and comprises an expert team from Belgium, Denmark, France, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and the UK. For more information, follow on LinkedIn and X (formerly Twitter) at @MarineBEACON_EU.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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