Displaying items by tag: North East Atlantic
#deepsea – An international research team, led by scientists from NUI Galway, is currently exploring the Whittard Canyon deep-sea submarine canyon system in the North East Atlantic onboard the Marine Institute's RV Celtic Explorer.
Researchers from Ireland, the UK, the USA and Germany are using the Institute's ROV Holland I to study the diversity of deep-water animals and relate this to geology and ocean currents.
The Whittard Canyon system is at the continental margin approximately 250 miles SW of Cork, covers an area of 2000 square miles, and is home to vulnerable marine ecosystems of cold-water corals, deep-water oysters and file clams. But new research is also revealing a remarkable diversity and abundance of rare black corals, which are protected under international legislation.
"The extreme shape of submarine canyons seems to affect the water flow within them in such a way as to deliver nutrient rich waters to particular parts of the canyon system. This allows diverse ecosystems to flourish. Our research is attempting to understand these processes so that we can predict where the most vulnerable ecosystems are likely to occur and therefore ensure the environment is protected," explained Dr Martin White of NUI Galway's Ryan Institute, and the expedition's chief scientist.
According to Dr Louise Allcock, also of NUI Galway's Ryan Institute, "Black corals are particularly vulnerable to any sort of impact. They grow extremely slowly and dating studies have shown that some species live for thousands of years."
The Whittard Canyon system is huge, with meandering branches extending over an area of more than 80 by 20 miles. Mapping the system, much of which is in depths below 1500m, to detect vulnerable species is difficult. Therefore the team hopes that the new data will reveal the factors that determine which species occur where.
ROV Holland I provides a way of sampling deep-sea animals without impacting the ecosystem. The team is also providing deep-sea sponge samples to scientists searching for novel pharmaceutical compounds. If the chemists find interesting compounds such as antibacterial and other pharmaceutical properties in the sponges, they will aim to work out how to synthesize them in the laboratory. This is the first step in the production of new drugs.
The scientists are blogging about their experiences and discoveries aboard RV Celtic Explorer throughout the survey (June 6th – 21st) on the blog scientistsatsea.blogspot.ie and on twitter via the hashtag #ce14009
The research survey is carried out under the Sea Change strategy with the support of the Marine Institute, funded under the Marine Research Sub-Programme by the Irish Government.
Minister Connick said "I want to see a fair deal to resolve this issue and secure the future for our fishermen and fish factories. However, I made it clear that I will not accept a deal at any price."
Currently Iceland and the Faroe Islands are acting unilaterally and outside of normal fishery management protocols and their actions pose a serious threat to the well being of the mackerel stock which economically, is Ireland's most important stock. The item was placed on today's agenda in advance of the intensive negotiations on mackerel management due to commence in October and as a follow up to the June Council where Ireland lead the debate.
Minister Connick reiterated his dismay at the continuing irresponsible fishing by Iceland and the Faroes on the mackerel stock, and his desire to see a resolution to the situation. So far in 2010, Iceland has caught about 115,000 tonnes which is more than 25 times their catch four years ago. In the case of the Faroes, their 85,000 tonnes is more than 3 times their catch in 2006. Ireland's quota in 2010 is 62,000 tonnes.
The Minister said "Ireland has consistently supported the need to reach an international agreement on mackerel management. However we can only accept an agreement that is fair and proportionate. We consider that the current fishing levels by Iceland and the Faroes are totally unjustified and that any eventual agreement must involve much reduced levels of fishing by these countries. We must robustly put our case and minimise the final cost to our fishermen."
The long term stability of the lucrative mackerel stock is of paramount importance to Ireland and in urging for increased intensification of efforts to reach a solution the Minister advised the Council that "It is my opinion that a joint approach with Norway, considering our long term agreement with them, would have added weight and would be more likely to succeed".
Minister Connick said, "I was heartened by the widespread support of my EU colleagues for the concerns that I first raised on this issue at the June Council".
There will be intensive negotiations over the autumn and the Minister committed that Ireland would work closely with other Member States and the Commission to consider all options to make progress and find a basis for a long term agreement. The Minister emphasised the critical importance of securing fair and equitable arrangements at international level that will deliver a sustainable mackerel fishery for the Irish fleet and ensure the continued prosperity of the seafood processing sector in coastal communities.