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Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D., has earmarked the purchase of a new marine research vessel for the State in his Department's 2021 Budget.

As Afloat previously reported, €25m was allocated in Tuesday's budget to progress the construction of the vessel.

In making the announcement Minister McConalogue said: "The budget provision will allow the Marine Institute to progress construction on the replacement of the 21-year-old Celtic Voyager with a new 54m modern research vessel that will provide critical national infrastructure to enable Ireland to address the considerable challenges of Brexit and the Common Fisheries Policy as well as climate-induced impacts on our oceans."

Celtic VoyagerCeltic Voyager - 21 years old and in need of replacement Photo: Bob Bateman

Welcoming the news Dr Paul Connolly, CEO Marine Institute said: "The Marine Institute is delighted that work can continue on the replacement for the Celtic Voyager. This new vessel will enable Ireland to develop the best scientific advice possible to maximise economic opportunities for our coastal industries and communities and ensure a sustainable resource for them".

The construction of the new national research vessel will continue in 2021 with the build process expected to be completed in summer 2022. Spanish shipyard Astilleros Armon Vigo S.A. were awarded the contract to build the new marine research vessel for Ireland last year, following an extensive EU tender process.

Set to be one of the most advanced marine research vessels in the world, Ireland's new marine research vessel will enable Ireland to undertake critical research work to deepen our understanding of our oceans and our natural resources.

The new vessel will be able to go to sea for at least 21 days at a time and will be designed to operate in harsh sea conditions. Based in Galway, the vessel will be used by the Marine Institute, other State agencies and universities to undertake fisheries research, oceanographic and environmental research, seabed mapping and other multidisciplinary surveys. It will also maintain and deploy weather buoys, observational infrastructure and our Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV Holland I).

The new vessel will be a sister ship to the State's largest research ship, the 65m RV Celtic Explorer and will replace the RV Celtic Voyager. The two Marine Institute research vessels currently in operation (RV Celtic Explorer and RV Celtic Voyager) are among the most intensively used research vessels in the world. The Marine Institute's RV Celtic Voyager is Ireland's first purpose built research vessel. It has been utilised heavily since its delivery 21 years ago and has been vital in providing marine scientists, researchers and its crew members, with many years of valued experience at sea, expanding and strengthening marine science in Ireland to help inform decisions affecting our ocean.

According to Dr Connolly, "The significantly enhanced capabilities of the vessel will help our researchers, educators, students and the public gain a deeper understanding of the ocean. Most importantly it will facilitate work that will support many of the projects outlined in the Programme for Government including fisheries assessment, offshore renewable energy, marine spatial planning, marine protected areas and research in the area of blue carbon."

Capital funding of €1.5m has also been allocated to the Marine Institute in Budget 2021, and funding for national research investment in marine-related activities will align with the Programme for Government and the needs of decision-makers.

Speaking about the additional funding announced in Budget 2021 Dr Connolly, said that "Research investments will add value to the core services provided by the Marine Institute to their national and international clients, including the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. This new research data and knowledge will strengthen our scientific and technical advice to better inform decision-making on the sustainable management of our ocean and seas".

In 2021, the Marine Institute plans to fund a call for a large-scale project for researchers to investigate the potential for carbon storage and sequestration in Irish waters. This was highlighted as an important priority area for the Marine Institute in the Programme for Government. The work will examine a range of potential carbon storage alternatives such as algal absorption, seagrass forestry, deep-sea sinks, seabed layering and shellfish farming.

In welcoming the research expenditure allocations announced in Budget 2021, The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Martin Heydon, T.D. said that "If we are going to continue to deliver efficiency and sustainability in the years ahead, innovation will be critical". The Minister also pointed out that the combined investment in Research and Innovation by the Department, Teagasc and the Marine Institute is now over €60m annually.

Published in Marine Science

The Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) has called on Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue and Minister of State for Biodiversity Pippa Hackett to “act swiftly” over a High Court decision that overturns a ban on fishing by vessels over 18 metres long inside the six nautical mile limit.

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has also called for a scientific study of species including sprat stocks in inshore waters.

A High Court judgment published last week found that the ban on trawling or fishing within seine nets by vessels over 18 metres in length inside the six-mile nautical limit has “no legal effect”.

Mr Justice Michael McGrath issued his judgment on foot of a judicial review of the ban which was introduced by former marine minister Michael Creed in March 2019.

The judicial review of the policy directive was taken by fishermen Tom Kennedy and Neil Minihane.

IWT campaign officer Pádraic Fogarty said that the original ban was initiated “after a public consultation in 2018 which was roundly supported by low-impact fishers in smaller boats, anglers, environmental groups and members of the public”.

“It was heralded at the time as the single most important move to protect fisheries and marine biodiversity that we have seen. There is consequently widespread anger and dismay that this has now been undone,” Mr Fogarty said in a statement.

“We’re urging ministers Hackett and McConalogue to act swiftly on this High Court decision and to tell us how the trawling ban can be reinstated on a permanent basis,” he said.

“ Until then we need to see all inshore trawling shut down so that any recovery in marine life which may have been underway is not completely undone,” Mr Fogarty said.

The IWT says that trawling for small fish such as sprat “removes the principle food source for sea life, whether its whales, dolphins or larger fish”.

“Bottom trawling, which scrapes a net across the seafloor, obliterates important habitats for fish spawning and should be phased out across our seas,” it says.

IWDG co-ordinator Dr Simon Berrow said that while he did not want to comment directly on the judgment, it was time for a “proper, robust scientific study” on sprat stocks.

“We know so little about sprat,” Dr Berrow told RTÉ Radio 1’s Seascapes on Friday night, pointing out how important the species is for whales.

The six-mile ban for larger vessels was introduced by Minister Michael Creed on 5th March 2019, and came into force on January 1st of this year.

The directive did give a derogation for fishing sprat within six nautical miles up to December 2021, “subject to any catch limits as may be determined by the minister from time to time”.

The Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation (ISWFPO) has welcomed the judgment. Its chief executive Patrick Murphy said that “once again, we see flawed legislation being overturned in our High Court “.

“The view of IS&WFPO members remains that only a small proportion of fishing boats in our tiny Irish fishing fleet of 165 vessels of over 18 meters in length actually fish inside of the six-mile limit,” he said.

Mr Murphy concurred with the IWDG in calling for a scientific evaluation to calculate the biomass of all commercial stocks within the six-mile zone.

“Until this assessment is complete, we submit that no total allowable quota figure should be set for this important fishery,” he said.

Published in Marine Wildlife

The waters off the south coast of Ireland have been selected as the study location for Ireland’s first real-time acoustic monitoring project of large whales, with the aim to relay warning alerts to maritime traffic to reduce the risk of disturbance and ship strikes.

The Automated Cetacean Acoustics Project (ACAP) is being undertaken by Ocean Research & Conservation Ireland, a “for-impact” non-profit organisation based in Cork, in partnership with the Rainforest Connection and supported by Huawei Ireland.

Huawei Ireland is providing a research grant with technological support through its global TECH4ALL initiative. TECH4ALL is Huawei’s digital inclusion initiative, using technology, applications and skills to empower people and organisations everywhere.

90% of Ireland’s international trade travels by sea, with the South Coast of Ireland one of the busiest heavy ship shipping lanes in the world. Thousands of large container ships pass through it from Eastern Canada to Liverpool and other European ports annually, as well as additional pleasure boats, speed crafts and eco-tour operators.

The South Coast is also an important foraging, resting and reproductive habitat for 25 cetacean species (whales, dolphins and porpoise) and particularly for large Humpback, Fin and Minke whales. Heavy ship traffic places whales at an increased risk of ship strikes causing injury or even death, and also raises the ambient noise pollution affecting all the species present.

The new study will see the deployment of acoustic monitoring equipment in the Celtic Sea at locations where sightings of whales and other wildlife have been recorded. The equipment will be able to listen for movements of whales, and with the help of machine learning models to enhance data analysis, for the first time provide near real-time detection. This will provide multiple benefits - helping with the identifying and classification of species in Irish waters, their distribution and behaviour, and most importantly, the development of an early warning system that will enable ships to reduce their speed in time to lessen the considerable risk of ship strikes.

The project will see Ireland leading the way in the advancement of policy and programmes that respect and protect marine wildlife informed by near real-time data available for the first time, with the help of Rainforest Connection and Huawei Ireland. Not only will the detections be able to help inform policy and decision-makers in the establishment and management of potential marine protected areas (MPA’s), they will also be used for education and made available to the wider public to hear the symphony of cetacean sounds.

Commenting, lead researcher Emer Keaveney, Marine Mammal Ecologist, Ocean Research & Conservation Ireland said: “Recent advances in technology provide increasing opportunity to use these innovations for good and to enhance our understanding of the natural world. This is such an exciting time as now we have a chance to peer inside the secret world of whales in Irish waters, and directly improve their welfare and conservation”.

“We are a voluntary organisation that relies heavily on third party and private assistance, so we are delighted to have this opportunity to work with Huawei Ireland.”

Emer Keaveney will discuss the project via livestream as part of the annual Huawei Connect summit, which takes place in Shanghai and online between 23rd - 26th September. Emer Keaveney is the only Irish speaker at the summit, which focuses on AI, 5G and digital innovation.

Commenting on the announcement, Tony Yangxu, CEO Huawei Ireland said: “Huawei has been a trusted partner for over 16 years in Ireland, and we are excited to be supporting Ocean Conservation & Research Ireland as our very first fully funded TECH4ALL initiative in Ireland.”

“Huawei believes that no one should be left behind in the digital world and we have made it our mission to put digital inclusion front and centre of our business. Our TECH4ALL programme centers on developing digital inclusion and empowerment initiatives with measureable outcomes. One of its many purposes is to help accelerate the UN’s SDGs and we hope that this project with ORC Ireland can contribute to that.”

Published in Marine Science

Ireland should have 75 per cent of its land territory mapped this year, according to the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI).

A low-flying aircraft will gather geophysical date over counties Laois, Tipperary, Kilkenny and Waterford, and neighbouring parts of Offaly, Cork, Carlow and Kildare from September until the end of the year, weather permitting, the GSI says.

Based at Waterford airport, the survey plane will be flying at 60 metres over rural areas – about eight times the height of a two-storey house – and 240 metres over urban areas in the coming months, as approved by the Irish Aviation Authority.

The GSI is already involved in seabed mapping with the Marine Institute under the INFOMAR programme, and the Tellus Survey has been conducted on land over the last nine years.

Tellus collects geochemical and geophysical data on rocks, soil and water across Ireland. It involves airborne physical surveying using a low-flying aircraft, and ground-based geochemical surveying of soil, stream water and stream sediment.

It is currently funded under Project2040 - the National Development Plan – by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

The department says it has “the potential to deliver positive economic, environmental and agricultural benefits by helping to assist in local environment understanding, soil management, and natural resource potential for these counties”.

Tellus project manager and senior geologist Dr James Hodgson describes it as “an important national project, providing valuable insights into the geological makeup of Ireland”.

“The data collected from the Tellus Survey helps us to sustainably manage our environment and natural resources as well as protecting public health,” he said.

The survey aircraft is a white, twin-propeller plane (as pictured), which is easily identified by its red tail and black stripe as well as the word ‘SURVEY’ and registration number C-GSGF written across both sides of the plane.

Data collected throughout the Tellus project is published and made freely available to all on the Tellus website (www.tellus.ie).

Published in Marine Science
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When Dr Kathy Sullivan (68) climbed out of a tiny submersible which had returned from the bottom of the Mariana Trench, none of the subsequent headlines were quite as clever as that “most vertical girl in the world” slogan coined by several of her friends.

It inspired a badge which she now wears -the first female US astronaut to walk in space and to reach the deepest known point of the world’s oceans has a sharp sense of humour. Some might say with her Irish lineage that she’d have to have – she has cousins on beautiful Beara peninsula.

Former Marine Institute chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan wisely developed that link through initiatives like the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance when Dr Sullivan was US Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association Administrator (NOAA).

Dr Sullivan - an oceanographer and geologist - joins that panoply of individuals with Irish connections who have distinguished themselves over many centuries in the marine sphere, be it in fishing or trade, or in foreign navies, in exploration, or in technology and innovation.

Kathy Sullivan is the first person to ever experience travelling to both space and the ocean's floor Kathy Sullivan is the first person to ever experience travelling to both space and the ocean's floor Photo: NASA

The lives of many of these mostly male marine pioneers - from St Brendan to submarine designer John Philip Holland and explorers Sir Ernest Shackleton and Edward Bransfield - have been documented by late maritime historian Dr John de Courcy Ireland among others. He was often asked by colleagues at international conferences to explain why so many Irish mariners of note had to go abroad to make their name.

These academics were curious to know why there was not much more lasting “Viking influence” in Irish socio-economic activity, given that Ireland’s coastal state population was not dissimilar in size to that of Norway. The “real map of Ireland” is at least ten times the land size - as that clever Marine Institute postcard image depicts - and our Continental Shelf position on a northerly latitude is tempered by the influence of the Gulf Stream

The impact of colonisation, including deliberate efforts to suppress the Irish fishing fleet when it became too competitive, were among reasons given by Dr de Courcy Ireland during a debate on this question at a conference on “Ireland the Sea”. It was hosted by the Merriman Summer School and Bord Iascaigh Mhara in Co Clare back in 1983.

I came across the paperback record of that debate, and it was welcome distraction during a brief “Covid-19 lockdown” office tidy. Conference participant and founding Irish Skipper editor Arthur Reynolds pointed to the uneconomic reality of 900 different landing points around the coast. The fertility of this island’s soil always made agriculture a more attractive bet, he said.

Labour Party politician Justin Keating, a vet and RTÉ Head of Agricultural Programmes, posed a more complex answer. During his time as industry and commerce minister almost a decade earlier, he had attempted to set up a “Statoil” model for hydrocarbon development here. He noted that the sea provided this State with “almost an embarrassment of riches, and a superb national challenge”.

“The fact that this potential had not been realised was not due to “genetics” or “laziness”, but due in part to economics and the “horrendously expensive” costs of certain maritime development, Keating said. However, there was also a confidence factor, he argued; we were only beginning to recover from a “profound culture shock” which was “not unique to us”.

The colonial experience had touched “everywhere in the world where people were defeated by newer and superior technology, from South-East Asia to the homelands of the North American Indians,” Keating said. He outlined one First Nation response to this shock - the “ghost dance”, and suggested the Irish version of this was our “fascination with words and music.... based on their use in a magic sense, for altering consciousness and for making reality go away....”.

Magic being illusionary, the only possible “national therapy” was development of our marine potential, in his view. Without mobilisation of capital – which had fled these shores over previous centuries – we would not “mobilise technology”, he said.

That same year, a marine management system which has had devastating results for coastal states like this one was rubberstamped. Just two EU states – Ireland and Denmark - had a surplus of fish at the time of Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) formulation.

The CFP is subject to ten-yearly reviews, which now place much greater emphasis on sustainability. Brexit creates a really serious challenge, as industry organisations have outlined, yet there seems to be a reluctance here to seek a more equitable revision of the policy, based on proximity to a resource.

As the late Castletownbere fishermen and industry leader Donal O’Driscoll pointed out, the initial deal struck in favour of agricultural benefits and structural funds was never intended by our EU masters to be “cast in stone”.

EU directives on the environment have had a more positive influence, though sometimes failing to protect communities from the pressures of the market. A template for democratic planning published by the British Institution of Civil Engineers four years ago cited this State’s handling of the Corrib gas project as an example of “how not to undertake a development”.

The methodology known as Global Risk and Strategic Assessment Planning (GRASP) developed by British chartered surveyor Michael Ocock, organisational psychologist Prof Agi Oldfield and colleagues aims to avoid selective consultation or a domination of debates by “rogue stakeholders” and the “space shuttle syndrome” identified in large scale projects which have taken a wrong turn. Scottish islanders have also taught us that sustainability is not about ticking consultation boxes, but about genuine stakeholder engagement and community return.

Growing of seaweedGrowing of seaweed

Like the tide coming in and out twice a day, the sea still throws up endless opportunities for change – seaweed culture as one example, which the late British scientist Dr Eric Edwards once forecast would be far more lucrative for Ireland than salmon farming. Fascinating work by the Bantry Marine Research Station in west Cork is exploring how a type of red seaweed could also reduce methane emissions in cattle – a valuable case, if realised, of “blue meets green”.

Explorations off the Cork Coast could see Ireland's first floating offshore wind farmExplorations off the Cork Coast could see Ireland's first floating offshore wind farm

That active Atlantic system which could turn Ireland into a “Green gulf” of renewable energy, in the words of one developer, could fuel home energy needs and bulk hydrogen exports. The 30-year strategy drawn up by the Eirwind consortium involving University College, Cork researchers Dr Val Cummins (now gone into private practice) and Dr Jimmy Murphy and industry cites the importance of prioritising the long-awaited marine planning framework and supporting legislation.

The reports by NUI Galway’s Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit which inform the government’s Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth strategy show a positive trend. It recently reported on the opportunities which coastal tourism could offer during this pandemic.

coastal tourism studyTotal expenditure by domestic tourists in coastal areas was estimated to be €698 million in 2018, which represents 35% of the total expenditure by domestic tourists that year, a new study says.

Complementing the research in third-level institutions and the efforts of the Marine Institute and BIM, there are also a plethora of individuals and non-governmental organisations who have helped to raise awareness of our maritime heritage and of our potential on the Atlantic margin.

Like Dr Sullivan, there are many women involved in the forefront of marine research, development, innovation, along with master mariners, harbourmasters, sailors like Olympic medallist Annalise Murphy and offshore yachtswoman Joan Mulloy. Yvonne Shields O’Connor, formerly of the Marine Institute, is chief executive of the Commissioners of Irish Lights, and Ireland’s first female master marine Capt Sinead Reen is in a senior role at the National Maritime College of Ireland.

And Irish people no longer have to leave to have an impact in that big blue field. Marine Institute chief executive Dr Paul Connolly has been at the helm of the prestigious International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES), and his predecessor, Dr Heffernan, is one of 15 experts on the European Commission’s Mission Board for Healthy Oceans, Seas, Coastal and Inland Waters. And the unthinkable happened in 2015 when a former Naval Service flag officer, now Vice-Admiral Mark Mellett, became head of the Defence Forces.

Vice-Admiral Mark Mellett, head of the Defence ForcesVice-Admiral Mark Mellett, head of the Defence Forces

A global pandemic can focus attention on the potential of the ocean environment and the rich waters around this island - as a vital source of protein, new medical treatments and a source of renewable energy. However, a pandemic might also distract attention from its fragility, and the fact that man-made rubbish has reached the remote Mariana Trench and microplastics are poisoning the deepest ocean creatures.

Plastic at the bottom of Mariana TrenchPlastic at the bottom of Mariana Trench Source: Sustainability Times

“We have taken for granted the fact that we have been fortunate to live in the Goldilocks zone – that sweet spot in relation to the Sun,” Dr Sullivan told me in a recent interview.

Ireland is in the sweetest “Goldilocks zone” when it comes to marine resources. We must be ready to manage that good fortune sensitively, and for both communities and individuals, when the gold rush comes.

Published in Marine Science
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US astronaut and oceanographer Dr Kathryn Sullivan has compared the current global situation to being in the midst of a severe storm on a sailing boat in mid-ocean.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Dr Sullivan, who has Irish roots, said that although she was an optimist, it was “the most uncertain time I have witnessed in my lifetime”.

“You couldn’t even think of putting a sail back up, let alone trimming it, or trying to steer..only to ride it out as best one can...” she said.

“ It’s a bit like watching the circus performer twirling plates on the end of a stick, relying on gyroscopic forces – but if the twirling slows down any, the plates start to wobble like crazy,” she said

A global pandemic can focus attention on the potential of the ocean environment as a vital source of protein and new medical treatments, she notes.

However, she cautions that the oceans are under considerable pressure, thanks to “we two-footed critters” allowing rubbish to reach the very bottom of the remote Mariana Trench and microplastics to poison the deepest ocean creatures.

“So there is no part of this planet that is disconnected,” she says.

Dr Sullivan, who developed close links with the Marine Institute here during her term as US Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association Administrator (NOAA), has been invited by the institute to give a public “virtual” interview.

Read more of The Sunday Times interview here.

Published in Marine Science

The Most Vertical Girl in the World. The woman who's made history in sea and space; The astronaut, oceanographer, explorer, author and the first person to ever experience travelling to both deep space and the oceans deep.

Kathy Sullivan is already in the history books as the first American woman to walk in space in 1984, the 68-year-old found herself making history again just last month.

On June 6, the oceanographer and former NASA astronaut became the first woman to reach Challenger Deep, the deepest known location in the ocean.

The 35,810-foot dive, which was undertaken on the DSV Limiting Factor and co-piloted by Victor Vescovo, now makes Sullivan the first person to both walk-in space and descend to the deepest point in the ocean.

The two missions, total opposites in the minds of many, for Sullivan, come from her one simple desire: to understand the world around her as much as possible.

Join Kathy Sullivan in an exclusive Irish Interview with broadcaster Pat Kenny where she will share her remarkable history-making story, offering unique insights into her exploration at the extreme frontiers, recalling the experiences of walking in space and charting oceans.

You can tune into the Kathy Sullivan in Conversation Livestream on any one of the Marine Institute's social media channels on Thursday, 23 July at 2 pm IST  and read Lorna Siggins' interview with Sullivan in The Sunday Times, this week, July 19th.

 

 

Published in Marine Science

The Marine Institute says that its fish health inspection and monitoring activities in 2018 and 2019 indicate that there is a high level of compliance with EU and national legislation, and as a result, Ireland continues to maintain its high health status for aquatic animals.

As the Competent Authority, the Marine Institute is legally responsible for implementing EU and national regulation relating to aquatic animal health in Ireland. In this role, the Marine Institute aims to ensure that the existing high health status of aquatic animals in Ireland is maintained.

A new report published by the Marine Institute's Fish Health Unit (FHU) outlines the activities of the FHU in 2018 and 2019 and highlights that there was a high level of compliance with regulatory fish health requirements. A total of 384 health surveillance inspections of aquaculture production businesses were undertaken during this period, and 98% of the 384 sites inspected had no compliance issues or compliance issues that were categorised as minor.

Bill Doré, Manager of the Marine Institute's Fish Health Unit said, "As the Competent Authority in Ireland, the Marine Institute makes an important contribution to preventing and controlling aquatic animal diseases. By working closely with other state agencies to implement aquatic animal health regulations, Ireland is able to maintain its high health status for aquatic animals."

All Aquaculture Production Businesses in Ireland, such as finfish farms, shellfish farms, and put and take fisheries, must obtain a Fish Health Authorisation from the Marine Institute. To receive a Fish Health Authorisation, Aquaculture Production Businesses submit a Fish Health Management Plan for approval. This plan addresses how aquatic animal health will be maintained, and how diseases are controlled, as well as the mandatory conditions for record keeping and reporting to the Competent Authority.

The Marine Institute's Fish Health Unit, working with colleagues in the Department of Agriculture, food and the Marine veterinary services conducts regular health surveillance of fish and shellfish farms in Ireland, and is responsible for regulating the movement of aquatic animals within Ireland and during import or export to and from the state. In the 2018 and 2019 reporting period, over 3,000 movements of aquatic animals were approved.

The Fish Health Unit also hosts the National Reference Laboratories for finfish, mollusc and crustacean health for Ireland. The laboratories undertake testing and applied research to support fish health activities in Ireland. During the reporting period, the laboratories analysed over 1,500 shellfish and 5,000 fish for diagnostic, statutory and research purposes.

Published in Aquaculture
Tagged under

Coastal Communities are the focus this week on the Marine Institute’s Oceans of Learning series. The Marine Institute and partners are celebrating our world’s shared ocean and our connection to the sea in a 10-week series, sharing news and offering online interactive activities, videos and downloadable resources on a new marine topic each week

A series of watercolour illustrations and interviews have captured the importance of the ocean to coastal communities in Ireland and Wales as part of BlueFish, an EU-funded project. Through engaging with coastal communities using art, BlueFish links knowledge and understanding of the marine resources and the potential impacts of climate change on the Irish and Celtic Sea ecosystem

"Without the ocean, we wouldn't have a living: it's our only source of income in this rural part of Ireland. Climate change is definitely happening: growth periods are longer than they ever were. But higher water temperatures and higher rainfall could be catastrophic for our business," according to Oyster and mussel fishermen, Cromane, Co. Kerry.

The marine science research project BlueFish is a partnership between six organisations in Ireland and Wales including the Marine Institute, University College Cork, Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Bangor University, Aberystwyth University and Swansea University.

Urban sketcher Róisín Curé and a scientist from the Marine Institute visited coastal communities in Ireland and Wales. Róisín created watercolour illustrations showing the people whose livelihoods are dependent on the ocean and who have a profound and immediate interest in the effects of climate change. Also interviewed were fishermen, restaurateurs, shellfish producers, operators in the tourism sector and seafarers to gather an understanding about how they benefit from the ocean and their thoughts on climate change. The results of the interviews and art through watercolour illustrations created an accessible way for the public to understand the importance the ocean has on livelihoods in coastal communities.

By bringing artists and marine scientists together and working closely with project partners and coastal communities, the Marine Institute has developed a structured portfolio of artwork that is intended to promote a better understanding of the impacts of climate change on ecosystem goods and services; to demonstrate how climate change may impact these; and to highlight the wider societal benefits of healthy ecosystems in Irish and Welsh coastal communities that border the Irish and Celtic Sea(s). The artwork produced as part of the BlueFish project can be viewed in this video.

Dr Paul Connolly, CEO of the Marine Institute explained that "a central part of the project was listening to people living and working in coastal communities, and gathering their opinions about climate change and learning about how it might affect their livelihoods. This was a unique opportunity to talk directly to coastal communities and capture their perspectives through art," Dr Connolly said.

By engaging with people and industries dependant on the sea, the information gathered highlighted how they benefit from the ocean, their thoughts on climate change, and particularly how it was going to affect their lives and businesses.

Dorans on the Pier at Howth in County Dublin Illustration by Dorans on the Pier at Howth in County Dublin. Illustration by Róisín Curé

"Many of the stories reaffirmed the importance of the age-old relationship between people and the sea, noting that the sea is the life-blood which sustains these communities. The general consensus in both Ireland and Wales coastal communities was that climate change is happening. There was an acknowledgement and a realisation amongst the people interviewed that there was a real looming threat to their livelihoods," said Dr Connolly.

Many people commented on how they were seeing changes to their climate in their local communications. A local businessman from the Isle of Anglesey commented, 'in the 38 years I've been working here, the road would have flooded twice a year. Now it floods much more often.'

The Marine Institute’s Oceans of Learning series this week highlights Ireland’s Coastal Communities. Oceans of Learning offers videos, interactive activities and downloadable resources on our coasts and seashore. Commissioners of Irish Lights offers videos on the work they do to ensure safe navigation around our coast and a colouring book on the Great Lighthouses of Ireland. Find out more about Údarás na Gaeltachta and marine businesses in coastal communities through a series of videos. Discover the animals, seaweeds, plants and creatures along the seashore with the Explorers Education Programme’s Seashore Guide Work Book, and explore the habitats of Galway Bay with activities from Galway City Museum. There are also videos on the Marine Institute's shellfish safety programme and our coastal economy, posters and colouring activities about the marine life found along Ireland's coast.

Published in Island News

Scientists in West Cork are reporting significant results in use of a type of red seaweed to reduce methane emissions in cattle.

Cuts of between 40 and 98 per cent in emissions have already been achieved in trials in the US, Australia and New Zealand, Bantry Marine Research Station has told The Farmers’ Journal and The Irish Independent.

The West Cork research station, which is now owned by veterinary pharmaceuticals company Bimeda, has been testing effectiveness of red seaweed species Asparagopsis armata in animal feed here.

Canadian scientist Dr Rob Kinley, who pioneered research on its use with the Australian Common Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), has been collaborating with the Bantry station, managed by David O’Neill.

Asparagopsis armata which was discovered in Irish waters about 60 years ago and cultivated in the late 1990s in Ard Bay, Co Galway by research company Taighde Mara Teo, would have to be farmed here to meet sufficient quantities, O’Neill points out.

Asparagopsis armata was discovered in Irish waters about 60 years ago

He estimates animals fed with the constituent here could reduce emissions by 50 to 60 per cent.

The marine research company is co-operating with Udaras na Gaeltachta and Teagasc, and hopes to raise funds for more animal trials.

Údaras na Gaeltachta director of enterprise, employment and property Dr Mark White said there could be a double benefit for both farmers and climate change targets if the Bantry station’s work on the red seaweed additive does prove fruitful.

Teagasc principal research officer Prof Sinead Waters, who is also adjunct professor at the Ryan Institute, NUI Galway, said that while initial results from Australia and elsewhere are positive, “further research is warranted”.

Dee McElligott examines the red seaweed Asparagopsis armata in tests at Bantry marine research station, Co CorkDee McElligott examines the red seaweed Asparagopsis armata in tests at Bantry marine research station, Co Cork

Prof Waters and Teagasc colleague Dr Maria Hayes, are involved in two projects testing various feed additives to reduce methane - “Meth-Abate” funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, and “SeaSolutions” an EU- funded project with other Irish, EU and Canadian partners.

“There are a lot of caveats, such as bromoform, a compound within seaweed which is a known to reduce methane emissions but is also a known carcinogen. We need to ensure that if seaweed is fed to ruminants that no bromoform or other residues appear in the end meat and milk products,” Prof Waters said.

For more, read The Farmers’ Journal and The Irish Independent reports here

Published in Marine Science
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