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The Maritime Area Regulatory Authority (MARA) has initiated a study with the Marine Institute on whether certain marine environmental surveys require a licence.

The study will focus on marine environmental surveys “for the purposes of scientific discovery and research”, and marine environmental surveys “for the purposes of site investigation or in support of an application for planning for major developments”.

The new State regulatory authority for marine planning, says that “the output of this study, expected Q1 2024, will inform MARA if changes in the licence regime are warranted”.

“If so, MARA will engage with the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage to prioritise drafting legislative amendments to exempt some ‘low risk’ activities that are marine licensable,” it says.

The Marine Institute said it “is engaging with internal and external marine experts to help identify and propose activities that may be suitable for exemption”.

“This will be carried out by assessing marine data collection processes, publicly available data and survey techniques used in other mature markets”, it says.

“A comprehensive catalogue of the types of activities will be reviewed. The approaches adopted in other jurisdictions will also inform the process,” it says.

MARA chief executive officer Laura Brien said “the range of activities which require a marine licence is wide ranging from large complex works to smaller, low-risk works”.

“This is an important project which could result in an innovative approach to our licensing regime and ensure applications are treated in a proportionate way,” she said.

“The outcome of this work will be of interest to a number of our stakeholders, including industry, in particular those dealing with Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) and other maritime developments,” she said.

More information is available from Mara’s marine licensing team at email address [email protected]

Published in Marine Planning

Dr Colm Lordan, an Irish marine scientist with over 25 years of experience at the Marine Institute and involvement with the International Council for Exploration of the Sea (ICES) since 1993, has been appointed as the new Chair of the Advisory Committee (ACOM) at the 111th ICES Council meeting.

The ACOM provides independent scientific advice on the sustainable management of marine resources and ecosystems in the North Atlantic Ocean to a range of requestors, including the European Union, the UK, Iceland, and Norway. Dr. Lordan's appointment as the Integrated Advice Manager in the Fisheries Ecosystem Advisory Services (FEAS) section comes at a pivotal time of accelerating the pace of change and increasing anthropogenic pressures on marine ecosystems.

As the new head of ACOM, Dr. Lordan will lead the foremost marine science advisors from the ICES 20 member countries to generate state-of-the-art evidence-based advice to meet conservation, management, and sustainability goals. "I very much look forward to working with, and leading, ACOM," he stated.

Dr. Ciaran Kelly, Director of Fisheries Ecosystem Advisory Services at the Marine Institute, congratulated Dr. Lordan on his appointment and highlighted the Marine Institute's leadership and standing in the international marine science field. In fact, Dr. Lordan is the third secondment of a Marine Institute scientist to a position of international scientific importance.

Dr. Lordan will begin his three-year term on December 1, 2023.

Published in Marine Science
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The 10th International Conference of the European Global Ocean Observing System (EuroGOOS) is currently taking place in Galway, Ireland from October 3rd to 5th, 2023. This event is attended by a diverse group of ocean science professionals from policymakers to technology developers, forecasters and users. The conference has been officially endorsed by the UN Decade of Ocean Science as an official Ocean Decade Activity.

The conference focuses on a range of themes, including marine knowledge value chain, ocean data and forecasting services, EU priorities such as the Digital Ocean Twin, and the science behind Europe’s oceanographic capacity. The primary goal of the conference is to enhance global ocean observations, providing the vital data needed for improved forecasts and early warning systems to protect people and the planet.

Michael Gillooly, Interim CEO of the Marine Institute, welcomed the delegates, emphasising the importance of the conference for EuroGOOS. The conference comes at a pivotal time when experts are working towards protecting the health of the shared ocean by coordinating programmes in areas such as ocean observations.

Dr. Colm Lordan, Fisheries Ecosystem Advisory Services, Marine Institute, delivered a keynote address at the event discussing the data, science, and evidence needed to inform the development of offshore renewable energy. Dr. Lordan highlighted the importance of the transition to secure offshore renewable energy, ensuring it delivers net gains for sustainable seafood production while protecting and restoring marine ecosystems.

Ireland, through the Marine Institute, has been a member of EuroGOOS since 2005 and has supported EuroGOOS throughout its transition to becoming a legal entity in 2012.

Published in Marine Science
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Researchers on technology for the rapid diagnosis of fish disease on aquaculture sites have been awarded Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funding.

A team led by Dr Niall Maloney of the Atlantic Technological University (ATU) and Prof Enda McGlynn of Dublin City University (DCU) is working with Catherine McManus of Mowi Ireland on the project.

“Current methods for the diagnosis of pathogens in aquaculture are time-consuming and are carried out in laboratories that are sometimes far from farm sites,” Dr Maloney says.

“ By developing technology for use directly at the farm site, we can reduce sample to answer times and ensure more timely and appropriate disease management practices can be implemented,” he says.

The team says it will develop a test that works in a similar fashion to the COVID-19 tests that were used in homes and workplaces throughout the pandemic, but with some modifications.

Oxide nanostructures, which are thin and narrow will be grown on the paper used in these tests in Prof McGlynn’s laboratory.

“By increasing the surface to volume ratio of the test line using these structures it is hoped that assay performance can be improved by providing a larger area for the capture of pathogens,” they state.

“ A portable thermal reader will also be developed to scan the assay test lines to determine the number of infectious agents present,” they explain.

The support by SFI is drawn from the National Challenge Fund announced recently by Higher Education Minister Simon Harris.

The National Challenge Fund is a €65 million programme established under the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and funded by the European Union’s Recovery and Resilience Facility,

“An important part of Challenge-based funding is engagement with stakeholders and potential beneficiaries to ensure we are making informed decisions on the future direction of this project,” Dr Maloney says.

“This type of engagement will ensure that we focus our efforts on the real-world challenges faced when trying to diagnose infectious disease in aquaculture and ensure we can achieve maximum impact,” he says.

Published in Aquaculture

The state of marine food webs is changing, according to the OSPAR quality status report for the northeast Atlantic.

The report, published this week, highlights how a loss of marine biodiversity, pollution and climate change continue to affect the North-East Atlantic.

Among a myriad of findings, the report concludes that climate change and ocean acidification, which is caused by the sea’s increased uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and which impacts the ability of organisms to form shells and skeletons, are important drivers of change in the north-east Atlantic, in turn threatening marine biodiversity.

It also presents further evidence that marine food webs are changing. Improvements in relation to human activities have, however, been recorded in a number of areas, such as the prevention of pollution by radioactive substances and a reduction in negative impacts from oil and gas activities.

Minister for Heritage Malcolm Noonan said that “as living witnesses to a changing Atlantic, it’s crucial that we regularly and rigorously gather the science and present the evidence that tells us how our marine environment is doing, and that we do that in concert with our neighbours in the UK, mainland Europe and our Nordic and Icelandic partners”.

“OSPAR and the QSR 2023 [quality status report] provide that platform, to work together for our shared marine environment and to point out where decisive action is needed to protect it and restore it,” he said.

“For Ireland, the QSR 2023 assessments indicate how the comparatively lower level of urbanisation and industrial activity around our coasts and in our seas has so far afforded us a relatively clean, healthy, diverse and productive marine environment,” Noonan said.

“ However, it’s clear that the identified wider and growing challenges posed by climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, including marine litter, and the ongoing poor status of many marine species and habitats demonstrate a clear need for further coordinated action by OSPAR Contracting Parties.

The Marine Institute and Environmental Protection Agency also commented on the report and how it is helping Ireland to better understand the quality of the marine environment around Ireland.

Ireland is one of 16 parties to the OSPAR Convention, and the report sets out the evidence to inform important international and national decisions on how to improve this vital environment.

The QSR 2023 results from the combined efforts of over 400 experts, scientists, data analysts and policy colleagues, supported by contributions from OSPAR observers coming from industry, environmental non-governmental organisations and international partner organisations.

Published in Marine Science

Tara is a 36-metre French-registered marine research schooner which has an “excellent chef” on board, according to chief scientist Emmanuel Boss.

It has been commissioned by the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) for the Traversing European Coastlines (TREC) project, which has been in Galway as part of its work taking a snapshot of Europe’s land and sea coastal rim.

The schooner, which is based in Lorient, France, is ice-strengthened to work in - and cope with being ice-locked in - the Arctic.

It is financed through a mixture of private and public funds, with French designer Agnes B as one of the main sponsors.

However, it is a bit different to normal research vessels; everyone on board “gets to clean the toilets”, Boss says.

“It doesn’t matter if you are chief scientist or captain of the boat – everyone has to do their chores as part of a roster,” he said.

“This makes for “far better relations” and no hierarchy, Boss said – “the relationship between crew and scientists is tighter than on any other boat I have been on,”he said.

Tara, the 36-metre French-registered marine research schooner docked in GalwayTara, the 36-metre French-registered marine research schooner docked in Galway

Over 150 research teams from over 70 institutions in 29 European countries are involved in the TREC project, which is being co-ordinated by the EMBL, working with local partners such as the Marine Institute in Galway.

(Above and below) The Traversing European Coastlines (TREC) projec has been in Galway as part of its work taking a snapshot of Europe’s land and sea coastal rim(Above and below) The Traversing European Coastlines (TREC) projec has been in Galway as part of its work taking a snapshot of Europe’s land and sea coastal rim

In an interview for Wavelengths – also on RTÉ Countrywide – Boss, the professor explained how the TREC project works and how Tara is equipped.

More information on the TREC project and EMBL is here

Published in Wavelength Podcast
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Molecular mechanisms that allowed a type of tropical crayfish to become a global invasive species by adapting to colder water have been identified by scientists in Japan.

The research is relevant to growing concerns about animal species colonising new habitats across the globe, with devastating impacts on local biodiversity.

A paper published in the journal iScience explains that recently discovered genes may help the red swamp crayfish to produce protective proteins which allow them to adapt to the cold.

The red swamp crayfish—known to the scientific world as Procambarus clarkii (P. clarkii)— is a freshwater species native to the tropical regions of southern USA and northeastern Mexico.

These particular crayfish have become one of the most widespread and invasive animal species, the researchers note.

They are known for their “adaptability and aggressive behaviour that ensure their survival in a wide range of environments, even in regions much colder than their original habitats”.

A group of researchers from Japan, including Dr Daiki Sato, assistant professor at the Graduate School of Science of Chiba University, and Professor Takashi Makino from Tohoku University focused on crayfish settling Sapporo city in central Hokkaido, where water temperatures are extremely low during the winter.

They sought to study the genetic changes that have allowed the crayfish to adapt to these cold environments.

“A population of red swamp crayfish in Sapporo, Japan may have acquired genetic changes that enhanced its cold tolerance. We have revealed the genes and genomic architecture possibly involved in the cold adaptation mechanism,”Dr Sato said.

“Although the red swamp crayfish has been a well-known and notorious invasive species in Japan for quite some time, nobody has examined its genomic and transcriptomic characteristics that contribute to its invasiveness yet, thus motivating us to pursue this study,” Prof Makino, who led the study, said.

“We feel our study has far-reaching ecological implications,” he said.

“Overall, these findings significantly contribute to our understanding of invasive species, which may help us take measures to prevent their spread and, in turn, protect global biodiversity,” the researchers said.

Their study was made available online on July 3rd, 2023, and will be published in Volume 26, Issue 8 of the journal iScience on August 18, 2023.

Published in Marine Science

The Marine Institute's annual Poster Presentation Day was held on Friday, 28th July 2023, where student bursars showcased their summer internship research. For the first time, the 20 students not only presented posters but also gave flash presentations to supervisors, fellow bursars, and Marine Institute staff. The bursary programme, which has been active since the 1960s, offers students a unique opportunity to professionally contribute to the marine science industry before completing their tertiary education.

This year bursars worked in areas including fish husbandry, fish trap census research, ecological monitoring, data collation and organisation, marine research, INFOMAR data visualisation, DNA extraction and analysis, historical fisheries data reconstruction, climate research and outreach, finance, communications, and linking art and science.

Eight students’ efforts were spotlighted as exceptional. These students and their project areas were:

  • Rosemary Lane – Crayfish Plague Monitoring
  • Craig Ferguson – INFOMAR Seabed Mapping
  • Saoirse Cusack – Finance
  • Michael Officer – Marine Research Infrastructure
  • Colleen Kyan – Social Media and Communications
  • Brice Dourieu – Shellfish Research
  • Laura Foster – Infragravity Wave Modelling and Communications in Climate Services
  • Dan O Connell – Linking Art and Science

“It’s really wonderful to see the talent and innovation that our bursars display each year,” says Patricia Orme, Director of Corporate Services, on the topic of the Summer Bursary Poster Presentation Day. “An event like today gives us the opportunity to acknowledge all the hard work that the students have been doing for the past number of weeks. The posters were of exceptional quality, and their work added significant value to their teams and will result in lasting impacts within the Marine Institute. They should all be very proud of their efforts as the quality of work and output this year was excellent.”

Published in Marine Science

Yesterday, the Marine Institute, along with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the European Commission, co-hosted a high-level celebration in Iveagh House, Dublin, marking ten years of the Galway Statement - a decade of marine research cooperation across the Atlantic Ocean.

The milestone event, entitled "10 Years of the Galway Statement. Celebrating a decade of marine research cooperation along and across the Atlantic Ocean - Our Shared Resource" will continue today and Thursday at the Marine Institute and the University of Galway.

The Galway Statement is a landmark agreement signed by representatives of the European Union, the United States and Canada who agreed to join forces on Atlantic Ocean Research. The goal was to better understand the Atlantic Ocean and promote the sustainable management of its resources. The Agreement aimed to connect the ocean observation efforts of the three partners. The work also studied the interplay of the Atlantic Ocean with the Arctic Ocean, particularly in relation to climate change.

This celebration showcases and reflects on the achievements of the All-Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation Alliance (AAORIA), which has grown to become truly all-Atlantic - from East to West, North to South, and from the Arctic to Antarctica. The event also focused on the coming years, through high-level dialogue and intergenerational discussion, on this model for science diplomacy.

Yesterday’s event programme included presentations on discoveries and achievements from the past decade, while looking to the future with discussion on the future of AAORIA.

The Marine Institute coordinated the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance Coordination and Support Action up to 2020, partners in many of the Mission Ocean initiatives and looks forward to playing a pivotal role in the implementation of the All Atlantic Research and Innovation Alliance. The Marine Institute has recently launched its new five-year corporate strategy (2023-2027) which sets out eight strategic priorities centering on transforming the Institute’s knowledge, advice and services to benefit people, policy and planet. Ocean Knowledge that Informs and Inspires 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. 

Commenting on the event, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue said “As an island nation, bordering the Atlantic Ocean, Ireland’s culture, heritage and identity are intrinsically linked to the Ocean surrounding it. The Galway Statement has been instrumental in fostering a decade of marine research cooperation. It has led to the development of numerous collaborative projects and initiatives in which Ireland will continue to play a significant role over the next decade.

Michael Gillooly, Interim CEO of the Marine Institute said, “The Galway Statement and AAORIA have delivered an exemplary example of science diplomacy. The Marine Institute is proud to have contributed to this important work and we look forward to continued cooperation with the other members of the alliance”.

Further sessions are planned over the next two days showcasing the profound impact of the past decade's marine research collaboration. A significant program highlight will be the intergenerational discussion session to engage with Early Career Ocean Professionals, contributing to the AAORIA.

Published in Marine Science

The Marine Institute locations in Oranmore, Co. Galway, and Newport, Co. Mayo welcome 22 university students this month to take part in the 2023 Summer Bursary programme. The bursary facilitates research, collaboration, and mutual education for a period of eight to twelve weeks, with bursars learning about and experiencing the day-to-day activities of marine researchers and scientists.

This year’s bursars will work in areas including fish husbandry, fish trap census research, ecological monitoring, data collation and organisation, marine research, INFORMAR data visualisation, DNA extraction and analysis, historical fisheries data reconstruction, climate research and outreach, finance, communications, linking art and science, and looking at the history of EuroGoos. The programme consists of both professional work placement and research projects, which conclude with a demonstration of the education and skills gained by the bursars. This is presented through the production of posters displaying research findings, and a short presentation. The programme offers opportunities across a variety of fields, with many ex-bursars later finding occupations and conducting research as graduate employees of the Marine Institute.

The bursary programme, which has been running since the 1960s, provides students with the rare opportunity to take part in, and contribute professionally to the world of marine science and associated fields before concluding third-level education.

“The Summer Bursary programme in the Marine Institute is part of a long-standing tradition of reciprocal education, where both the students and the institute can gain valuable experience and exchange ideas,” says Dr Paul Connolly, CEO of the Marine Institute and ex-bursar himself.

Helen McCormick, Senior Laboratory Analyst and Bursary Co-ordinator, also comments that “the Marine Institute Bursary presents students with the opportunity to experience the world of marine science, allowing our bursars to conduct research in their particular areas of interest and gain insight into careers in the marine sector. We at the Marine Institute are proud to facilitate such education through the Summer Bursary programme and hope to continue to welcome students into our facilities for many years to come.”

The Marine Institute Summer Bursary Programme is available to undergraduate students from Third-Level Educational Institutions who have completed two or more years of study in a relevant discipline, with applications for the 2024 Summer Bursary opening in the spring of 2024.

Published in Marine Science
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