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#MarineScience - The EurofleetPlus Kick-off meeting held at the Marine Institute in Galway this past week (Tuesday 5 to Thursday 7 March) announced details of the project that will facilitate access to the largest advanced marine science research vessel fleet across Europe, Greenland, USA and Canada, Bermuda and New Zealand.

Building on the achievements of the two preceding Eurofleets projects, the Marine Institute is a co-ordinator of EurofleetsPlus, a consortium comprising 42 marine institutes, universities, foundations and SMEs from 24 countries across Europe, North America and Oceania, with funding of €9.9 million.

Welcoming Ireland’s leadership role in this major EU Horizon 2020-funded project, Marine Minister Michael Creed said: “This recognises the high standards of scientific and operational excellence which continue to be achieved by the Marine Institute and is particularly relevant in the strategically important arena of research vessels operations, where the Marine Institute’s RV Celtic Explorer operates over 300 days of the year.

“Ireland’s participation in international research partnerships such as EurofleetsPlus adds value to Ireland’s ocean research capacity and I congratulate the Marine Institute on its outstanding success rate of 40% in Horizon 2020 funding bids totalling €6.6 million since 2014.”

Involving trans-national activities, the project will prioritise research on sustainable, clean and healthy oceans, linking with existing ocean observation infrastructures, as well as support innovative ideas working closely with industry.

Aodhán Fitzgerald, RV operations manager at the Marine Institute and EurofleetsPlus project co-ordinator, said that the project will enable access to an unprecedented number of vessels providing a significant increase in ship time at sea.

“With a fleet of 27 state-of-the-art research vessels from European and other international partners, this is extremely exciting for marine researchers as they now have opportunities to access research vessels in the North Atlantic, Mediterranean, Black Sea, North Sea, Baltic Sea, Pacific Southern Ocean and Ross Sea, through the competitive calls process.”

In addition to ship time, marine researchers and scientists will also have the opportunity to work with the best marine equipment and marine infrastructure exploring the ocean in ways that have not been possible in the past.

This will include access to seven new remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to capture video and samples from the deepest parts of the ocean. The researchers will have access to five autonomous underwater vehicles for collecting data relating to the ocean environment.

In addition, a unique mobile portable telepresence unit will also enable remote access by researchers and diverse end users including the public, which is a first for Europe.

Establishing a strategic roadmap and sustainability plan, EurofleetsPlus will extend and enhance the capabilities of the European research vessel infrastructure, bringing new perspectives, new ideas, and new research and innovation tracks that will be beneficial to all.

At the kick-off meeting, Fitzgerald added: “I am looking forward to working with established and new partners over the next four years. This trans-national project will provide us all with a unique opportunity to develop our networking activities, ensure robust call processes with booking ship-time, as well as increase our stakeholder engagement at a national and international level.”

EurofleetsPlus is funded under Horizon 2020 Integrating Activity for Advanced Communities with respect to Environmental and Earth Sciences - Research Vessels. The project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 824077.

Published in Marine Science

Imagine being able to plan, design and carry out your own scientific survey into the seas around us. Last week research students from across Europe were given just such an opportunity when they joined scientists onboard the Irish national research vessel RV Celtic Voyager in waters off Cork.

This unique opportunity for students to gain practical experience in carrying out multidisciplinary marine scientific research is part of the European Framework 7 project EUROFLEETS, and was designed, developed and co-funded by the Marine Institute, Ireland.

Over the course of six days, between the 14th and 19th August, 20 European postgraduate students learned the skills necessary to map the seabed, identify the animals and plants living there, and investigate the local and oceanic currents that influence them. Training focused specifically on operational research and included the deployment of equipment and instrumentation, sample recovery and processing, and data acquisition. Other modules investigated designing and planning a survey, operations and capabilities of research vessels and safety at sea.

Published in Marine Science

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