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Inland Fisheries Ireland and the School of Natural Sciences at Trinity College Dublin have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU).

The MOU will enable both institutions to collaborate across fisheries research projects.

Sean Canney, Minister of State with responsibility for the inland fisheries sector, attended the signing and welcomed the formalisation of the partnership across fisheries research.

The MOU is a culmination of a 20-year relationship between the two organisations and aims to bring greater synergy to their working relationship. It will increase opportunities for more collaborative projects through direct co-operation and sharing of resources.

The MOU was signed by Professor Andrew Bowie, associate dean of research at Trinity College Dublin, and Dr Ciaran Byrne, chief executive of Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI).

Commenting on the significance of the partnership, Minister Canney said: “I hope that the MOU will act as an impetus to move forward with joint research to support the conservation and development of our natural resource.”

In the year ahead, research around climate change and the challenges it presents for the fisheries resource will continue to be a focus for both organisations.

IFI has established a national climate monitoring programme in water bodies nationwide with a view to producing high-quality research to inform management strategies for freshwater and marine fish species experiencing the effects of climate change.

Trinity College Dublin recently appointed two academic staff to the School of Natural Sciences whose expertise are centred on marine ecology and fish biology. Those appointments bolster the existing capacity within the School of Natural Sciences for impactful and innovative research that is highly relevant to IFI’s broad remit.

Dr Byrne said IFI “is a unique research agency, where high-level scientific expertise in fisheries ecology is supported by a nationwide sampling programme which includes index river catchments that provide invaluable ecological time series.

“We collaborate in numerous research programmes, conducting applied science to inform expert advice on the management of Ireland’s inland fisheries resource.

“The natural affinity of Inland Fisheries Ireland and the School of Natural Sciences at Trinity College Dublin has been formalised today by the signing of this MOU. Both institutions have long histories of scientific discovery and producing high quality research; by consolidating future collaborations the inland and marine fisheries resource will benefit from the combined expertise of our researchers to deliver excellent research, which will support conservation and management of a precious natural resource.”

Prof Bowie added: “Our zoology department conducts world-leading research on the impacts of climate change across marine, freshwater and terrestrial systems.

“That department’s team of computation modellers, ecosystem ecologists, and conservation biologists represent a critical mass of expertise that should prove valuable partners for addressing broad questions with Inland Fisheries Ireland about climate impacts on fisheries resources.”

Published in Marine Science

There’s still time to apply for the Marine Institute’s vacancy for a temporary team leader for its Eurofleets Plus and Marine Robots projects.

Applications close at noon tomorrow, Monday 28 January for the position, in which the successful candidate will act as project manager for the Eurofleets Plus project.

Eurofleets Plus is a four-year advanced community research infrastructure project which has been awarded funding via Horizon 2020, and aims to unify oceanic research fleets across Europe for shared purposes and common goals.

Among other requirements, the Marine Institute is looking for applicants with degree in a scientific or technical subject am with a proven background in working in marine research projects, ideally in a co-ordination capacity.

The Marine Institute website has more on the role and how to apply HERE.

Published in Jobs

The Marine Institute has welcomed Irish commitments announced at the recent Our Ocean Conference in Bali which include the provision of €25 million for a 50-metre modern research vessel to replace the RV Celtic Voyager.

“The vessel 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,” Marine Institute chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan said.

In addition, the Marine Institute says it has committed €2 million towards a new five-year programme of ocean and climate research.

With 50% funding from the EU ERDF scheme, the Marine Institute is running a competitive funding call to support the establishment of a principal investigator-led research team in an Irish higher education iSnstitution.

“This is a key investment to build capacity in an area of research prioritised under the National Marine Research and Innovation Strategy (2017-2021),” Dr Heffernan said.

“The research funded under this programme will deliver societally relevant knowledge aimed at better understanding the complex interactions between the ocean and climate change.”

Minister Creed also announced the continued commitment to the Environmental Educational module of Ireland’s Green Schools programme, and the continued support of the Clean Coasts programme.

“These programmes aim to build on Ireland’s marine and maritime heritage by increasing awareness of the value, opportunities and social benefits of our ocean wealth and identity, further supporting the Marine Institute’s Explorers Education Programme,” Dr Heffernan said.

Other announcements by Ireland include the provision of €10m to the local authority sector in Ireland to aid in the establishment of four Climate Action Regional Offices (CAROs) and €1m over a five-year period (2019-2024) towards a new programme of ocean and climate research.

The Marine Institute also welcomes commitments announced by the European Commission which include €300 million for EU-funded initiatives for projects to tackle plastic pollution, make the ‘blue economy’ more sustainable and improve research and marine surveillance.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineScience - More than 70 leading marine scientists from across Europe met in Galway recently to discuss open access to research on ocean observation.

The Marine Institute in Oranmore hosted the second general assembly of the EU-funded Jerico-NEXT Project, which aims to build on the ongoing co-operation of coastal observatories in Europe — such as SmartBay in Galway — for wider application by the research community and society alike.

A fundamental tenet of the project is that coastal areas are the “most productive and dynamic environment” in the world’s oceans, according to the institute, with significant potential for renewable energy in particular.

“The Marine Institute has a longstanding commitment to the collection, processing and analysis of high quality coastal marine observations,” said the institute’s Paul Gaughan.

“In Ireland we are utilising the SmartBay coastal observatory, located 5km off Spiddal in Galway Bay, as a key component in this trans-European collaboration effort.

“From this we are able to deliver high quality information about sea conditions, subsea video and audio data in real-time to scientists around Europe to access and analyse.”

Data from the SmartBay site are freely available online.

The Marine Institute also recently hosted a delegation of officials from Kenya as part of the Memorandum of Understanding signed last year with the Kenyan Marine Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI).

The official visit focused on developing an action plan around seven priority areas outlined in the MoU, which include plans for marine fisheries management, hydro-acoustics and assessment of pelagic fisheries resources.

Other priorities are spatial analysis and mapping of vessel monitoring system (VMS) data, integration of VMS and logbook data for fisheries management, and a data management strategy.

Opportunities for exchange, study visits and developing joint PhD and post-doctoral research projects were also a focus of discussions.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineScience - Applications are open for shiptime in 2019 and 2020 on Ireland’s national research vessels Celtic Explorer and Celtic Voyager, as well as the ROV Holland I and the Laochra na Mara glider.

Every year a broad range of organisations use the Marine Institute’s vessels for research, development and monitoring programmes. These include Government departments and agencies, universities, research institutes and industry.

Applications for shiptime for 2019 and 2020 must be submitted using Research Vessel Operations’ online Survey Planning System (SPS) by Thursday 20 September. Please contact Research Vessel Operations to obtain an SPS login if you don’t already have one and to inquire about glider availability.

Each application will be reviewed and the applicant will be informed as soon as possible whether the shiptime they requested is available. If the requested shiptime is not available, alternative dates may be offered. The Vessel Charter Guidelines should be read carefully before submitting the ship time application form.

Applicants may seek grant aid to cover all or part of the vessel charter costs for research surveys or ship-based Training Programmes. The closing date for receipt of grant aid applications is 5pm on Friday 21 September.

Applicants for ship-based training are advised to consult with the Strategic Marine Alliance for Research and Training (SMART) at [email protected].

The survey schedules can change during the year, therefore please contact Research Vessel Operations to check whether any survey slots remain for 2018 or to be notified if any dates become available.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineScience - One of Ireland’s deep water coral reefs is changing at a rate of some 20% over four years, faster than previously thought.

That’s according to new research published by Dr Aaron Lim of the Marine Geology Research Group at University College Cork.

Images and samples were retrieved from the cold water reefs on two separate occasions using the Marine Institute’s ROV Holland 1 operated from the RV Celtic Explorer — representing “the first ever successful attempt at imaging an entire deep water reef” at 1km below the surface, explains Dr Lim.

“Over half the species of coral in the world are cold, deep-water species and many of them can be found in Irish waters between water depths of 600m and 1,000m,” he added.

One of the most prolific places on the planet for deepwater coral development is the Belgic Mound Province, at the Porcupine Bank on the Irish continental margin, where there are over fifty giant coral mounds and 300 smaller coral reefs. 

In 2011 and 2015, the Holland 1 was used by marine scientists to capture images and footage of the entire surface of one of these reefs, “which has for the first time has provided us the insight into how the reefs grow at this scale,” Dr Lim said.

“Initial results showed that the reef was extremely variable and is coping with the contemporary environmental conditions,” said Prof Andy Wheeler, head of geology at UCC and who has been working in Ireland’s corals for 20 years. 

“However, the issue is that it is so difficult to take images of the deep ocean that we can only get bits of information from these reefs during an expedition.”

Dr Lim added: “The importance of this technology and having access to the national research vessel has meant that we can get access to what was only a few decades ago inaccessible. We can now provide a detailed analyses of the reef, showing that it changed at a rate of 20% in four years.”

Unlike its tropical water counterparts, which suffer from mass coral bleaching events, the proportion of live coral on this reef did not change. 

“The change was in fact an increase in the proportion of dead coral and coral rubble areas, which is not the result of live coral dying, but possibly due to the result of strong currents exposing dead coral buried beneath older parts of the reef,” Dr Lim said. 

“Assuming the change continues at this rate, then in 20 years the reef will entirely change.”

Dr Lim and Prof Wheeler have commenced a sizeable research project to monitor a range of coral habitats on the Irish margin with the aim of understanding what is driving these habitats and what makes them change. This research has been funded by the Irish Research Council, the Marine Institute and UCC.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineScience - An Irish research team from IT Sligo and University College Cork recently joined the ‘Europe’s Lost Frontiers’ project to explore the extensive submerged landscapes in the Irish Sea aboard the Marine Institute’s Celtic Voyager research vessel research vessel.

Following the last Ice Age, large areas of habitable land were inundated following climate change and sea level rise across the world. Globally, the sea level rose around 120 metres and an area more than twice that of the modern United States of America was lost to the sea.

Beneath the waves of the Irish Sea is a prehistoric ‘palaeolandscape’ of plains, hills, marshlands and river valleys in which evidence of human activity is expected to be preserved.

This landscape is similar to Doggerland, an area of the southern North Sea and currently the best known example of a palaeolandscape in Europe. Doggerland has been extensively researched by Prof Vince Gaffney, principal investigator of the Europe’s Lost Frontiers project.

“Research by the project team has also provided accurate maps for the submerged lands that lie between Ireland and Britain,” said Prof Gaffney, “and these are suspected to hold crucial information regarding the first settlers of Ireland and adjacent lands along the Atlantic corridor.”

To provide this evidence, sediment from some 60 cores, taken from 20 sites by the RV Celtic Voyager in Liverpool and Cardigan Bays between the 21 and 25 February, will be studied by an international marine research team.

Dr James Bonsall, from the Centre for Environmental Research Innovation and Sustainability (CERIS) in the Department of Environmental Science at IT Sligo, was chief scientist for this phase of the research, and together with his CERIS colleague, environmental scientist Eithne Davis, directed operations on board the RV Celtic Voyager.

“It is very exciting,” said Dr Bonsall, “as we’re using cutting-edge technology to retrieve the first evidence for life within landscapes that were inundated by rising sea levels thousands of years ago.

“This is the first time that this range of techniques has been employed on submerged landscapes under the Irish Sea. Today we perceive the Irish Sea as a large body of water, a sea that separates us from Britain and mainland Europe, a sea that gives us an identity as a proud island nation. But 18,000 years ago, Ireland, Britain and Europe were part of a single landmass that gradually flooded over thousands of years, forming the islands that we know today.

“We’re going to find out where, when, why and how people lived on a landscape that today is located beneath the waves.”

Key outcomes of the research will be to reconstruct and simulate the palaeo-environments of the Irish Sea, using ancient DNA, analysed in the laboratories at the University of Warwick, and palaeo-environmental data extracted from the sediment cores.

The studies will be of immense value in understanding ‘first’ or ‘early’ contact and settlement around the coasts of Ireland and Britain, but also the lifestyles of those people who lived within the inundated, prehistoric landscapes that lie between our islands and which have never been adequately explored by archaeologists.

The Celtic Voyager and the Marine Institute’s expertise were provided to explore the extensive submerged landscapes, where marine core samples were taken. Technical support setting up the seabed survey and navigation systems was also provided by members of the DCCAE-funded INFOMAR team, who specialise in bathymetric mapping and geophysical survey.

This research survey was carried out with the support of the Marine Institute, funded under the Marine Research Programme 2014-2020 by the Irish Government.

Europe’s Lost Frontiers is an ERC-funded Advanced Grant project based at the University of Bradford. Aimed at understanding the transition between hunter gathering to farming in north-west Europe, the project is studying the evidence for inundated palaeolandscapes around the British coast using seismic reflectance data sets to generate topographical maps of these ‘lost lands’ that are as accurate and complete as possible.

Environmental data from these areas is then being used to reconstruct and simulate the palaeo-environments of these landscapes using ancient DNA extracted directly from sediment cores as well as traditional environmental evidence.

Published in Marine Science

#PáircNaMara - Galway County Council is seeking further details on the Páirc na Mara development for Connemara, following an objection from a local group opposed to salmon farming.

New plans for the ‘marine innovation park’ were submitted late last year by Údáras na Gaeltachta, envisaging a low-carbon marine industry hub over nine hectares, and with a focus on aquaculture research.

But as Galway Bay FM reports, an objection by Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages — which has long campaigned against aquaculture projects in the region — has “caused anger in west Connemara” where the park is slated to be developed.

The situation has now prompted the council to seek more information on the fish farming aspects of the project.

Galway Bay FM has more on the story HERE.

Published in Galway Harbour

#MarineScience - The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group’s Shannon Dolphin Project is seeking research assistants from May-September 2018 based in Kilrush, Co Clare.

Research assistants will be required to conduct monitoring surveys from dolphin-watching tour boats, spend a considerable amount of time on Shannon Estuary bottlenose dolphin photo identification and related office tasks, and assist in the management of the dolphin centre on a daily basis.

Photo ID training will be provided on the boats and in the office. There will also be the opportunity to help with research conducted on board the IWDG’s research vessels Muc Mhara and Celtic Mist, and to assist the IWDG with cetacean strandings should the opportunity arise.

These positions provide an excellent opportunity to develop skills in marine research and education and to assist with one of the longest-running bottlenose dolphin population monitoring programs in Europe.

There is no monetary compensation for these positions and a contribution of €400 per month towards accommodation and utilities is required.

Volunteers will be expected to work and live as part of a team with shared cooking and cleaning duties. Accommodation will be provided in a shared house within walking distance of the dolphin centre and town of Kilrush. Research assistants are responsible for their own food costs and travel expenses to and from Kilrush.

The closing date for applications is Friday 30 March. However, early application is recommended. Shortlisted candidates will be required to undertake a Skype interview in April. Successful applicants will be notified by mid-April.

Full details on the positions can be found on the IWDG website HERE.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineScience - Applications are invited for the post of Senior Post-Doctoral Researcher to join the MaREI Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy in University College Cork (UCC), based at the Beaufort Building in Ringaskiddy.

MaREI is a key research centre within UCC’s Environmental Research Institute (ERI) which is an internationally recognised Institute for environmental research dedicated to the understanding and protection of our natural environment and to developing innovative technologies, tools and services to facilitate a transformation to a zero-carbon and resource-efficient society.

Researchers in the MaREI Centre have over 30 years of experience in conducting fundamental and applied research supported by competitively won national and international funding, and commercial contracts with government agencies and industry.

MaREI’s strengths lie in the multi-disciplinary nature of its research teams, allowing it to combine insights across areas such as MRE Technologies, Materials & Structures, Observation & Operations, Coastal & Marine Systems, Bioenergy, Energy Policy & Modelling, and Renewable Energy Management.

The candidate will lead research focussed on but not limited to Horizon 2020 project the Coastal Waters Research Synergy Framework, or Co-ReSyf, which is currently developing a dedicated data access and online processing platform, with automated tools, methods and standards to support research application and data synergies using Earth observation (EO) data for the monitoring of coastal waters.

The main objective is better enable the research community to access a variety of dedicated data and pre-processing tools and, thus facilitate the provision of EO based, coastal waters services.

The Co-ReSyf platform is developed based on extensive user requirement gathering and stakeholder engagement, to which the candidate will contribute, as required.

UCC is a member of the Co-ReSyf consortium, and the project is one of a number of initiatives currently underway within the MaREI EO group. As a result, the successful candidate is expected to contribute to a number of current projects.

The deadline for applications is this Friday 16 February. More details are available from the UCC website HERE.

Published in Marine Science
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