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A research award targeted at early-career researchers has been granted to Dr Joshka Kaufmann of the Marine Institute to investigate and predict how quickly natural Atlantic salmon evolve to human-driven environmental change. The SFI-IRC Pathway programme, a new collaborative initiative between Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the Irish Research Council (IRC), has been awarded to Dr Kaufmann to conduct state-of-the-art research at the Marine Institute on the evolutionary potential of natural populations of Atlantic salmon in Ireland and develop an independent track record in this important climate-biodiversity research nexus.

As current rates of planetary stress are leading to unprecedented declines in natural populations, understanding the potential of iconic species such as the Atlantic salmon to adapt to human impacts has become crucial for their preservation and management.

Dr Ciaran Kelly, Director of Fisheries Ecosystems Advisory Services of the Marine Institute said, “In line with national, European and global priorities on climate and biodiversity, this research will identify vulnerabilities and ultimately offer strategies for optimal conservation; helping to balance sustainable aquaculture with the interactions between natural and aquaculture environments. In addition to strengthening Irish research capabilities, the project will contribute towards evidence-based policy-making at national and international level, providing advice through ICES (International Council for Exploration of the Seas) to NASCO (North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation) and stakeholder groups such as the Atlantic Salmon Trust.”

The Marine Institute Newport research station in the Burrishoole catchment is a proven long-term natural observatory and an index Irish Atlantic salmon population. The systematic monitoring and sampling of salmon in the Burrishoole system (Co. Mayo) since 1958 provides a unique opportunity to link temporal changes in size, demography and genetic makeup of salmon with climate change, overfishing and mixing with cultured fish.

Prof. Philip McGinnity (UCC), Marine Institute Principal Investigator in Fish Population Genetics and lead on the SFI Investigators Award said,“Long-term ecological (and evolutionary) research is crucial to understanding how the world is changing and for informing conservation and protection programmes. Long-term studies with consistent data collection is rare, particularly in Ireland. As anadromous fish bridge freshwater and marine environments, they also provide an invaluable resource to understand the dynamic interconnections between land and sea and the role human actions such as climate change and overfishing.”

Dr Kaufmann of the Marine Institute said, “Building upon recent research successes constructing whole wild population pedigrees in SFI and Beaufort programmes, my plan is, with the support of a PhD student, to use next-generation high-throughput sequencing technologies and climate attribution to evaluate the evolutionary potential of natural populations of Atlantic salmon. Utilising these unique and irreplaceable multi-decadal pedigrees, I will identify how selection on traits changed with time and how this can impact the characteristics of salmon in the next decades.”

This knowledge will help provide advice for conservation and management of this iconic species under future climate scenarios and help reconcile the competing goals of aquaculture, fisheries and conservation. Dr Kaufmann will be hosted by the Marine Institute, Ireland's national agency for marine research and development, and work closely with other national and international research funders to promote the value of Ireland's unique marine resource.

This project is one of 53 research projects funded by the SFI-IRC Pathway programme to support early career research across all disciplines and to encourage interdisciplinary approaches.

Published in Marine Science
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A five-day continuing professional development (CPD) course has been successfully delivered in person to over 70 primary school teachers in Waterford, Kerry, Galway and for the first time in Cork.

Plus, a further 40 teachers are completed the Explorers Education Programme course online.

The programme, approved by the Department of Education and Skills, provides primary school teachers with the ocean knowledge and skills to introduce marine themes through cross-curricular teaching such as science, maths, geography, English and arts in classroom, as well as conducting field trips to the seashore.

Exploring sand dunes and rock pools, creating art pieces from flotsam and jetsam, conducting beach-clean games on the shore as well as learning about the seashore animals and the different types of seaweeds are all ways to teach children how to interact with the natural world.

Congratulating the Explorers team involved in the delivery of the programme nationwide, Patricia Orme, corporate services director with the Marine Institute said: “These courses are key to introducing teachers to ocean concepts, environmental awareness and climate change.

“We are delighted to see in-person CPD courses back in full swing and the Explorers first online course is also doing extremely well. The expansion of the CPD summer teachers training courses reaching over 100 teachers this year is testament to the hard work of the Explorers team and the ongoing support also provided by the education centres in Galway, Waterford, Tralee–Kerry, West Cork and Mayo.”

Cushla Dromgool-Regan, Explorers strategic education and communications manager with the Camden Education Trust thanked the teachers for their enthusiasm in teaching marine subjects in their classrooms.

Rory McAvinney from Galway Atlantaquaria delivers the Exploring Ireland’s Seashore course tho primary school teachers in Galway | Credit: Maria Vittoria MarraRory McAvinney from Galway Atlantaquaria delivers the Exploring Ireland’s Seashore course tho primary school teachers in Galway | Credit: Maria Vittoria Marra

“We were delighted with the positive feedback and especially where a number of teachers said that the skills learned during the training have also provided them with far reaching skills beyond the classroom and within their communities,” she said.

“One teacher explained that she had recently seen a mother finding it difficult to answer her child’s questions about what they were seeing on the shore in the rock pools, and unfortunately quickly pulled the child along.

“The teacher said at the time she felt disappointed she couldn’t help, but now after completing the Explorers course, she feels confident to help potential seashore explorers in this situation. She is now looking forward to paying it forward and encouraging children and parents to keep exploring over the summer, as well as when she gets back to school.

“The teacher's positive feedback and enthusiasm is very encouraging and highlights the importance of sharing our knowledge about the ocean. The idea of ‘paying it forward’ to inspire a new generation of ocean advocates is key to helping children develop a greater appreciation of the importance of the ocean and an understanding of the significant impact it has on our daily lives.”

The CPD course, Exploring Ireland’s Seashore through Science, Maths, Geography, English and Art, is still open for teachers to complete online. Registration closes on Wednesday 17 August. For further information see elearning.mayoeducationcentre.ie.

The Explorers Education Programme is managed by the Camden Education Trust and support services are provided by Galway Atlantaquaria. Explorers teams involved in the CPD training include Leave no Trace - Ireland (Waterford), Lifetime Lab (Cork), Sea Synergy (Kerry) and Galway Atlantaquaria (Galway).

The Explorers Education Programme is funded by the Marine Institute, Ireland’s State agency for marine research, technology development and innovation. For further information about the Explorer Education Programme see www.explorers.ie.

Published in Marine Science

The Marine Institute has shared a video documenting the key milestones in the build of Ireland’s new marine research vessel, the RV Tom Crean.

Delivered on time and on budget, the €25 million vessel was officially handed over to the Marine Institute on Friday 8 July and set off from its builders in Vigo, Spain for Galway Bay a week later.

The state-of-the-art ship is due in its new home port in the City of the Tribes early this week, and in the meantime you can watch the video below that charts the timeline of its build since the contract for its design was signed in January 2019.

Published in RV Tom Crean

Our Shared Ocean, a collaboration between Irish Aid-Department of Foreign Affairs and the Marine Institute, was launched in Lisbon yesterday by Irish Ambassador to Portugal, Ralph Victory, on board the Irish Naval Service Vessel, L.E. George Bernard Shaw, during the 2022 UN Ocean Conference.

Our Shared Ocean will provide €3.8 million over the next five years to facilitate partnerships on ocean-related issues between research institutions in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and their counterparts in Ireland.

Speaking at the launch, Dr Niall McDonough, Director of Policy, Innovation and Research Services at the Marine Institute, said, "we are proud to launch the Our Shared Ocean programme on the occasion of the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon. This flagship programme will support the development of new knowledge and new partnerships between researchers in Small Island Developing States and Ireland. As island nations, Our Shared Ocean can help us work better together to address the common challenges presented by climate change and to find solutions to sustainably benefit from the enormous potential of our ocean and its resources."

Our Shared Ocean aims to:

  • Build the Irish capability and knowledge base in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals related to sustainable ocean management as set out in Global Ireland and the SIDS Strategy;
  • Support capacity building in eligible SIDS partner countries and in Ireland in Oceans and Climate Action, Inclusive and sustainable blue economy and Marine Policy and ocean governance.
  • Establish and grow research partnerships between Irish institutions and international counterparts, providing research and technical support to assist eligible SIDS in addressing specific ocean and climate related challenges and opportunities.

The Marine Institute have developed a suite of research funding instruments in order to achieve these objectives, via Mobility and Travel Grants; Fellowships and Research Projects; and direct contribution to international programmes supporting ocean capacity building in eligible SIDS, with the first calls being launched this month. The programme is a key element of Ireland's contribution to the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

The launch of Our Shared Ocean in Lisbon also provided the opportunity to celebrate 80 years of relations between Ireland and Portugal. It recognised the strong marine links between the two countries, including through the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding between the Marine Institute and the Instituto do Mar e da Atmosfera.

As Afloat reported earlier, The Fair Seas campaign has welcomed Ireland’s contribution of almost 10 million euro to address ocean challenges faced by developing countries, including small island developing states. The funding was confirmed earlier this week by Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney on the eve of the UN Ocean Conference.

Published in Marine Science
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Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue today (Tuesday 28 June) announced the launch of Phase 1 of the new state-of-the-art Aquaculture Information Management System (AQUAMIS).

The online viewer was developed as part of Phase 1 of this project, which will develop an overall aquaculture management information system for aquaculture licences in Ireland.

Commenting on the launch, the minister said: “I’m delighted to deliver on the Government’s commitment to the further implementation of the recommendations of the Aquaculture License Review Group. This is the first step in digitising our aquaculture licensing application process.

“I’d like to acknowledge the excellent work of the department in digitally mapping this activity and integrating datasets from the Marine Institute and the National Parks and Wildlife Service. This innovative portal will for the first time provide a valuable online search facility for licensed aquaculture activity available to the general public and all our stakeholders.”

The online viewer will allow members of the public to freely access and view licensed aquaculture sites and mapping information through a public portal and was developed in collaboration with the Marine Institute.

Speaking at the announcement, Marine Institute chief executive Dr Paul Connolly said: “The Aquaculture Licensing Sites Viewer provides an important digital tool to facilitate the management of aquaculture in Ireland’s marine and fresh waters. The system will assist with the licensing and management of aquaculture operations throughout the country.

“This new digital application enables high-quality marine data and information to be more readily available for all, and is part of the Marine Institute’s service delivery to government, industry and the public.”

The viewer can be accessed at dafm-maps.marine.ie/aquaculture-viewer/

Published in Aquaculture
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The Marine Institute (MI - Ireland) and the Instituto Português do Mer e da Atmosfera (IPMA - Portugal) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Lisbon today. The MoU will enhance cooperation in the Atlantic Ocean area between the two organisations, particularly in relation to strategic cooperation on marine research.

The agreement was signed by Dr Paul Connolly, CEO of the Marine Institute, and Dr Jorge Miguel Alberto de Miranda, President of the IPMA, at the latter’s headquarters in Lisbon today (23rd June 2022). The Secretary of State for Maritime Affairs, Jose Maria Costa and the Irish Ambassador to Portugal, Ralf Victory attended the signing ceremony.

The MoU recognises the importance of cooperation to enhance marine sciences and technology, and will focus on collaborations that build up our knowledge base for the Atlantic Ocean. The IPMA is a public institution and an equivalent marine science organisation to the Marine Institute.

Dr Paul Connolly, CEO of the Marine Institute, said, “I am delighted to be signing the MoU with the IPMA today. This strategic alliance will tap into the scientific talent pools in both organisations, develop research partnerships in the Atlantic area and build up our ocean of knowledge base for the benefit of our coastal communities”.

Dr Miguel Miranda, President of IPMA, said “Ireland and Portugal have been working together for many years on marine science issues and we know each other and work well together. It is very important for us to continue to cooperate and be a strong voice for marine science and the Atlantic into the future”.

Both organisations agreed to pursue an MoU in 2020, but the Covid 19 pandemic stalled progress. The duration of the agreement is five years, with an option to renew for a similar period. A joint MI-IPMA Working Group will be set up in September to implement and steer the MOU.

Irish ambassador Ralph Victory echoed the importance of marine science and highlighted that next week, a UN conference on the “Decade of the Ocean”, organised by Portugal and Kenya, would be held in Lisbon and see many countries discussing the ocean and marine research.

Jose Maria Costa, (Portuguese Secretary of State for Maritime Affairs) was very supportive of the MOU and stressed the importance of growing the relationship between Ireland and Portugal in relation to the Atlantic.

 

The implementation of cooperation within the MoU’s framework will include capacity building, training and exchange of expertise and staff, and developing strategic alliance to build research proposals. It will also include conducting joint research projects, co-organisation of conferences, seminars and workshops, and more.

The broad areas covered by the MoU are multi-faceted and will focus on:

  • Marine environmental monitoring
  • Harmful algae bloom, toxins and forecasting
  • Aquaculture and farmed fish/shellfish health
  • Marine Spatial Planning
  • Benthic Mapping, Biodiversity, Climate and Ocean Change
  • New seafood products
  • New approaches to improve seafood quality and safety
  • Fisheries and marine science cooperation within in the framework of International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES)
  • Marine research infrastructures.
  • Renewable energy science and technology
  • Promotion of joint, high-level scientific publications
  • Promote common and joint leadership opportunities in the All-Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation Alliance
  • Cooperate on building mutually beneficial strategic research alliances that build research proposals that target funding under the EU Mission Starfish, the EU Horizon Europe and Atlantic Strategy programmes

Many of the scientific leaders in IPMA were present at the signing of the MOU. During informal conversations after the ceremony, they all mentioned the current cooperation with the Marine Institute in areas such as research vessel operations, monitoring of harmful algal blooms, fisheries and aquaculture and the need to grow this cooperation into areas that ensure the health of our ocean such as Marine Spatial Planning and the monitoring of biodiversity and the ocean environment.

There are very exciting times for marine science in the Atlantic. There is a great opportunity to address many important societal and government questions on the health of our oceans and how to achieve a sustainable blue economy for our coastal communities.

Published in Marine Science
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The Marine Institute and the Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) at NUI Galway are conducting a survey of marine and marine-related businesses as part of the regular reporting on Ireland’s Ocean Economy.

Although the CSO and other State organisations provide some data on marine related economic activity, the Marine Institute says there is a need to supplement this data with company surveys across a number of sectors in the growing blue economy.

These include advanced marine technology products and services, offshore renewable energy, marine commerce and legal services, marine manufacturing, construction and engineering.

The survey began this month and will continue in July, with the results published later this year. In addition to general economic figures collected, this year’s survey includes a section on the impact of COVID-19 and other external factors effecting marine businesses.

Queries regarding the survey should be directed to Marie-Christin Lanser, scientific technical officer with the Marine Socio-Economic and Social Data Programme at [email protected] or Prof Stephen Hynes, director of SEMRU at NUIG at [email protected]

Published in News Update

It is “on time and on budget”. That’s the Marine Institute’s new 25 million euro research ship, RV Tom Crean, due for delivery this autumn.

Named after the Kerry polar explorer who worked with both Ernest Shackleton and Sir Robert Scott, the vessel has been designed by Norwegian consultants Skipsteknisk AS and has been built by Spanish shipyard Astilleros Armon in Vigo, Spain.

It will be at sea for 300 operational days each year – heading to sea for at least 21 days at a time - and aims to accommodate up to 3000 scientist days annually.

It also aims to be a “silent vessel”, meeting the ICES 209 noise standard for fisheries research, while also being capable of handling harsh sea conditions.

The RV Tom Crean replaces the Celtic Voyager, which Aodhán Fitzgerald has fond memories of during his early research days as a student.

Aodhan Fitzgerald is the Marine Institute’s research vessel managerAodhan Fitzgerald is the Marine Institute’s research vessel manager

Fitzgerald is the Marine Institute’s research vessel manager, and project manager for the new build.

He is recently back from sea trials and spoke to Wavelengths about how they went (below).

You can read more about the RV Tom Crean on the Marine Institute’s website here

Published in Wavelength Podcast

The Marine Institute welcomes 13 undergraduate students who will expand their knowledge of marine science as part of the 2022 Marine Institute Summer Bursary Scholarship Programme. Their 8 to 12 week placements will be based at the Marine Institute’s Headquarters in Oranmore Co. Galway, and at the Burrishoole facility in Newport Co. Mayo. They will gain valuable, practical experience across a broad range of marine science and related areas.

The programme enables students to obtain work experience in a number of broad service areas in the Marine Institute focuses on Fisheries, Molecular Chemistry, Aquaculture, Marine Infrastructure Asset Management, Oceanographic analysis, Ocean Economics, Research Office, Human resources, Library and Marine Communications.

“The summer bursary programme has been in place since the 1960s, with previous bursars going on to secure positions with the Marine Institute at all grades up to and including the current CEO,” said Helen McCormick, Senior Laboratory Analyst, and co-ordinator of the bursary programme at the Marine Institute. “This highly sought after work experience programme enables students to further their knowledge in marine science, while also expanding their professional networks,” she added.

As part of the Bursary Scholarship Programme, the students will prepare presentations about their work experience and the skills and knowledge they have learned during the placement. They will then present these presentations to their colleagues and other students at the Marine Institute.

Dr Paul Connolly, CEO of the Marine Institute, welcoming this year’s students, said “The bursary programme is for students who are passionate about the ocean and the marine sector, and supports the development of their skills, capabilities and networks. It equips students with the skills that will help them become ocean leaders of the future.”

The Marine Institute Summer Bursary Programme is available annually to undergraduate students from Universities, Institutes of Technology, and National Institutes for Higher Education, who have completed at least two years of study in a relevant discipline.

Published in Marine Science
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Tune into a live chat with Ireland’s marine scientists to celebrate World Oceans Day next Wednesday 8 June.

The conversation will be broadcast live on the Marine Institute’s socials — Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube — at 10.30am.

Join Marine Institute scientists David O’Sullivan, Claire Moore, David Stokes and Caroline Cusack to hear what it’s like to survey our seas on Ireland’s national marine research vessels.

The RV Celtic Explorer and the RV Celtic Voyager are among the most intensively used research vessels in the world, and have played an essential role in fisheries surveys, seabed mapping, and oceanographic research.

Expeditions on the RV Celtic Explorer in Irish and international waters have resulted in many exciting discoveries — from deep-water shark nurseries and cold-water coral reefs to to hydrothermal vents fields in the mid-Atlantic.

The panel of scientists will share what they enjoy about their work at sea and some of their most memorable experiences while on board. They will also talk about their career paths and offer advice for those interested in pursuing marine and maritime careers.

This live broadcast is part of the Marine Institute’s Oceans of Learning series, which aims to remind everyone of the major role the ocean has on our everyday lives and to inspire a new generation of ocean champions.

More about the scientists taking part in the live chat:

David O’Sullivan, Advanced Mapping Services
David is part of the Advanced Mapping Services team at the Marine Institute and Ireland’s national seabed mapping programme, INFOMAR. David was offshore chief scientist for the SeaRover surveys (2017-2019) which mapped sensitive marine habitats at depths of up to 3,000 metres in Ireland’s offshore territory using the ROV Holland 1. The SeaRover team mapped cold-water coral reefs, documented new species within Irish waters and discovered a rare shark nursery 200 miles west of Ireland.

Claire Moore, Fisheries Scientist
Claire is a fisheries ecologist, and says she feels more like a detective then a biologist. She works on solving biological puzzles around the health and productivity of our oceans, piecing together valuable information collected at sea, in ports and labs, to produce statistical models that inform our decisions for a sustainable future.

David Stokes, Fisheries Scientist
David is an enthusiastic fisheries scientist with over 25 years’ experience in data collection and analysis, both in marine and freshwater. David has worked with the Marine Institute for the last 22 years to run the Irish Groundfish Survey programme on the RV Celtic Explorer, which originally started on the RV Celtic Voyager combined with chartered commercial fishing vessels.

Caroline Cusack, Biological Oceanographer
Caroline leads the Marine Institute’s annual ocean climate survey on the RV Celtic Explorer. She is also involved in ocean observation projects that monitor the health of our ocean. Recently she has carried out research related to developing marine ecosystem climate services.

Published in Marine Science
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