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Primary classrooms throughout Ireland are celebrating cephalopods throughout the month of October with the launch of the Explorers Education Programme’s new educational resources focusing on squid.

Marine scientists around the world have been studying squid for many years, learning about their evolution, what they eat and what eats them, as well as their habitats and distribution in the global ocean,” says the Marine Institute’s Patricia Orme.

“When talking about cephalopods, we often think of the charismatic octopus, or the cuttlefish and their ability to change colours. However, squid also have special qualities, including the ability to see long distances in the dark, and being able to fly above the water.”

Squid have also been a point of interest for storytellers, artists, film-makers and museum curators the world over, says Cushla Dromgool-Regan of the Camden Education Trust.

“Led by the work of scientists, researchers and storytellers, the Explorers team are delighted to have produced a series of resources that will inspire teachers and children to learn more about the ocean, and possibly become ocean explorers themselves,” she adds.

Find the new resources on the Explorers microsite, and follow the Explorers Education Programme on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more fun facts about squid … and even the fearsome Kraken!

Published in Marine Science

The Department of Transport advises that an analogue survey consisting of multibeam, side-scan sonar and magnetometer will be carried out off the South Coast of Ireland by the Marine Institute on behalf of Providence Resources from Saturday 23 to Sunday 31 October, weather permitting.

In addition to the analogue survey, seabed samples and camera imagery will be acquired at approximately 10 stations in the survey area.

The survey will be conducted in Block 48/24 Barryroe, in the North Celtic Basin, around 45–50km from the south coast of Ireland, and will be undertaken by the RV Celtic Voyager (callsign EIQN). The vessel will be towing a side-scan sonar and magnetometer from time to time with cables of up to 300m long.

As this vessel will be restricted in its ability to manoeuvre when surveying, other vessels are requested to keep a wide berth. The vessel will display appropriate lights and signals.

For details of coordinates of the survey area, see Marine Notice No 55 of 2021 which is available to download below.

Published in News Update

What is the ‘blue bioeconomy’? Who are the people working on it in Ireland and where do they get support?

Marine scientist and influencer Finn van der Aar will host the first in a series of online events later this month for those who want to learn more about this developing sector and the innovative researchers and businesses operating within it.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will also showcase the relevant supports available and an overview of projects already operating within the blue bioeconomy.

“Bioeconomy-The Blue Perspective” takes place next Friday morning 22 October from 10am to 11.30am. For the agenda and details of how to register, see the event’s Eventbrite page.

This event is organised by the Páirc na Mara Marine Innovation Development Centre, Údarás na Gaeltachta and the Marine Institute as part of Bioeconomy Ireland Week.

Published in Marine Science

The Explorers Education Programme has been expanded to deliver modules to primary schools in all of Ireland’s coastal counties.

Established in Galway over 15 years ago and funded by the Marine Institute, the Explorers programme now reaches schools all around the coast — including Leitrim, the coastal county with the shortest coastline — via outreach teams offering a wide range of marine science modules for the classroom and field trips to the seashore.

With this expansion, the programme says its teams will also be able to offer online and blended learning modules to classes from inland counties.

“With an increasing awareness of ocean literacy and the value of ocean sciences in Ireland, we can’t wait to share all of what the Explorers team have to offer with primary schools in these new counties,” said Cushla Dromgool-Regan, strategic education and communications manager with the Camden Education Trust.

“We have been very lucky to have been working with a group of marine education experts and outreach officers for a number of years, and we are now extremely pleased to be working with additional new members joining the team.

“They have all showed how extremely passionate they are about sharing their ocean knowledge with children, as well as supporting teachers with the delivery of marine-themed content that can be used on the primary schools curriculum.”

Explorers team members will be working with primary school teachers introducing a range of exciting marine projects and resources over the coming months, covering topics such as marine biodiversity and environmental awareness to a range of STEM topics leading up to Maths Week in October and Science Week in November.

“The teams can reach classes delivering face-to-face project modules held in the class, seashore safaris, as well as through online and blended learning. Our new Explorers Back to School Brochure also provides information about our modules and links to the centres for bookings,” Dromgool-Regan said.

The outreach teams that deliver the Explorers programme to primary school children include: Leave No Trace Ireland; Galway Atlantaquaria; Sea Synergy Marine Awareness Centre in Co Kerry; Old Cork Waterworks Experience; Oceanics Surf School in Tramore; and Marine Dimensions in Bray.

Enquiries about bookings can be made directly to the above centres. Schools and classes located within inland counties should be sent to the Explorers support services team at Galway Atlantaquaria to check on an outreach centre’s availability.

The Explorers Education Programme also has a wide range of teaching materials that are freely available on the explorers.ie website.

Published in Marine Science

Professor Dave Reid of the Marine Institute received an Outstanding Achievement Award from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) at their virtual Annual Science Conference 2021.

Prof Reid is a principal investigator in the Fisheries Ecosystems Advisory Services team at the Marine Institute. As an ecosystem scientist, he is involved in a number of EU-funded projects and leads a team of students and researchers.

The ICES Outstanding Achievement Award honours scientists who have made a notable contribution to the organisation of ICES in the field of marine science over a sustained period of time.

Prof Reid’s first leadership involvement with ICES was chairing the Planning Group on the HAC (file type) Data Exchange Format, a role he held for six years and since then he has participated in 25 working groups, 30 workshops, two strategic initiatives, four steering groups and the Science Committee.

He has also chaired 10 workshops, eight working groups and two steering groups, and is currently an active member of 12 of these groups.

Congratulating Prof Reid, the Marine Institute’s interim chief executive Michael Gillooly said the award recognised his contributions to marine science and his longstanding commitment to ICES.

“It is a great honour for Prof Reid to be acknowledged by his colleagues at the Marine Institute and the international scientific community for his endeavours in science, research, and leadership,” he added.

Prof Reid says he is most proud of his involvement in the ICES Working Group called WKIrish, an ecosystem-based approach to fishery management for the Irish Sea.

“This was a collaboration between ecosystem scientists, with fish stock assessors and fishers in the industry,” he said. “We were trying to explain why the Irish Sea had become less successful as a fishing ground. The fishers had asked for this study, and they really engaged with it. They were with us for the whole journey, and the study had great results.

“The most inspiring aspect of my career by far is the chance to work with young scientists at the start of their career. I’ve always found this incredibly stimulating — they are smart, lively, switched on and sparky people.

“Working with people like that not only keeps me semi-young, but I also get to train them, see them develop and continue on to careers in marine science and some of my ex-graduates are now working at the European Commission and governments around the world.”

Published in Marine Science
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In celebration of National Heritage Week 2021, the Marine Institute has launched a new Interactive Marine Archive where you can explore two rare historical collections on Irish sea and inland fisheries.

The digitised collections include the Sea and Inland Fisheries reports from 1839-1987, which show what fish were being taken from our seas, where they were landed and their values at market annually, among other revealing tidbits.

Also available is the Scientific Investigations collection which spans from 1901-1926 and contains papers and journal articles of new scientific discoveries of that time, such as how Maude Delap closed the life cycle of the jellyfish and the deep-sea documentations of Anne Massey.

“These reports contain valuable data about the pre-exploitation state of Irish fisheries,” said Stephanie Ronan, librarian at the Marine Institute. “Digitising these historical books and extracting key information enables these data to be visualised and explored, making them easily and widely accessible to researchers and the public today.”

Dr Maurice Clarke, marine ecosystems lead at the Marine Institute, added: “It is only in examining the past, and beginning our journey of discovery with the appropriate baseline data, that we can offer advice on the impacts of climate change and fishing to government.

“For example, the work done a hundred years ago on the herring fisheries in Ireland — which yielded tens of thousands of tonnes annually, while today the yields are in the mere hundreds of tonnes — shows the impacts that climatic changes had even then.”

An interactive timeline takes you through 150 years of Irish fisheries history and the highlights for each year from the Sea and Inland Fisheries reports and Scientific Investigations series.

The Habitat Map displays the location of oyster beds licenses granted in 1875 throughout Ireland. Select a location and find out where the license was granted, to whom, when and the area of the beds in acres, roods and perches. The archive also includes annual landing data for species such as cod, haddock and salmon.

You can explore the work and achievements of many of the key scientists in Ireland, from Ernest Holt, George Farran and Arthur Went to the Marine Institute’s John Molloy.

And find out more about the vessels that have supported Irish fisheries research throughout the years, from the Helga — a 150ft steam liner used in 1901 — to the Marine Institute’s modern RV Celtic Explorer and RV Celtic Voyager which are used by scientists today.

The Interactive Marine Archive project was funded under the European Maritime Fisheries Fund Marine Biodiversity Scheme.

Published in Coastal Notes

The Marine Institute (MI), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Met Éireann (MÉ) have published a report on "The Status of Ireland's Climate".

This is the second comprehensive analysis of "essential" climate data collected in Ireland. It confirms and updates findings from the 2012 report and details how global changes are being reflected in our atmosphere, oceans and our landscape.

The report was prepared by MaREI, University College Cork and funded by The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Met Éireann (MÉ) and the Marine Institute (MI).

• Long term observations in Ireland provide important insights on the causes and consequences of Climate Change;
• Increases in atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have been observed in Ireland, and reflect the increasing global levels of these key drivers of global warming;
• Global warming has resulted in Ireland's climate becoming warmer and wetter;
• Sea level rise, increased ocean acidity, and higher ocean temperatures are also observed in our oceans and coastal areas;
• Ireland's ocean and terrestrial ecosystems are responding to these changes, resulting in changes in ocean species and a longer growing season on land.

Welcoming the publication of the report Laura Burke, EPA Director General, said: "Climate observations provide the basis for our understanding of the realities of climate change here in Ireland, in Europe, and globally. As a Party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Paris Agreement, Ireland has committed to carry out the range of climate observations outlined in this report. These data enable bodies such as the IPCC to carry out their analysis of global changes. Importantly, they are needed to inform effective responses to the changes that are happening here in Ireland.

Today's report brings together the evidence of the changes that have occurred across Ireland's environment, from both long term detailed measurements on our land and in our oceans and atmosphere and from linked data from satellite observations from programmes such as Copernicus."

The scientific data monitored and collated by GCOS Ireland represents Ireland's long- standing contribution to the international scientific effort of providing the fundamental data needed to monitor our changing climate. GCOS Ireland collects scientific data on more than 40 Essential Climate Variables, identified by the UNFCCC, across atmospheric, oceanic, and terrestrial domains.

Highlighting the importance of the Status of Ireland's Climate report Eoin Moran, Director, Met Éireann said: "As citizen's in Ireland and around the world are now seeing the impacts of Climate Change, through evermore extreme weather events, fires and flooding etc; high quality observations of the climate are crucial to help inform society's response to the Climate Emergency. Scientific long-term monitoring of the climate underpins climate research and the development of climate services which support policy making and decision making in the face of the urgency of the climate crisis.

The Status of Ireland's Climate report not only includes invaluable data provided to GCOS as Ireland's contribution to the global climate monitoring effort but also informs development and improvement of national climate monitoring infrastructure to provide ever better understanding of our climate system and to optimise national climate monitoring capacity. This long-term climate monitoring allows us to best compare changes occurring in Ireland's climate to those across Europe and the rest of the world and to tailor our national response into the future".

Commenting on the findings, Mick Gillooly, Interim CEO, Marine Institute, said: "Long term climate monitoring programmes are needed to provide the evidence required to support national climate policy and action. It is through sustainable long term monitoring networks that we can measure the current state of our climate, and how much it has changed by, which in turn gives us an indication of how much more it is likely to change by into the future."

Key findings from the report


Atmosphere
• The annual average surface air temperature in Ireland has increased by over 0.9oC over the last 120 years, with a rise in temperature being observed in all seasons.
• Annual precipitation was 6 per cent higher in the period 1989 to 2018, compared to the 30-year period 1961 to 1990.
• The concentration of the main Climate driver: greenhouse gases - carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide - measured in Ireland, continued to increase since 2012 with long term implications for our climate.

Oceans
• Satellite observations indicate that the sea level around Ireland has risen by approximately 2-3mm per year since the early 1990s.
• Measurements in the surface water to the west of Ireland indicate an increase in ocean acidity which is comparable to the rate of change in oceans around the world.
• The average sea surface temperature measured at Malin Head has been 0.47ºC higher over the last ten years compared to the period 1981-2010.

Land
• There is an increase in river flows across most of Ireland since the early 70s. However, there is evidence in recent years of an increase in potential drought conditions especially in the east.
• Land cover observations since 1990 show increases in the areas covered by artificial surfaces and forest whilst there is a decrease in wetland areas.

The report also identified that progress has been made in several areas of Ireland's observation infrastructure, resourcing, analyses and co-ordination, since the 2012 Climate status report. Nonetheless, further action is needed to ensure the national climate observation system is fit for purpose for the coming decades. This includes continued maintenance of existing climate monitoring programmes and infrastructure, the transition of climate observations to long-term sustainable programmes, and investigate potential to monitor essential climate variables not currently observed in Ireland.

Links to relevant materials

The Status of Ireland's Climate, 2020

Summary brochure

Climate Ireland, Ireland's Climate Status Tool, provides interactive access to the Climate Status Report Ireland (CSRI) 2020.

Contact Information

Environmental Protection Agency:
Emily Williamson/Aileen Moon, EPA Media Relations Office 053-9170770 (24 hours) or [email protected]

Met Éireann
Bonnie Diamond, Communications Meteorologist 01-8064255 or [email protected]

Marine Institute
Sheila Byrnes, Communications Manager, 087-8155271 or [email protected]

Published in Marine Science

A new, free online training course in integrated multi-trophic aquaculture has been developed as part of the IMPAQT research project.

Integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) involves farming multiple, complementary species from different levels of the food chain together for their mutual benefit.

The new massive open online course (MOOC) available on the Open University’s OpenLearnCreate platform aims to facilitate the effective transfer of knowledge on IMTA, precision aquaculture and the results of the IMPAQT project to interested stakeholders, policy makers and the aquaculture industry.

The EU’s Horizon 2020 IMPAQT (Intelligent Management System for Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture) project aims to promote aquaculture production based on the IMTA concept.

Coordinated by the Marine Institute, the IMPAQT research project has developed an AI management platform which analyses the environment, fish behaviour and data from satellites and images, as well as inputs from the farmer on site.

Alaria esculenta being brought to the surface on a long line | Credit: IMPAQTAlaria esculenta being brought to the surface on a long line | Credit: IMPAQT

This platform provides information on fish welfare and water quality, as well as real-time operational feedback and advice to the farmer on the management of their site.

The IMPAQT system has been designed and tested at the Marine Institute’s research site in Lehanagh Pool in Co Galway, the Keywater Fisheries IMTA site in Co Sligo and four other aquaculture sites in Europe and China.

Frank Kane, Marine Institute and IMPAQT coordinator, said: “This new course presents the outputs and results from the IMPAQT project in an accessible, understandable and dynamic online format.

“The online training course will help to strengthen the research and innovative aquaculture landscape, by transferring the key aspects of IMTA to stakeholders, investors and enterprises interested in starting up or integrating an IMTA system.”

The new online course comprises four modules that can be completed in eight hours, and will be of interest to those working in the aquaculture sector (fish farmers, farm owners, regulators, policy makers) as well as those who support the sector (technology suppliers and developers, representative organisations, trainers and educators, regulators and policy makers) along with investors in the sector.

Published in Aquaculture

The ability to track free-swimming salmon juveniles has been extended hundreds of kilometres into the open ocean using advanced robotic technology.

As part of the EU INTERREG VA-funded SeaMonitor project, Dr Ross O'Neill of the Marine Institute and Kieran Adlum, P&O Maritime, tested a remotely operated ocean glider along the steeply sloping area of the shelf edge some 130km north-west of the Scottish Hebrides.

The torpedo-shaped device, equipped with an acoustic tag detector, was deployed from the RV Celtic Explorer on 16 April during the 2021 Irish Anglerfish and Megrim Survey.

This is the first time such active tracking technology has been applied to Atlantic salmon in Europe.

During its two-month mission, the glider successfully detected four individual juvenile salmon smolts measuring only 15-19cm, nearly 600km from their home rivers in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

These fish had been tagged between four and six weeks previously with electronic acoustic transmitting tags along with hundreds of other juvenile salmon as part of the SeaMonitor project as well as the West Coast Tracking Project, a partnership between the Atlantic Salmon Trust, Fisheries Management Scotland and Marine Scotland, EU INTERREG VA-funded COMPASS project and Agri-Food Biosciences Institute (AFBI) research initiatives.

One of the main aims of these projects is to investigate the persistent low marine survival of Atlantic salmon in the early stages of their oceanic migration to feeding grounds in the North Atlantic.

The four fish originated from the River Burrishoole in Co Mayo, the River Bann in Northern Ireland and the rivers Clyde and Awe in Scotland.

Up to now, most tracking studies had been limited to estuarine or coastal areas due to technology limitations and the need for stationary receivers.

Map showing SeaMonitor Atlantic salmon smolt detection and release locations

According to Dr Niall Ó Maoiléidigh of the Marine Institute and principal investigator for the SeaMonitor project: “The detection of these fish confirms the importance of the shelf edge in this amazing journey, as the faster currents associated with the steep slopes most likely act as an aquatic transport system facilitating the northward migration of these tiny fish through a very harsh environment.”

Prof Colin Adams of the University of Glasgow and principal investigator for the SeaMonitor Project added: “This study shows that tracking salmon over considerable distances at sea can be achieved which is crucial for research into highly migratory marine species especially where mortality may be occurring far from the shore.”

Dr Ciaran Kelly, director of fisheries ecosystems and advisory services at the Marine Institute, said: “The use of the glider to track the movements of even very small fish has been clearly demonstrated and this will encourage the use of autonomous underwater vehicles to improve information on many marine species of animals which may be endangered or threatened without interfering with their natural migrations.”

The SeaMonitor project is “breaking the boundaries of research into the marine migration journey of the iconic Atlantic salmon”, said Loughs Agency chief executive Sharon McMahon.

“This innovative research will help to identify migratory routes and factors influencing salmon survival at sea, providing data to inform future research and decision making.”

The glider is part of the SeaMonitor integrated cross-jurisdiction major network of acoustic receivers, robotic underwater vehicles, satellite tracking and passive acoustic receivers in European waters and its use will be extended to track cetaceans, basking shark and skates as well as to collect physical oceanographic data.

When combined, the data will enable a holistic view of the regions mobile marine species and will prove invaluable to the regions managers, as well as establishing an integrated network of marine receivers for future applications and extended monitoring.

Match-funding for the project has been provided by Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs (DAERA) and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage in Ireland.

For more information about the project visit the Lough Agency’s SeaMonitor portal or follow the project on Twitter at @SeaMonitor1.

Published in Marine Science

Anglers in Ireland are taking part in a unique ‘catch, tag and release’ programme to help Irish and international scientists learn more about the largest tuna in the world — the Atlantic bluefin tuna.

Under the Tuna CHART (CatcH And Release Tagging) programme, recreational anglers on board 22 authorised charter vessels the successfully applied to join the scheme this year will catch bluefin tuna and skippers will be tagging and releasing them back into the sea, alive, from this month to mid November.

The data collected on board authorised vessels will then be used for scientific assessment to improve knowledge of population structures, fish size and how bluefin tuna is distributed in Irish waters and throughout the North Atlantic.

Migrating through North Atlantic waters, bluefin tuna frequent Irish coastal waters to feed. Bluefin is an iconic sports-angling species and can grow up to 1,500lbs (around 680kg).

Under strictly controlled conditions, 685 bluefin tuna were caught, tagged, measured and released through the Tuna CHART programme in 2020. All bluefin tuna were caught by anglers in Irish coastal waters and then tagged by skippers. The fish is always kept in the water to ensure correct handling and tagging.

The largest tuna tagged in Ireland in 2020 was 2.75 metres long, estimated to weigh over 800 lbs (approximately 360 kgs).

Now in its third year, Tuna CHART is a collaborative scientific programme between Inland Fisheries Ireland and the Marine Institute in partnership with the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Department for Environment, Climate and Communications.

Environment Minister Eamon Ryan said: “The 22 angling vessels authorised by my department will contribute substantially to essential Bluefin tuna data collection as they migrate along the Irish coastline.

“The recreational fisheries sector is crucial in the delivery of this data collection programme and we look forward to continue working with all the State agencies involved.

“I want to acknowledge the key role of the authorised charter skippers and their crews who are bringing their unique expertise to bear on providing valuable data for scientific purposes, and the ‘citizen scientist’ anglers who will catch the fish. The fact that 685 fish were tagged last year with no mortalities recorded is a great achievement by the skippers.”

‘This programme also provides our coastal communities with access to a highly desired angling market that will bring a new demographic of tourists to our spectacular Wild Atlantic Way’

Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue welcomed the continuation of the programme for 2021.

“As a Donegal man, I have a keen interest in the bluefin tuna data collection programme,” he said. “I am delighted at the ongoing success of this programme as it allows our scientific partners in the Marine Institute and Inland Fisheries Ireland to collect valuable data and improve our understanding of the migratory patterns of bluefin tuna in Irish waters in a tightly controlled environment.

“This programme also provides our coastal communities with access to a highly desired angling market that will bring a new demographic of tourists to our spectacular Wild Atlantic Way.

“I am particularly pleased with the large increase in data collected in 2020, despite the restriction in place as a result of Covid and am anticipating an even more successful season this year thanks to our experienced skippers who have received authorisations for 2021.”

This year’s authorised vessels will operate out of ports in Donegal (Killybegs and Bundoran), Sligo (Rosses Point and Mullaghmore), Galway (Cleggan and Rossaveal), Clare (Carrigaholt and Kilrush), Cork (Courtmacsherry, Kinsale, Ballycotton, Union Hall, Great Island in Cobh, Baltimore and Youghal) and Waterford (Dungarvan).

All skippers have been fully trained while vessels have been fitted with a customised GPS device. Data is collected by skippers digitally by means of a specifically designed app.

Anglers looking to fish for bluefin tuna in Irish waters may only do so from an authorised charter vessel from now until 12 November 2021. The Sea Fisheries Protection Authority and Inland Fisheries Ireland are undertaking inspections and patrols around the coast to ensure that no unauthorised vessels are targeting or catching bluefin tuna.

Both organisations have also confirmed that any person engaging in fishing for bluefin tuna on a vessel which is not appropriately authorised, would be in breach of the Sea-Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction (Bluefin Tuna) Regulations 2019 (SI No 265 of 2019) and would face prosecution.

Like last season, skippers will have to adhere to any local or national COVID-19 public health guidelines that may be put in place. A full list of authorised skippers and vessels for the Tuna CHART programme in 2021 can be found at www.fisheriesireland.ie/bluefin.

Published in Angling
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