The Marine Institute is governed by the terms of the Marine Institute Act 1991 and amended in the Fisheries (Amendment) Act 1999 to:
" . . . undertake, to co-ordinate, to promote and to assist in marine research and development and to provide such services related to marine research and development, that in the opinion of the Institute will promote economic development and create employment and protect the marine environment . . ."
and is broadly responsible for:
Advising Government on policy relating to marine research and development
Carrying out policy on marine research and development
Undertaking, developing, promoting and marketing marine research and development services
Evaluating and advising Government on proposals for marine research and development requiring funding from the Exchequer
Promoting and assisting the development of Irish shipping and shipping services and seafarer training
In particular, the Marine Institute is responsible for the provision of a range of statutory services related to marine research development, environmental monitoring, food safety and natural resource protection consistent with the Marine Institute Act and with other Irish and EU legislation.
Provision of scientific information on the commercial fish stocks around Ireland as per the EU Fisheries Data Collection Directive (EU Council Regulation 1543/2001). This work programme consists of 'at sea' collection of discard data, collection of length and age-based data from landings of Irish and foreign vessels into Irish ports and conducting scientific surveys and biological studies. These data are used for the provision of scientific advice that support the Common Fisheries Policy.
The Institute also provides Irish scientific input by participation in over 15 International Working Groups that conduct scientific assessments on fish stocks. These meetings are hosted by the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES). In addition, the Institute provides scientific advice on the state of 32 commercially exploited fish stocks of interest to Ireland, which is available through the annual Stock Book, both in hard copy and on CD. The Institute represents its parent Department and Ireland at scientific meetings and fora, provides scientific and policy advice on world fisheries issues and participates in EU meetings, including the Council of Fisheries Ministers meeting in December of each year.
The Institute chairs and provides members of the Marine Licences Vetting Committee of the Deparment of Agriculture Fisheries and Food, which vets applications under the Foreshore Acts, 1993 - 2009; provides advice to the EPA on applications for permits under the Dumping at Sea Acts, 1996 - 2009; and to the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Food for aquaculture licences under the Fisheries Acts 1959 - 2007.
It also provides senior staff as members of the Aquaculture Licences Advisory Committee, reviews benthic impact reports from fish farms and provides analysis and interpretation of water column monitoring around fish farms, as well as advice and assistance on matters relating to the the preparation of management plans for marine Special Areas of Conservation by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). It also carries out the national sea lice monitoring programme on fish farms.
The Institute undertakes assessments on the potential impacts of emerging marine sectors (e.g. offshore wind turbines) as well as advice on the sustainable management of existing resources, such as the seed mussel and bottom mussel sectors.
Biotoxins - As the National Reference Laboratory (NRL) for Marine Biotoxins (under Council Decision 93/383/EEC) the Institute is responsible for wide range of tasks in this area, including the National Bio-toxin Monitoring Programme - a collaboration between industry, the Sea Fisheries Protection Agency and the Marine Institute.
Shellfish Microbiology - The Marine Institute is also the National Reference Laboratory for monitoring bacteriological and viral contamination of bivalve molluscs (under Council Decision 99/313/EC) and is responsible for co-ordinating the activities of the national laboratories responsible for viral and bacteriological analysis of bivalve molluscs, assisting its parent Department and the Sea Fisheries Protection Agency (SFPA) to organise a monitoring system for viral and bacteriological contamination of bivalve molluscs and organising comparative tests between these laboratories, disseminating information provided by the Community Reference Laboratory.
The Institute monitors the quality of shellfish growing waters, to ensure compliance of designated waters with the terms of the EU Directive 79/923.
As the National Reference Laboratory for Residues in Aquaculture Fish, the Institute collaborates with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (DAFF), the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) and the Sea Fisheries Protection Agency (SFPA) on the implementation of the National Residues Monitoring Plan as required under EU Residues Directive 96/23. (The Institute is the Competent Authority for residue sampling and analysis).
This involves the monitoring of Irish fish and shellfish for the presence of contaminants and trace metals, as required under the EU Directive and reports regularly to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
It also screens salmonids for the presence of anti-microbial residues under EU Directive 96/23/EC and reports to the Department, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland and the EU Commission by 23rd March in each year.
The Institute's Fish Health Unit (FHU) monitors the health of all stocks of farmed fish and shellfish within the country and is now the Competent Authority in this regard, working with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, and the European Commission in the transposition and implementation of the Fish Health Directive, 2006/88/EC.
Marine Institute staff visit all freshwater and marine finfish sites in Ireland and aim to examine a total of 3,000 finfish and 2,000 shellfish samples each year for a range of listed diseases. All marine sites are visited once a year, and results reported to the EU Commission annually.
Other work includes the carrying out of epidemiological studies on listed diseases, provision of updates on fish health issues to the EU Commission, development of new techniques for the detection of fish diseases, provision of statutory advice to the Department on fish movements, veterinary medicines and fish health advice on aquaculture applications as required.
The Institute provides, upon request, advice on fish passage through dams and other obstructions as well as on the environmental impacts of a range of developments in the form of verbal advice, reports and copies of relevant scientific papers.
The Marine Institute's activities, in relation to research, fall into three main categories - Research Promotor/Coordinator, Research Performer and Research Funder. The Marine Institute identifies and updates marine research and development priorities and gap areas on an on-going basis. This includes the preparation of a National Marine RTDI Strategy every five years, via an agreed process of consultation with its parent Department, other relevant government agencies and departments, industry, third-level institutes and other interested parties.
The national research vessels RV Celtic Explorer and RV Celtic Voyager are available for charter to those interested in undertaking research or survey work at sea. Details of rates can be found by following this link. Interested parties should contact our Research Vessel Operations team for further information.
The Institute also provides support, scientific and technical advice to the Department in relation to the Interdepartmental Committee on Science and Technology, leads and coordinates the implementation of Sea Change - National Marine R&D Strategy 2007-2013 and participates in collaboration initiatives to streamline the delivery of information and advice to external clients via the web.