The Marine Institute monitors phytoplankton under a national programme which has been in place since the 1980s. During this period, phytoplankton scientists have developed an understanding of phytoplankton populations and dynamics around the Irish coastline, especially in relation to those that cause shellfish toxicity. Particular emphasis is put on harmful species; however the importance of phytoplankton as an indicator of water quality is also studied and is a key component of the Water Framework Directive.
Local Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority Sea fishery officers or other assigned personnel take samples from designated sampling areas. These are sent to the Marine Institute labs (either Bantry or Galway) where analysis is carried out. The presence of harmful or toxic species are then reported on the Marine Institute website. Staff in each of these regional labs are highly trained in phytoplankton identification and ecology, and the programme is one of the few worldwide to carry ISO 17025 Quality accreditation.
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