Twelve transition students from all over the country set sail from Cork this morning (October 13th) on a half-day training mission aboard the national research vessel RV Celtic Voyager. The mission, entitled “Voyage of Discovery” is part of a joint initiative—the Integrated Marine Exploration Programme (IMEP)—between the Marine Institute, the Higher Education Authority (HEA) and the national Strategy for Science Technology and Innovation (SSTI).
While at sea, the students were trained in the use of ocean mapping systems, water sampling gear, scientific fishing techniques and methods of sampling the seabed for ecological and environmental studies. They were also given a tour of the ship and detailed briefings on safety and sea survival. Similar missions will take place tomorrow (14th October).
“I think all of us in the Marine Institute can remember the moment when we made our minds up to pursue a career in marine science,” said Dr Pauhla McGrane, co-ordinator of the IMEP. “Hopefully today and tomorrow, at least one of the transition year students we have aboard will make that choice and go on to be one of the Jacques (or Jacqueline) Cousteaus of the future.”
Funding for the shiptime component of the IMEP was launched in March of this year by the then Ministers of Education and Science Mary Hanafin TD and Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mary Coughlan TD. The IMEP supports training courses and integrated research surveys aboard the national research vessels Celtic Explorer and Celtic Voyager, giving Irish students and researchers significantly more time at sea. The initiative is supported under the Infrastructure Support Measure of Sea Change – A Marine Knowledge, Research and Innovation Strategy for Ireland 2007-2013. Its primary aim is to increase Ireland’s research capacity in marine science and supports the overall government strategy for promoting the education of science in schools under the SSTI.
The Marine Institute is the national agency responsible for marine research, technology, development and innovation. The Higher Education Authority is the independent statutory body charged with advising Government on higher education policy and for funding our universities and third level colleges.
Full details of future missions on the Integrated Maritime Exploration Programme can be obtained from the Marine Institute’s web site at www.marine.ie.