Marine Minister, Pat the Cope Gallagher, T.D., presented the Marine Institute AquaReg Award to three Coláiste Phobail Cholmcille students on Tory Island, Donegal today.
The transition year students, Gráinne Ní Dhubhchoin, Áine Bríd Nic Ruarí and Nóirín Ní Mhianáin scooped the Marine Institute Aquareg award for their examination of the socio-economic status of the Border, Midlands and West of Ireland (BMW region), Galicia in Spain and Trondelag in Norway.
Their project titled 'Ni Neart go cur le chéile' (Unity is Strength) highlighted the many similarities that exist between these three coastal areas stating, "All three region have the powerful Atlantic on the western flank and this has dictated to a large extent the quality of life, employment and indeed mindset of these coastal communities". They proposed that: "these peripheral regions need to co-operate and pool ideas if they are to sustain their populations by creating jobs".
The three Geography and Spanish students, have just returned from a tour of Galicia in northwest Spain, which was the prize for first place in the competition. During their trip they visited a state of the art Aquaculture Training College in Illa de Arousa; the mariscadores (women shellfish gatherers); and saw some of the many mussel rafts in nearby "Rias". They also had a guided tour of the Unesco World Heritage site of Santiago de Compostela.
Congratulating the students on their work Minister Gallagher said: "I am delighted to present this award to three students from my own constituency. It is a testament to the hard work and commitment they devoted to the project and to the initiative they showed in researching the issue. I would also like to praise their teachers, fellow students and all those who encouraged and supported them through in their work."
The competition, which was open to all transition year students in the BMW region, was run as part of the AquaReg project - a partnership between the BMW region, Galicia and Trondelag. The objective of AquaReg is to provide opportunities and promote strategies for sustainable development of peripheral coastal communities by promotion of interregional co-operation in aquaculture and fisheries. The programme aims to promote awareness of aquaculture and fisheries in each region through regional exchanges.
Second prize in the competition went to Lorretto College Cavan students, Hannah Brady, Eilis Fox and Olive Lynch for their project 'Fish Tales from the West', which examined the aquaculture and fisheries industries in the three regions on the Atlantic Coast.
Research programmes funded by AquaReg include lobster restocking, use of seaweed as bio-filters on fish and shellfish farms, and Sea Wo-Men, a project involving Mná na Mara representing women from rural coastal communities around Ireland, joining forces with their counterparts in Spain and Norway are to ensure their contribution to rural coastal economies is recognised and further developed.
Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LIT) is involved in a project to develop a new packaging technique to extend the shelf-life of mussels and expand national and transnational markets. The Food Science Department at LIT is working with CETMAR (Technological Centre for the Sea) and CSIC (Institute of Marine Research) both in Galicia.
For more information on AquReg projects visit www.aquareg.com.