Irish marine scientists may soon be able to access a range of European research vessels thanks to a new collaborative project involving 24 partners, research institutes and fleet managers from 16 member states.
The EUROFLEETS Project, which was launched recently (22nd to 24th September) at the Cite de Sciences et de l’Industrie in Paris, in the presence of Hervé Pero, of the European Commission and representatives of the French Minister of Higher Education and Research, is co-ordinated by IFREMER, the French marine research organisation and aims to develop the co-ordination within European research fleets. It will allow networking of European vessels, underwater vehicles and onboard equipment, the common technological development of software and innovative sensors and permissions for scientific teams from one EU country to work onboard the research vessel of another member state.
Welcoming the initiative, Marine Institute CEO Dr Peter Heffernan said that, “while satellites and remote monitoring can tell us a great deal about the ocean, research vessels and underwater vehicles remain essential to the acquisition of scientific information. The problem is that operating such vessels can represent up to 50% of the cost of research in marine science. This is why the co-ordination and sharing of ship time is so important for cost-effectiveness and why the Marine Institute is proud to represent Ireland in this initiative.”
OFEG (the Ocean Facilities Exchange Group) is already functioning within research vessel operators from six European countries (France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom). But the new EUROFLEETS Project will expand the number of participating countries to 16, improving networking activity, trans-national access to research vessels and encouraging joint research activity.
The project brings together institutes in the following countries in member states or associated countries: Belgium (2), Bulgaria (1), Estonia (1), France (2), Germany (3), Greece (3), Ireland (1), Italy (2), Netherlands (3), Norway (1), Poland (1), Portugal (2), Romania (1), Spain (2), United Kingdom (1), Turkey (1).