Let’s talk about Ocean Science

The Marine Institute holds Research Symposium

 Seventy researchers from across the Marine Institute gathered to present their work at the Institute's first Research Symposium.Since when is a smartphone a key tool for Ireland’s fishermen? The development of an app to help fishermen target areas where they can catch fish for which they have quota and to avoid fish for which they don’t, is just one of the innovations being developed by researchers at the Marine Institute. The research, presented by Dr Julia Calderwood, is part of the EU-funded DiscardLess project, helping to ensure that the discarding of non-quota fish catches is phased out under the EU Common Fisheries Policy.

This is just one of many interesting pieces of research that were presented at the Marine Institute’s Research Symposium on Thursday 24th October 2019. Seventy researchers from across the Institute, gathered to present their work, to brainstorm, and to identify ways to work better together. Researchers presented short overviews on their work and there were question and answer sessions on the research itself and on the future direction of research at the Marine Institute. There was also a poster session giving further overviews of research work at the Marine Institute.

Two things became clear as the scientists presented and discussed their work: firstly, the research being done at the institute is delivering knowledge and solutions to many of the complex problems we face in sustainably managing our oceans and our marine resources; and secondly, that talking to each other is important. The initiative to try to integrate better research across areas such as fisheries science, climate change, oceanography, fish health, seafood safety and ocean chemistry is a critical goal of the Institute’s strategy, Building Ocean Knowledge, Delivering Ocean Services.

The Research Symposium featured presentations from Principal Investigators to PhD students on research projects that support important policy areas for Government. The outputs from a project tracking the migration patterns of blue fin tuna, for example, support key policy areas for the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine. The fate, impact and new approaches to persistent pollutants in the marine environment were also addressed and the outputs of this work support key policy areas for the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.

Research that supports the seafood sector was also addressed with food safety issues around marine biotoxins being presented. Research into the genetic basis for natural starvation in wild Atlantic Salmon was presented which will, through manipulation of diet and temperature, help to reduce the time taken for farmed fish to reach a stage of maturity where they can go out to sea cages, thus reducing grow-out time and costs for the salmon farmer.

Research and Innovation is a key component of the Marine Institute's Strategic Plan (2018 – 2022), and is aligned to the provision of scientific advice and services. The projects presented at the symposium clearly show this alignment and support.

Dr Paul Connolly, CEO of the Marine Institute explained the thinking behind the Research Symposium, “The Marine Institute provides essential scientific evidence and advice to Government and to stakeholders to ensure that we are sustainably managing our marine resources and our extensive maritime territory, which is about ten times the size of our landmass. Our research is central to providing the knowledge we need to inform policy and to address challenges such as climate change and ocean pollution while helping to build sustainable maritime sectors such as aquaculture, ocean renewable energy and marine and coastal tourism.”

The Marine Institute Research Symposium will be an annual event and will form part of the efforts being made to deliver knowledge and services that are safeguarding our ocean resources and supporting a healthy and sustainable ocean economy in Ireland.