€2.5m grant-aid to promote innovation in aquaculture

SME-led research to explore cultivation of 'new species'

Frank Fahey, Minister of Labour Affairs, launches AquaReg, a €2.5 million initiative to support aquaculture projects in peripheral coastal communities of Ireland, Spain and Norway.

AquaReg is a new partnership between the Border Midlands Western (BMW) Region of Ireland, Galicia in Spain, and Trøndelag in Norway. It tackles key issues for the sustainable development of the aquaculture industry such as research into the cultivation of new species, education and training for the aquaculture industry and improved coastal zone planning and management.

The AquaReg programme addresses the need to reach beyond volume expansion of the aquaculture industry by identifying opportunities for science–based diversification and innovation.   It promotes education and training, exchange of personnel, students and researchers; and increased workforce mobility between European coastal regions. It also addresses the need for integrated spatial planning and management of the coastal zone and aims to create a basis for a biologically and commercially sustainable industry through exchange of experience and best practice between planning authorities at local and regional level. 

AquaReg, which will be administered in Ireland by the Marine Institute, was established to promote innovation and business development; stimulate sustainable development in aquaculture; and create employment in aquaculture for peripheral coastal communities. Working in partnership, representatives from these three regions aim to make more efficient use of the experience and knowledge of aquaculturists, fishermen and scientists, across regional and national borders.

"This is a welcome boost for the aquaculture industry in Ireland. AquaReg demonstrates how countries and communities who have similar interests can benefit from working together," said Minister Fahey. "It offers a unique opportunity for aquaculturists in Ireland' s BMW region, Galicia and Trøndelag to exchange knowledge and experience with each other. Partners will also benefit from close collaboration and R&D support form research institutes and universities in these regions". 

The Marine Institute is actively seeking proposals from Irish aquaculture operators with research and education institutes and operators in the partner regions under three categories – AquaLink (SME led research projects); AquaEd (Recruitment and training); AquaPlan (Integrated spatial planning and coastal zone management). 

Mr. Alan Drumm, Marine Institute, said "The establishment of AquaReg clearly demonstrates how important aquaculture is to the economy of BMW region of Ireland and we hope there will be an immediate uptake for this programme from Aquaculture operators.  It provides an opportunity for aquaculture operators to move forward and further develop the industry."

"Galicia, BMW and Trøndelag have strong marine research environments, and there is enormous potential to exploit 'new species' and new seafood to meet the demands in the global market and we look forward to seeing the Aquaculture industry reap the benefits from this programme." 

The Marine Institute will work closely with the National University of Ireland, Galway, the Irish Farmers Association, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology and the relevant county councils.   

For information on eligible projects and how to apply for funding under AquaReg, contact Alan Drumm, Marine Institute by telephone 098 42300 or email alan.drumm@marine.ie