Marine Institute to lead €14.5m Europe-wide project to facilitate marine and fresh water research

Aquatic Research Infrastructure Services for the health and protection of our unique, oceans, seas and freshwater ecosystems (AQUARIUS) The Marine Institute is set to lead a major €14.5m Europe-wide project to offer free access to state of the art research infrastructures across Europe to enable collaborative marine and fresh water research.

The 48-month project called Aquatic Research Infrastructure Services for the health and protection of our unique, oceans, seas and freshwater ecosystems (AQUARIUS) will provide a highly comprehensive suite of integrated research infrastructures appropriate to addressing significant challenges for the long-term sustainability of our oceans, seas and freshwater ecosystems.

For the first time, diverse research infrastructures will be combined in a single project to facilitate the work of researchers and key stakeholders focused on challenges and opportunities for both marine and freshwater systems. An impressive range of 57 research infrastructure services will be made available to include research vessels, mobile marine observation platforms, aircraft, drones, satellite, sensors, fixed freshwater and marine observatories and test sites, experimental facilities and sophisticated data service infrastructures. Activity will include training for third level students, with all data collected within the project fed into central European Data infrastructures to inform future policy and decision making at a European and National level.

Commenting on the launch of the project, Charlie McConalogue, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine said: “The AQUARIUS project, led by the Marine Institute, puts Ireland at the heart of the Marine Infrastructure ecosystem across Europe. The Project aims to address several key areas of the Programme for Government in particular Climate Governance and Adaptation. In addition, AQUARIUS will support the development phase of the EU Mission to Restore our Ocean and waters by 2030, the Sustainable Blue Economy Partnership, the European Green Deal, and international climate initiatives. It will also be an essential component in achieving the European Digital Twin of the Ocean and the UN Decade for Ocean Sciences.”

Dr Rick Officer, CEO of the Marine Institute added: “Leading this pan-European programme puts the Marine Institute and Ireland in a leadership role in the research infrastructure sector in Europe. These types of collaborative research initiatives are vital to enable researchers gather data which can inform policy and decision-making and in turn contribute to international marine management, conservation and policy.

The AQUARIUS project provides the ideal platform from which the Marine Institute can invest in, and optimise, our infrastructure, including vessels, laboratories, and other facilities and equipment; to improve the way we do our work and provide the national and international research community with access to state-of-the-art, technologically advanced infrastructure”.

Aodhán Fitzgerald, Research Vessel Operations Manager at the Marine Institute and AQUARIUS Project Coordinator said that the project will enable access to an unprecedented number and combination of Research Infrastructures.

"With a fleet of 18 state-of-the-art research vessels, aircraft and drones, as well as mobile and fixed operational platforms, this is an extremely exciting project for European and International marine and freshwater researchers as they now have opportunities to work together to access integrated infrastructures in the Baltic and the North Sea Basins, Black Sea, Atlantic/Arctic, and Mediterranean Sea along with their associated rivers.”

The project, funded under the HORIZON Europe Research & Innovation Action call for access to research infrastructures, will provide funded access to Marine Institute infrastructures RV Celtic Explorer, Smartbay Glider, Buoy and Observatory, the Data Buoy Network, Newport Catchment Research Facility and Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS), and Lehanagh Pool Marine Research Site, free of charge to European and International researchers, optimising use of Marine Institute facilities and raising their profile at a European level. It will also provide the opportunity to National Researchers to access other European state-of-the-art technologically advanced infrastructure facilities, thus broadening the knowledge and skill set across disciplines. 

The needs of researchers will be met through a robust and transparent system of transnational access funding calls, facilitated by a centralised user-friendly access portal. The Call programme will be informed through stakeholder engagement and brokerage events aligning with the EU Mission Restore our Ocean and Waters by 2030 Lighthouse Regions. AQUARIUS invites collaboration and engagement from researchers, industrial communities, citizen science groups, and SMEs through a highly focused outreach programme.












For more information, please contact:
Sinéad Coyne, Marine Institute e. m. +353 (0)87 947 7090
Sheila Byrnes, Marine Institute e. m. +353 (0)87 815 5271

Notes to Editor:

Marine Institute

The Marine Institute provides government, public agencies, and the maritime industry with a range of scientific, advisory, and economic development services that inform policy-making, regulation, and the sustainable management and growth of Ireland’s marine resources. The Institute undertakes, coordinates, and promotes marine research and development, which is essential to achieving a sustainable ocean economy, protecting ecosystems, and inspiring a shared understanding of the ocean.