Marine Institute Welcomes Beaufort Awards to Marine Science Consortia

The Marine Institute today (19th September) welcomed the announcement of the Beaufort Marine Research Award winners – both as a major step to placing Ireland as a world-class player in marine science and as a pillar of the ongoing Sea Change national strategy for marine research, knowledge and innovation.  

The awards, which were named after the Irish hydrographer Francis Beaufort, were announced today by Minister Eamonn Ryan T.D., the Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources, and his colleague Mary Coughlan T.D., Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

They amount to some €20 million of carefully targeted funding that will create over 140 new positions for researchers and students working in five scientific consortia to address practical issues identified as part of the Sea Change programme and will be managed by the Marine Institute.  

“These awards represent a quantum leap towards the goals identified in the Sea Changeprogramme,” said Dr. Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute. “They will create strong teams of scientists to address such practical issues as the sustainable development of our fishing industry, the potential for new drugs, advanced biomaterials and neutraceuticals from marine animals and plants, and the effect of climate change on the abundance, distribution and genetic composition of major fish populations. At the same time, the funding they provide will allow Ireland to build the world-class capacity in science and innovation needed for the development of our marine sector as part of the knowledge economy and send a clear signal to the rest of the world that Ireland is now poised to be a major player in this area.”  

The Sea Change programme aims to position Ireland’s marine sector within a global knowledge-based economy and, as such, it is a vital element in supporting the national objective to achieve the €1.5 billion growth potential of the marine sector from its present €3 billion per annum to €4.5 billion per annum by 2013.  

Following the launch of Sea Change, EU Commissioner for Fisheries & Maritime Affairs Dr. Joe Borg said that “Ireland is constantly cited in global benchmarking studies as a model for best practice in innovation in the knowledge economy.”  


Notes to Editor  

The Beaufort Awards

The five groups awarded funding under the Beaufort Awards are as follows:  

  • Marine Socio-Economic Research – The Centre for Rural Transformation & Sustainability at NUI Galway Award: €2 million  
  • Marine Genetics Research – A consortium of research groups from University College, Cork and Queen’s University of Belfast Award: €3.7 million  
  • Marine Environmental Research – The National Centre for Sensor Research, Dublin City University Award: €2.4 million  
  • Marine Biodiscovery – A consortium of research groups from University College Cork, NUI Galway and Queen’s University of Belfast Award: €7.2 million  
  • Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management – A consortium of research groups from Queen’s University of Belfast, University College Cork and the Marine Institute. Award: €3.9 million  


Sea Change

Sea Change is a national team effort to apply research and innovation to Ireland’s marine sector, aimed at transforming it into a dynamic, market-led element of our knowledge economy over the next seven years. To do this Sea Change will develop new opportunities in areas such as sustainable energy, functional foods, transport, technology and environmental monitoring.  

The Sea Change plan was arrived at after a two-year planning and consultation process using the knowledge and expertise of the best national and international experts available. It looks ahead to the year 2020 in a series of carefully calculated future scenarios for Ireland, identifies market opportunities and presents costed action plans to achieve clearly defined goals for development.   These action plans include developing greater collaboration between industry and the research community as well as the building of multi-disciplinary teams, the development of new skills and a planned research measure to apply the knowledge gained to inform public policy, governance and regulation of the marine sector.  

The Sea Change programme aims to position Ireland’s marine sector within a global knowledge-based economy and, as such, it is a vital element in supporting the national objective to achieve the €1.5 billion growth potential of the marine sector from its present €3 billion per annum to €4.5 billion per annum by 2013.  

Francis Beaufort

Francis Beaufort, best known for inventing the Beaufort Wind Force Scale, was born on 17th May 1774 in County Meath.  He was the grandson of a Huguenot refugee and his father, Reverend Daniel Augustus Beaufort was the Rector of Navan. Francis Beaufort was born in his father’s Church of Ireland rectory and was virtually self educated, having left school at the age of thirteen to go to sea.  

From a position as cabin boy on a merchant ship of the British East India Company, he joined the British Navy as a midshipman and rose through the ranks rapidly from lieutenant, to commander and captain as a result of his courage and initiative in the Napoleonic Wars. Before he died, he had attained the rank of Rear Admiral.  

In 1829, at age 55 – which was the normal retirement age for most administrative positions at the time – Beaufort became the Hydrographer of the British Admiralty. He held this post for 25 years, longer than anyone before or since and, in that time converted what had been a minor chart repository into the finest surveying and charting institution in the world. Some of his excellent charts are still being used today, some 200 years after he created them. He was a council member of the Royal Society, the Royal Observatory and the Royal Geographic Society (which he helped found).  

The Beaufort Wind Scale

Invented in 1806, this method of measuring and recording wind speed and effects was formally adopted by the British Navy in 1838. Beaufort had always kept a meteorological journal, which contained short notes on the weather, a practise he maintained until the day he died - on 17th December 1857 at the age of eighty-three years in Hove, Sussex, England. While his name is remembered best for the Beaufort Wind Scale, but is also given to a number of marine discoveries including the Beaufort Sea (an arm of the Arctic Ocean), Beaufort Island in Antarctica and the Beaufort Inlet in the North Atlantic Ocean.  

The Marine Institute

The Marine Institute was created under the Marine Institute Act in 1991 to “undertake, to co-ordinate, to promote and to assist” in the development of marine research and development in Ireland. Since its early days in Harcourt Street Dublin, it has grown into an internationally respected science body with over 220 staff, two purpose-built vessels – RV Celtic Explorer and RV Celtic Voyager, a research facility near Newport, Co. Mayo and now a brand new headquarters and laboratory on the shores of Galway Bay.