Sea Change Research providing vital marine knowledge

The Beaufort Marine Awards Principle Investigators Prof. Tom Cross, Dr. Stephen Hynes, Prof. Dave Reid, Prof. Fiona Regan and Prof. Alan Dobson at the Sea Change Researchers Workshop at the Marine Institute as part of SeaFest 2016.Galway, 30 June 2016: Ireland's blue economy has been performing strongly in recent years with excellent growth in the marine sector. While driving innovation and technology advances in the maritime industry, the government has also invested in the Sea Change Research strategy to build capacity, support innovation and ensure the quality of our marine environment. Today (Thursday) at the Marine Institute, a number of Sea Change research projects, supported by the framework strategy A Marine Knowledge: Research and Innovation Strategy 2007-2013, highlighted important achievements made by this investment .

Speaking from the Sea Change Researchers Workshop, Ciarán Kelly, Manager of the Office of Research & Development at the Marine Institute said, "Funded research across all areas, from fisheries and aquaculture to marine environment and seafood health, demonstrates the government's commitment to developing Ireland's blue economy while also valuing the quality of our marine environment. This Sea Change Research provides vital keys to unlocking our blue economy potential, while ensuring the quality and sustainability of the marine environment."

Over the last 6 years, there has been an investment of more than €60 million in Sea Change Research, which has funded hundreds of projects, study programmes and research scholarships for the marine sector. The Ecosystem approach to the management of fishery resources and the detection and testing of shellfish for toxicity Azasparicids were among the research projects presented. Research on ocean acidification and the genetics of wild salmon populations represent important research funded though the Sea Change programme. A visual display of Sea Change projects showcased the variety and scale of projects funded, and a number of the Sea Change projects will be recognised by the Marine Awards which will be held this evening (Thursday).

"The Sea Change research strategy also outlined the importance of developing skills and research capacity in the marine sector, and to this end, a number of research doctorates, scholarships and education programmes were also funded," added Dr Kelly.

This investment has significantly improved marine research capacity in Ireland. The Sea Change programme of research has strengthened Ireland's competitiveness in marine research and innovation and has supported the sustainability of the marine sector by developing greater alignment between the needs of industry and the research capacity of the public sector and the third level. This multidisciplinary research capacity can be applied to marine-related activities, leading to the acquisition of new technical skills, improved flow of expert personnel between the research community and industry and the creation of new commercial opportunities. A new National Marine Research and Innovation Strategy is being developed which will map the current state of research and innovation underpinning Ireland's blue growth potential. This new National Marine Research and Innovation Strategy to be published later in 2016, will identify the maturity and capacity of research areas and will be an aid to help focus future investment.