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Major research fund to tackle marine issues in Ireland

The first call under one of the largest marine research funding programmes in the history of the Irish State was launched on the 30th July by the Irish Marine Institute.

It invites suitably qualified scientists and industry experts to tackle a wide range of issues including; the building of new Irish industries in cod and seaweed farming, an assessment of Ireland’s capability to respond to a major pollution incident, and other issues relating to the sustainable development of Ireland’s 220 million acre marine resource.

The call, which is funded under the Marine Research Sub-Programme of the National Development Programme (NDP) 2007 – 2013, consists of 24 specifically targeted studies at industry, PhD and Post-doctoral level, including fisheries, fish farming, seaweed cultivation, marine environmental quality and marine data management.

Topics for the studies were identified during the formulation of the national programme Sea Change – A Marine Knowledge and Innovation Strategy for Ireland 2007 – 2013, which is managed by the Marine Institute on behalf of the State. Awards under the programme are given under two of the Sea Change Research Measures, Industry, and Policy Support. They are intended to build new research capacity and enhance capabilities in priority areas of marine and marine-related research in research institutions and private sector firms.

“Sea Change is a national plan, aimed at addressing our national capacity to utilise and derive value from our vast ocean resources,” said Dr. Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute. “We are very excited by the new opportunities this research programme will allow us to explore in partnership with key government departments and sister agencies in the public sector, the third level sector and key industrial stakeholders.”

The Industry measure, under which the majority of projects are being awarded, is specifically designed to improve the growth and competitiveness of the marine sector by adding value to services, products or processes. It will also influence or create new industrial and commercial opportunities for firms in the marine sector, and stimulate the application or use of scientific or technical knowledge and expertise to advance the competitiveness or environmental sustainability of marine businesses.

Linking directly with the objectives of the recent Cawley Report (Steering a New Course - Strategy for a Restructured, Sustainable and Profitable Irish Seafood Industry 2007 – 2013), the Sea Change programme proposes further research on cod farming. Other fisheries related projects involve; an investigation into the effects of rapid climate change on important commercial fish stocks, harnessing the knowledge of fishermen as part of the scientific process of stock assessment, and looking at ways of reducing the practice of “discarding” unwanted fish at sea. The programme also examines fish health and food safety, offshore fish farming, marine environmental quality and the management of large sets of marine data.

“Sea Change can be the vehicle to fund entirely new scientific activities, put new teams of scientists in place and unlock entirely new discoveries,” said Dr. Heffernan. “It follows the principle that Ireland must be a significant player in the knowledge economy, reaching further and further up the value chain in industry and service output.”

A special information day for potential applicants will be held at the Marine Institute’s headquarters at Oranmore, Co. Galway on the 10th September.

The closing date for receipt of applications is Wednesday 26th September, 2007. For further information on all the proposed studies, as well as details of the application procedure, please log on to:

John Joyce | alfa
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