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Marine Science



Strengthening sustainable fisheries, aquaculture and ocean management. The Marine Institute will be exhibiting at the Irish Skipper Expo on the 23rd and 24th February 2024 at the University of Limerick. The Institute will exhibit at two stands; one on shellfish fisheries assessment and advice and a second on the EMFAF (European Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund) Marine Biodiversity and Marine Knowledge Schemes.

The Shellfish team will present the work it carries out on data collection, assessment and advice on shellfish species. The newly published Shellfish Stocks and Fisheries Review for 2023 will be available both in hard copy and online where data are reported for all major shellfish species that the inshore fishing fleet rely on. Its online equivalent, the Shellfish Fisheries App, will be launched providing online access to shellfish surveys and assessments undertaken by the Shellfish team in the Marine Institute. The industry provides much of the data going into the shellfish assessments and it is an opportunity for both parties to discuss inputs and outputs from this important programme for the inshore fishing fleet in Ireland. In addition to all issues relating to commercially fished shellfish around the Irish coast, the Marine Institute will be on hand to talk about the current inshore Vessel Monitoring System (iVMS), the Skipper Self-Sampling programme (currently out for tender) and the ICeco (Irish Coastal Ecosystem) survey. The self-sampling programme is an opportunity for skippers to get involved and be paid for reporting of data on crab and lobster fisheries to the Marine Institute.

The EMFAF Marine Biodiversity and Marine Knowledge Scheme team will attend the Irish Skipper Expo to showcase to industry and stakeholders the priorities being implemented under these schemes. These include contributing to the protection and restoration of aquatic biodiversity and strengthening sustainable sea and ocean management. Marine Institute staff will be available to provide information on the implementation of the EMFAF Operational Programmes and the projects funded and implemented by the Marine Institute.

The EMFAF legal framework partly funds work to underpin European and national policies. The objective of the Marine Biodiversity Scheme is to support the identification and monitoring of the impact of fishing/aquaculture activities on the marine environments and for the benefit of the fishing and aquaculture industries as a whole. It also supports the conservation and restoration of marine biodiversity and ecosystems. These objectives align closely to European Directives, Common fisheries policy, compliance with the Birds and Habitats Directives and the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive, which in turn supports Ireland’s obligations to OSPAR,  Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic.

Speaking about the Marine Biodiversity Scheme, Director of Fisheries Ciaran Kelly said:

“In order for seafood production to be sustainable it is important that not only is the resource carefully managed, but the impacts of harvesting that resource on the wider ecosystem are also considered. The Biodiversity scheme under Irelands EMFAF programme, helps provide the science and evidence basis to support a sustainable seafood production programme that also protects and restores marine biodiversity.”

The Marine Knowledge Scheme aims to enable the collection, management, analysis, processing and use of marine data to improve the knowledge on the state of the marine environment and inform a sustainable blue economy.  An important goal is to contribute to the achievement of climate change objectives. The scheme will improve understanding of impacts of climate change on marine activities and on the environment.

EMFAF has many projects underway at the moment under both schemes, including the assessment of the crayfish fishery to restore the crayfish stocks and protect critically endangered species. This work programme seeks to reduce the by-catch of endangered species, and the interaction between net fisheries and wildlife (seals, porpoise, dolphin) and contributing to restoration of crayfish stocks so that pot fishing becomes viable. The data and digital services programme enables the collection and analysis of marine data covering the full breadth of marine activities and ensuring we can deliver on national obligations relating to Marine Spatial Planning, Marine Environment, fisheries data, marine renewable energy and Climate. Climate projects being implemented are contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation in fisheries and aquaculture. This will help to deliver on Ireland’s Climate Action Plan 2023. The focus of these includes the highly skilled areas of remote sensing and climate change projections. It means that government and other stakeholders have a solid evidence base available to formulate decisions.

The EMFAF Marine Biodiversity and Marine Knowledge Schemes are co-funded by the Irish Government and the European Maritime Fisheries & Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) 2021-2027. The Marine Biodiversity and Marine Knowledge Schemes are established under Priority 1 (Sustainable Fisheries) and Priority 2 (Sustainable Aquaculture) and Priority 4 (Strengthen Ocean Governance) of Ireland’s Operational Programme (OP) under the EMFAF.

Priority 1 Sustainable Fisheries Projects to date


Priority 2 Sustainable Aquaculture Projects to date


Priority 4 Strengthen Ocean Governance projects to date