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Baseline habitat and biodiversity information

Project Outputs

A very extensive data set exists in the Sea and Inland Fisheries Reports from the 1870s to 1987. In addition, data for the period 1900 to 1920 are available in the Fisheries Ireland Scientific Investigations series. These data include annual fish catches per port and gear type for about 100 years. They also contain details of native oyster beds, and other habitats listed on the Habitats Directives and the OSPAR list of Threatened and Declining Species. Other valuable datasets are inventories of benthic and pelagic species (fish, invertebrates and plankton) recorded in trawl surveys, plankton tows and other sampling exercises. These datasets could act as essential baseline information on the state of the Irish marine environment in the pre- or early exploitation era. These are being digitised and uploaded to the Marine Institute Open Access Repository now. This follows the lead of their agencies in Ireland having such valuable resources have now digitised them, for instance the Royal Irish Academy. 

The data would help us understand species distributions in the context of exploitation, pollution and climate change. They would also provide us with baseline information on the Irish marine environment in the pre-modern period. Such information could help provide baselines for MSFD purposes.

Total costs approximate to €50,000 per annum for one year. This would employ a library specialist and provide for purchase of necessary hardware (scanners) and software to account for page curvature and OCR.


This project will run in 2020 and 2021.

Project Outputs:
  1. Baseline data on fish populations from 1878 onwards.
  2. Baseline data on demersal and deepwater fish communities from early 20th century.
  3. Baseline data on benthic and pelagic habitats and communities.
Expected Benefit:
  1. Better appreciation of the pre-exploitation state of Ireland’s marine resource.
  2. Sea and Inland Fisheries Ireland Reports (1878-1987) available online to the researchers and the wider public through Library’s Open Access Repository (OAR).
  3. Disseminating results through the infographic and informatics to provide a resource to the research community, stakeholders and the general public.
  4. Improved development of MFSD thresholds, by having better baseline information available.
Further Information:
Contact Maurice Clarke at
Project Cost - Projected:
Project Status: