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Ongoing

Appropriate Assessment of Aquaculture Activities in SACs (2019-2020)

As identified, the aquaculture industry is an important economic activity on all coasts of Ireland. The inshore aquaculture industry produces a variety of shellfish as well as salmon and trout. A significant proportion of the activity occurs within, or proximate to, Natura 2000 sites which are environmentally designated areas under the EU Habitats and Birds Directives.

Assessment of fisheries/habitat interaction on offshore reefs: SeaRover Phase 2

Consistent with sub-article 6.2 of the Habitats Directive (EC 92/43/EEC), which requires member states to take measures to avoid deterioration of protected habitats, Ireland will undertake a further mapping survey of offshore reefs in 2019 to evaluate status and introduce conservation and management measures in proportion to status and pressures from fishing. This study has been identified as highest priority by DAHG for the marine environment and is based on a letter by DAHCG to DAFM (attached).

Assessment of Species Catch Composition in Fisheries Posing a Risk to Biodiversity Phase 2

The estimation of bycatch of protected, endangered and threatened species (PET) in commercial fisheries and its sustainability assessment is an important consideration in the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy, the Marine Strategy Framework directive (Descriptor 1) and the Habitats and Bird’s directives.

Bluefin tuna in Irish coastal waters

This project aims to set up a monitoring programme to increase our knowledge of bluefin tuna migrations with special reference to their residency in Irish coastal waters and specific use of these habitats, reasons for their presence after more than a decade of near absence up to 2015 and establish whether they are likely to remain as persistent migrants in coming years. This project will contribute to the National reporting obligations for management of large pelagic fish species in Irish waters and to assess MSFD and OSPAR indicators for exploited deep-water species.

Climate Change and Carbon project

Carbon is an integral component of marine ecosystems and key living resources in the ocean are profoundly affected by changes in the uptake of CO2 by the ocean, which is the key driver of ocean acidification. Measurements of carbon in Irish waters have been conducted in recent years with CO2 monitoring using sensors and sample collection aboard the two Irish research vessels and at a fixed station in Co. Galway (Mace Head).

Climate Change and Ecosystem Modelling

This project aims to develop a climate and ecosystem modelling capability to underpin decisions at national level in climate adaptation, initially for the seafood sector with potential applicability in other sectors e.g. biodiversity, flooding, built heritage. By assessing and piloting 3 promising ocean biogeochemistry models in the Celtic Sea, simulations of changes in ocean physics, biology and chemistry over a 30 - 50 year timescale will be generated to inform the policy response and adaptation to climate change.

Climate Change and zooplankton project

Systematic collection of zooplankton in Irish waters is not implemented despite such plankton being a key food source for commercial fish stocks. Ireland is reliant on ad-hoc zooplankton studies that have taken place in academic institutes and on data collection through the continuous plankton recorder which bypasses large areas of Irish waters. This project aims to devise a strategy to augment and systematically collect zooplankton in our waters to elucidate trends and constrain ecosystem models that will provide support to policies related to climate adaptation in the seafood sector.

Development of Methodologies for Assessment of Ireland’s Seaweed Resource

Through the on-going marine planning process, the Irish Government identified that the sustainability of seaweed natural resources underpins the licensing regime for seaweed harvesting. The aim of this project is to develop a better understanding of the Irish seaweed resource around the Irish coastline, which will contribute to a biomass assessment for certain types of seaweed.
Ascophyllum Nodosum is the primary species harvested. It grows on rocky surfaces near the seashore and is harvested by hand at low tide. Small amounts of other species are also harvested.

Development of methods for characterisation and conservation assessment of Inshore Reef Habitats

The definition of marine habitats as ordinated biological community complexes can allow variations in structure and prevalence of species to be used to show change that may be linked to environmental pressures. To date, the inshore intertidal and subtidal reef has not been the subject of the same degree of focused surveys as the offshore. As a result, Ireland’s knowledge of the communities that occur here is qualitative and patchy.

Fish species occurrence and food-web dynamics in a coastal lagoon

This project will establish a fish species list, including the marine and diadromous species, study their diet and establish the relative energy inputs (Carbon and Nitrogen) from both freshwater and marine sources. The project will provide baseline information on a vulnerable habitat (coastal lagoon) classified as an Annex I priority habitat (“in danger of disappearance”) under the EU Habitats Directive (EU, 1992). Also relevant to Descriptor 1 in the MFSD, setting a baseline for species and habitats identified under national and international legislation, such as the Clew Bay Complex SAC.

Multidisciplinary Digital Aerial Mapping of the Marine Coastal Environment

There are a number of data gaps on the marine coastal environment which limits Ireland’s capacity to report to various EU Directives such as the Habitats and Birds Directives, MSFD and MSP.  These include the monitoring and assessment of coastal habitats and wildlife populations and assessing the effects of human activities on these features. Furthermore these ecological and landscape features are difficult to access and assess using traditional ground based survey methods.

National Sediment Sampling and Seabed Imagery Catalogue

The aim of this project is to develop an integrated national sediment sampling and seabed imagery catalogue. It will provide a ‘signpost’ to the multiple sources of seabed data. The integration of this information will be vital to support the National marine planning process, in terms of habitat mapping, climate change assessment, resource assessment (e.g. aggregates) and invasive species incidence.

Seabed sediment and ecosystem data collection in support of MSFD, Natura and Habitat mapping

This proposes to conduct intense sediment sampling and environmental data collection surveys on areas of interest in coastal waters to develop high resolution sediment and habitat maps. Knowledge of offshore and coastal seabed sediment characteristics enable marine spatial planning decisions and contribute to fisheries resource management, aquaculture site selection, habitat mapping, conservation objectives and reporting under various environmental legislation including the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

Synthesis and development of advisory products: SeaRover Phase 3

The EMFF Offshore Reef project, SeaRover (Sensitive ecosystem Assessment & ROV Exploration of Reef) was a three-year project (2017-2019). Project objectives were to map offshore reef habitats with a view to protecting them from deterioration due to fishing pressures.This project will synthesise the output of all three surveys and, in consultation with the most important end-users, map out how the data should be disseminated, analysed and developed into products and tools used for policy support.

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