Irish Marine Researchers Feature in EU 'Star Projects'

Friday, 2 October 2009

Two research projects led by NUI Galway scientists will be showcased by the European Commission at a press conference in Barcelona today (Friday, 2 October). The theme of the press conference is 'Oceans of Tomorrow: the Tara Oceans Expedition and Star Projects in EU Marine Research'. The briefing will feature EU funded marine research success stories and coincides with the arrival in Barcelona of the scientific exploration ship the Tara. The ship is on a three-year round the world mission to investigate climate change. At the event, the HABIT project on harmful algal bloom species will be presented by Dr Robin Raine of the Martin Ryan Institute at NUI Galway. Dr Anthony Grehan, a researcher with Earth and Ocean Sciences at NUI Galway, will introduce the CoralFISH project which is examining the management of corals, fish and fisheries in the deep-ocean. Dr Anthony Grehan led the deep-water expedition in May of this year which confirmed the existence of a major new coral reef province on the southern end of the Porcupine Bank off the west coast of Ireland. He believes that NUI Galway is making an important contribution to improving the sustainable management of marine resources in Europe through such projects. According to Dr Grehan: "Irish scientists have benefited enormously from participation in European funded projects in terms of access to large infrastructure and collaboration with leading European research teams". Also to be highlighted in Barcelona is a recently completed European research project carried out by an interdisciplinary consortium of marine scientists, lawyers and economists that included Drs. Anthony Grehan, Martin White and Ronán Long from NUI Galway. The HERMES project discovered new seafloor features and enhanced scientific knowledge of deep water coral reefs and canyons on the European continental margin and developed innovative science-policy exchange mechanisms. HERMES was recently selected by the European Commission as one of the top 40 projects from the entire European Union's Sixth Framework Programme for Research funded to the tune of €17.5 billion. NUI Galway's Dr Ronán Long, an international expert on the Law of the Sea, says: "The strength of exciting and innovative projects such as HERMES, HABIT and CoralFISH is that they place Irish researchers and students at the cutting-edge of European research on topics which touch every aspect of our lives such as marine environmental protection and the fight against climate change".
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