Staying One Step Ahead of Disaster

Staying One Step Ahead of Disaster-image

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Ireland is now part of an academic network which hopes to improve disaster preparedness in cities worldwide. NUI Galway’s experts have joined with 67 other universities in efforts to increase society’s resilience to natural and man-made disasters. The project, called ANDROID (Academic Network for Disaster Resilience to Optimise Educational Development), aims to promote co-operation and innovation among European higher education institutions to increase society’s resilience to disasters of human and natural origin – such as earthquakes or the damage caused by ongoing wars. ANDROID, supported by an EU grant worth €800,000, will run for three years and is led by University of Salford’s Centre for Disaster Resilience, based in the UK. So far a consortium of partners from 64 European higher education institutions has embarked on the project, joined by three institutions from Australia, Canada and Sri-Lanka. Alexandra Revez from the School of Geography and Archaeology and the Institute for Business, Social Sciences and Public Policy at NUI Galway, whose current research looks at flooding issues in Ireland, explains: “We need to stay one step ahead of disaster, and be prepared for all kinds of eventualities. In the case of earthquakes, this might involve strict building regulations, in the case of flash flooding this might involve public preparedness.” Over three years, the consortium partners will describe, analyse and compare the capacity of European cities and higher education institutions to address disaster risk. ANDROID will provide the link between the research and the public, helping to reinforce the connection between education and society. “There is now recognition of the need for collaboration on a large scale that involves a plurality of actors. ANDROID is based on an inter-disciplinary consortium of partners that comprises scientists from applied human, social and natural disciplines. Addressing disaster risk is an endless or continuous process that cannot stop,” said Professor Amaratunga from the Centre for Disaster Resilience. The project was inspired by the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) 'Making Cities Resilient' campaign. The campaign advocates widespread commitment by local governments to build resilience to disasters, increase national government support to cities to strengthen local capacities and to develop global goals that are applicable for all cities. The next phase of ANDROID will involve using all the data collected by the consortium partners to create laws and other practical measures to build resilience. The Institute for Business, Social Sciences and Public Policy at NUI Galway is the largest national multi-disciplinary research hub focused on building an internationally-recognised programme of research-led impacts, as well as activity contributing to public policy debates and contemporary societal issues facing Ireland and Europe. The Institute fosters a culture of research excellence by bringing together scholastic strengths from the College of Business, Public Policy and Law and the College of Arts, Social Science and Celtic Studies at NUI Galway, and also facilitates, supports and enhances existing and emerging collaborative research interactions nationally and internationally. For more information, please visit -ends-

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Launch of Ryan Institute GIS Centre at NUI Galway

Launch of Ryan Institute GIS Centre at NUI Galway-image

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

NUI Galway’s Registrar and Deputy President, Professor Nollaig Mac Congáil, officially launched the GIS Centre in the Ryan Institute this week. This event took place as part of the new international conference of 2012 Sino-European Symposium on Environment and Health (SESEH 2012) in the Bailey Allen Hall. ‘GIS’, Geographical Information System and/or Science, covers both technology and a rapidly growing science. It is used for analysing spatial data in many sectors of society, ranging from economics, government, business, and environmental management. The most popular applications of GIS in society are Google Earth and GPS navigation systems. Dr Chaosheng Zhang, Head of the GIS Centre at NUI Galway, said: “This is a milestone for the University. We have received wide support from all colleges of the University and I am confident that the GIS Centre will grow quickly.” Director of NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute, Professor Colin Brown, congratulated Dr Zhang on the organisation of SESEH and his assistance in establishing the GIS Centre. “The GIS Centre is already beginning to affect the way our researchers collaborate across a wide range of topic areas. We have developed an expertise that allows us to provide practical training courses for our researchers and any clients, inside or outside NUI Galway, with an interest in GIS.” The launch of the GIS Centre was sponsored by Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSi) Ireland’s National Mapping Agency and Supermap, a leading GIS company from China. As part of the GIS Centre launch NUI Galway launched its new MapGenie web map service, an exciting new online service from OSi which gives online access to mapping and imagery. Geraldine Ruane, OSiCEO, said: “OSi congratulates NUI Galway and the Ryan Institute on the launch of their GIS Centre and for taking the initiative as the first university to provide OSi’s MapGenie service to its students and staff. Using mapping in this way allows for better decision making and ultimately cost-savings. Using OSi’s MapGenie service in projects or research can provide better efficiencies and lead to more effective results.” -ENDS-

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Hamilton Prize Winner goes to Harvard

Hamilton Prize Winner goes to Harvard-image

Friday, 24 August 2012

NUI Galway graduate and 2011 Hamilton Prize winner, Fionnuala Connolly, is about to embark on a PhD in Engineering and Applied Sciences in Harvard University. Having recently completed a Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics at NUI Galway, Fionnuala, from Knocknacarra, Galway City has been offered a full scholarship as well as a Pierce Fellowship which is awarded to the top 5% of graduate students. "We are thrilled for Fionnuala and her success in applying to the best graduate schools abroad", says Professor Michel Destrade, Head of Applied Mathematics at NUI Galway. “It is a testimony to her remarkable academic achievements so far, and also to the excellent reputation of Irish Applied Mathematics. We are sorry to see her leave Galway, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity which cannot be turned down.” Dr Ray Ryan, Head of the School of Mathematics at NUI Galway, said: “The Hamilton Prize is awarded each year to the third-year student who is best in mathematical sciences at NUI Galway. It has gone to students majoring in Pure Maths, Applied Maths, and Financial Maths. Its prestige is undeniable, and we encourage all students to strive in mathematical subjects and aim for it. Fionnuala has been an outstanding student – she has attained first-class honours in every exam she has taken in NUI Galway and I was not at all surprised to hear that she was offered fellowships by one of the best universities in the world.” Fionnuala began at NUI Galway in 2008, originally to study Physics with Medical Physics. “At the end of my first year, I realised I enjoyed mathematics and decided to immerse myself fully into its application to real-world problems and am grateful to the College of Science to have allowed me to switch to a degree in Applied Mathematics.” While at Harvard, Fionnuala is hoping to work in a field related to modelling in engineering or medicine, possibly with links to neurosciences. In recent years, Mathematical Sciences at NUI Galway have undergone several major changes, with for example the fusion of the former Departments of Mathematics, which included Statistics, and Mathematical Physics into a School with four Disciplines of Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, Statistics, and Bioinformatics, and the launch of a new Degree in Mathematical Science. -ENDS-

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Marine Student on Board Semester at Sea Abroad Program from Halifax to Galway

 Marine Student on Board Semester at Sea Abroad Program from Halifax to Galway-image

Friday, 24 August 2012

500 visitors come onshore for one day showcase of Galway Friday, 24 August, 2012: Over 500 students, faculty, and staff of Semester at Sea® (SAS), the nation’s premier shipboard program for study abroad, will arrive in Galway at 8:00 am on 31 August for a one day exploration of Galway before also docking in Dublin. Ireland is the first country on the academic voyage itinerary. Sarah Cosgrove, a student from the National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway joined the shipboard community in Halifax where embarkation took place on 23 August. All participants are traveling aboard the MV Explorer, a state-of-the-art passenger ship that Semester at Sea has outfitted as a traveling university. Speaking in advance of her departure, Sarah Cosgrove, from Sligo and a postgraduate researcher at NUI Galway, said: “I began a Marine Science degree in NUI Galway in 2006 and I am extremely happy to be continuing my studies as a postgraduate researcher. The University has provided me with so many fantastic opportunities over the last six years and my current involvement with the semester at sea program is a perfect example of such an exciting and rewarding opportunity.” Sarah added: “I think the idea of this ‘floating campus’ which invites students from over 25 campuses across the US to travel the globe visiting a vast number of countries and experience multi-cultural diversity is a simply out-standing concept. I am both honored and delighted to share this experience and I am very much looking forward to educating and informing so many international students on what we have to offer here in Galway and the West of the Ireland. It is definitely a once in a life-time opportunity.” Semester at Sea is a global study abroad program that traces its roots to 1963. Participants, who hail from more than 250 U.S. and international universities, circumnavigate the globe aboard the 24,300-ton campus of the MV Explorer, attend classes in a closely knit environment with an international faculty, complete fieldwork and travel while in port, and receive course credit from the University of Virginia, the academic sponsor. “Ensuring a positive message about Galway Harbour and NUI Galway is vitally important to open new avenues and form new relationship with the Semester at Sea program. Galway Harbour Company is delighted to be able to support Sarah Cosgrove in delivering the key messages of promoting Galway as a cruise destination on the transatlantic passage from Halifax to Galway onboard the cruise ship Explorer”, said Galway Harbour Master, Captain Brian Sheridan. The autumn voyage departed Halifax, Nova Scotia on 23 August 2012 and will travel to international destinations including Ireland, England, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Ghana, South Africa, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Dominica before returning to Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA in December. This is the 111th voyage of Semester at Sea. Eamon Howley, Managing Director of BEM Ireland Ltd, said: “BEM Ireland was proud to be selected as the preferred Destination Management Company in the region by the Galway Harbour Board last September. We have put together a number of one day and three day tour packages for Semester at Sea that will showcase Galway and the West. BEM Ireland is delighted to be supporting Sarah Cosgrove, a marine student from NUI Galway, who will join the students from Semester at Sea aboard the Explorer on her journey from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Galway. Sarah will be presenting information on the West of Ireland and helping the students to select the tours that are of most interest to them. We hope she has a very enjoyable voyage and a great life experience.” Over the years, Semester at Sea has achieved a number of significant milestones, including groundbreaking visits to countries such as the former Soviet Union, China, Vietnam, Cuba, and Myanmar, and participants have met with prominent leaders including Fidel Castro, Anwar Sadat, Indira Gandhi, Mikhail Gorbachev, Corazon Aquino, Sidi Mohammed, Mother Teresa, and Nelson Mandela. ENDS

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NUI Galway’s Energy Management System to be Certified to ISO 50001

NUI Galway’s Energy Management System to be Certified to ISO 50001-image

Monday, 27 August 2012

NUI Galway has announced its Energy Management System (EnMS) will be certified to International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) 50001. The certification, which will be completed in September 2012, will cover the University campus in Galway, including more than 110,000sqm of facilities, including teaching, leisure and sports, conference, laboratory and cutting-edge research facilities. Energy is one of the biggest recurring costs NUI Galway face annually. The implementation of an energy management system will not only help to manage and monitor energy consumption, but also to reduce it. This maximizes energy efficiency and reduces annual energy consumption and resulting expenditure on critical utilities. Savings made in this way will help to fund ongoing expenditure in other energy reduction programs and to invest in new energy efficient technologies. Noel O’Connor, Buildings Services Engineer at NUI Galway, said: “NUI Galway has focused on energy management for many years. We chose to have our EnMS certified to give us, and our stakeholders, confidence that we are managing energy use efficiently in all our operations. We also believe that the regular audits will help us to keep energy at the top of our management agenda and help us to focus on continual improvement. NUI Galway intends to build on lessons learned from the ISO 50001 certification process into our fundamental design criteria for new buildings. We are also conscious of our role as a research-based university and we will share relevant data gleaned from our EnMS and improvement projects as an educational resource for our students and researchers; particularly those in the Environmental, Engineering and Economics programs.” NUI Galway has an annual replacement program for existing building stock to install energy efficient lighting, heating, ventilation and cooling systems. The capital building program is heavily influenced by a focus and philosophy of improving the energy efficiency of buildings, beyond present day regulations and planning standards.  A case in point is the newly opened Engineering Building. The building contains a wide- range of technologies such as large-scale rainwater harvesting for grey water use, combined heat and power plant, biomass boiler, solar thermal system, insulation and glazing properties in excess of planning requirements, intelligent control systems low-embodied energy materials such as zinc, grass roofs for water attenuation, and many other cutting-edge technologies. The structure is among the first in Ireland to employ the use of voided slab systems. The innovation introduces ‘plastic bubbles’ into the concrete, reducing the weight and quantity of concrete used. ISO’s portfolio of over 18,600 standards provides business, government and society with practical tools for all three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, environmental and social. ISO standards make a positive contribution to the world we live in facilitating trade, spread knowledge, disseminate innovative advances in technology, and share good management and conformity assessment practices. ISO 50001 is based on the management system model that is already understood and implemented by organisations worldwide. It can make a positive difference for organisations of all types in the very near future, while supporting longer term efforts for improved energy technologies. NUI Galway has engaged the services of Casey Technology and CICS to certify its EnMS to ISO 50001. -ENDS-

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Rapid Diagnosis of Pneumonia Vital for Best Possible Outcome

Rapid Diagnosis of Pneumonia Vital for Best Possible Outcome-image

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Researchers at NUI Galway are involved in a new European project which hopes to deliver a cost effective tool for the speedy diagnosis of infections such as pneumonia.  The test would reduce diagnosis time from days to hours, so that the appropriate treatments can be administered as early as possible for the best possible outcome. Respiratory tract infections, such as pneumonia, are amongst the top four major causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. According to the World Health Organisation, pneumonia is the leading cause of death in children, killing an estimated 1.4 million children under the age of five each year. “There is an urgent need for rapid diagnostic tests capable of identifying the large range of microorganisms and antibiotic resistances involved with infection”, explains Dr Thomas Barry of the Molecular Diagnostics Research Group at NUI Galway.  “Speed and accuracy are key to appropriate therapy and survival of the patient. The ultimate objective is to develop new cost effective, user-friendly products that will be routinely used in hospitals.  This could replace time-consuming and labour-intensive methods so that a diagnosis can be achieved within a couple of hours, rather than days or weeks.” The diagnostic products for the rapid diagnosis of Respiratory Tract Infections, specifically pneumonia, will be based on a novel ‘sample-in, result-out’ technology platform. The Molecular Diagnostics Research Group (MDRG) at NUI Galway is part of an international consortium involved in the project, funded by the EU's Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Development (FP7). A total grant of €6 million was awarded with the contribution to NUI Galway close to €1 million. The project, Rapid Identification of Respiratory Tract Infections (RiD-RTI), represents a unique partnership of SMEs, universities and hospitals from four European countries. The MDRG at NUI Galway joins University College London, the French diagnostic company Genewave, the Finnish Biotech company Mobidiag, and Assistance Publique Hopitaux de Paris in this consortium. The NUI Galway project component is led by Dr Thomas Barry, Principal Investigator of the MDRG which is based in Microbiology along with Dr’s Nina Tuite and Kate Reddington. -ends- 

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Culture Night 2012 at NUI Galway’s James Hardiman Library

Culture Night 2012 at NUI Galway’s James Hardiman Library-image

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Culture Night 2012 will take place on Friday, 21 September with cultural institutions from across the country opening their doors to stage a series of special events to mark the occasion. Among those hosting events for this national evening of celebration is the Archives and Special Collections services in NUI Galway’s James Hardiman Library. The Library holds numerous unique archival collections dating from the 15th century to the present day across a range of disciplines. Throughout the night, the James Hardiman Library will be showcasing many of these archival treasures. The programme of events will begin with an overview of the literary archive, life and legacy of the celebrated Irish playwright Tom Kilroy. This will be followed by an exhibition and talk on Pomes Penyeach and Nora Barnacle archived letters. This exhibition will allow the public to view an original edition of the James Joyce written collection of poems, donated by Joyce to the Special Collections of the James Hardiman Library. To complete the event a special film screening of The Dead will also take place. Adapted from James Joyce’s classic story, The Dead was the last film directed by John Huston in 1987. Prior to the screening, Professor Rod Stoneman, Director of the Huston School of Film and Digital Media will give a short introduction on the John Huston archive. NUI Galway Librarian, John Cox, said: “Culture Night offers an ideal opportunity to engage the public with some of the treasures in the James Hardiman Library’s archives and special collections and the public are very welcome to attend all or part of our events.” All events, which are free and open to the public, will take place at the Huston School of Film and Digital Media, NUI Galway with doors opening at 5.30pm. For more information or to RSVP contact Barry Houlihan in the James Hardiman Library at 091 493353 or email    -ENDS-

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Researchers Get Their Claws into Prawn Research

Researchers Get Their Claws into Prawn Research-image

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Enhancing the survival of discards and developing hatchery technologies Researchers at NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute are part of a new of €2.4 million EU project that aims to develop and enhance the sustainability of the prawn fishery. The research will focus on developing hatchery and ranching technologies, and enhancing the survival of discards. The latter is a contentious issue in ongoing EU Common Fisheries Policy negotiations. Nephrops norvegicus, also known as ‘Dublin Bay prawn’, ‘langoustine’ or ‘scampi’ will be the specific focus of the ‘NEPHROPS’ project. It is being led by NUI Galway and the Orkney Fisheries Association, and will bring together expertise from the fishing industry, technologists and academia across Europe to explore the potential for enhancing the sustainability of inshore fisheries. “The mortality of prawns is generally the result of poor handling and inappropriate discard protocols,” explains Dr Anne Marie Power, a Lecturer in Zoology at NUI Galway. As part of this project we will be developing ways of enhancing the survival of discards from fisheries.” After capture by trawl or creel undersized prawns (often as much as 45% of the catch) may be thrown back and it is estimated that 75% of discards from trawl fishing may die. Another aspect of the project is to develop hatchery technology suitable for use by groups of local fishermen interested in enhancing their fishery by releasing juveniles onto suitable grounds. “In order for this research to be successful, we will need to understand better what makes good grounds for prawns, how they behave when they are released and what can be done to enhance survival at the critical release stage”, said Dr Power. The main areas of work for researchers at the Ryan Institute are the identification of suitable inshore prawn habitats, as well as mapping and tagging studies to examine movement of animals. Growth trials will be conducted at the University’s Carna Aquaculture Research facility. The project leaders within NUI Galway are Dr Anne Marie Power and Professor Mark Johnson, who is also overall scientific leader for the NEPHROPS consortium. Professor Johnson commented: “Nephrops is a really important fishery in Ireland due to its economic value. This is a great opportunity to work with industrial partners, especially pot fishermen, to provide more opportunities to sustainably develop the resource.” The project will also include close liaison with Dr Colm Lordan of the Marine Institute. The University’s element of the project is worth €540,000. Other research institutions involved are University of Hull, Swansea University, Goteborg University and the Technology Institute in Norway.The research has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme managed by REA Research Executive Agency under grant agreement no. 286903.   For more information and a full list of contacts visit: ENDS

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Former NUI Galway Student to Present Channel 4 Coverage of the Paralympics in London

Former NUI Galway Student to Present Channel 4 Coverage of the Paralympics in London-image

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Daráine Mulvihill a former student of the Ard-Dioplóma i gCumarsáid Fheidhmeach, Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge will this week form part of Channel 4’s Paralympics coverage of the London Games which began on 29 August. Daráine, who hails from Ashbourne, Co. Meath was awarded the ESB/Rehab Young Person of the Year Award in 2002 and was a member of the State Council, working in an advisory capacity to the President.   In 2006 while completing her postgraduate studies with NUI Galway, Daráine was awarded the RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta Gold Medal for achieving the highest standard on the Ard-Dioplóma i gCumarsáid Fheidhmeach.  While commenting on her time at NUI Galway, Daráine said: “I very much enjoyed my year with Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, learning many new and invaluable skills which are now central to my new role with Channel 4.” After finishing the Ard-Dioplóma i gCumarsáid Fheidhmeach, Daráine worked in the RTÉ children’s programming department as well as the BBC and the international sports channel ESPN.  Viewers can tune into Channel 4’s Paralympics coverage, featuring Daráine from the 29th August through until the 9th of September. ENDS Iar-mhac Léinn de chuid OÉ Gaillimh mar Láithreoir ag Channel 4 do na Cluichí Paralimpeacha Beidh Daráine Mulvihill, iar-mhac léinn de chuid Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge mar láithreoir leis an gcainéal teilifíse, Channel 4, le linn na gcluichí Paralimpeacha a thosaigh an 29 Lúnasa. Is as Baile Trasna, Cill Dhéagláin, Co. na Mí, do Dharáine.  Bronnadh Gradam BSL/Rehab Ghaiscíoch Óg na Bliana uirthi in 2002 agus bhí sí ina ball den Chomhairle Stáit, údarás comhairle a thugann cúnamh don Uachtarán. D’fhreastal Daráine ar an tArd-Dioplóma i gCumarsáid Fheidhmeach, OÉ, Gaillimh in 2005 – 2006 agus bronnadh Bonn Óir Raidió na Gaeltachta uirthi don té is fearr a bhain caighdeán amach ar an gcúrsa.  Agus í ag tagairt don tréimhse a chaith sí leis an Acadamh, dúirt Daráine gur: “Thaitin an bhliain a chaith mé san Acadamh go mór liom, bhain mé scileanna den scoth amach agus gan an cúrsa ní bheadh mé ag tabhairt faoin ról atá agam anois.” D’éirigh le Daráine obair a fháil in RTÉ tar éis di an cúrsa a chur i gcrích agus  tá obair déanta ag Daráine ó shin i leith leis an BBC agus leis an gcainéal spóirt, ESPN, i measc go leor eile.  Beidh Daráine le feiceáil ar an scáileán agus í i mbun tráchtaireachta le Channel 4 do na cluichí Paralimpeacha atá ar siúl ón 29 Lúnasa – 09 Meán Fómhair i Londain. CRÍOCH

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Latest Maps of Coral Reefs to Inform Conservation Policy

 Latest Maps of Coral Reefs to Inform Conservation Policy-image

Friday, 31 August 2012

The newest and most detailed maps showing the predicted location of coral reefs in Irish waters were revealed at a conference in NUI Galway this week.  The maps are expected to prove very useful to policymakers, and draw heavily on information contained in the Irish National Seabed survey seafloor bathymetry map – one of the most extensive maps ever produced by a maritime nation. They were presented by NUI Galway PhD candidate, Anna Rengstorf, at a four-day international marine conference ‘Ecosystem Based Management and Monitoring in the Deep Mediterranean and Norht Atlantic’ which concludes today. Over 70 scientists and stakeholders from 15 countries attended the event at NUI Galway to discuss the latest scientific research from two European Union funded projects - CoralFISH and Deepfishman - devoted to the management of deep-sea resources.  The aim of the conference is to produce concrete proposals for the implementation of improved management of deep-sea fisheries and indeed other deep-sea resources taking into account the need to conserve biodiversity. The conference is very timely as the European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs, Mde. Damanaki has proposed changes to the Deep-Sea Access Regime governing the licensing of boats wanting to fish deep-sea species. The Commissioner has proposed that trawling and all bottom contact fishing gears should be phased out over a two year period. This has been met with applause by conservationists but with less enthusiasm by fishermen. Dr Anthony Grehan, of the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, who is hosting the conference said: “The need to develop the tools and a strategy for the implementation of maritime spatial planning is becoming increasingly urgent.  Competition for deep-sea resources is becoming more intense while the need to ensure adequate conservation of biodiversity - and genetic variety - is a priority for the future health of the planet.”  One approach that is gaining favour is the development of habitat suitability modeling that takes information about where species or habitats occur from detailed maps and extrapolates it to produce predicted distribution maps over much larger areas. NUI Galway is one of the pioneers of applying this approach in the deep-sea.  The maps produced by Ms Rengstorf, who is a Geological Survey of Ireland Griffiths Programme post-graduate awardee, will feed into this approach. Dr Grehan who supervises the project said, “these maps are statistically robust and reduce the need for expensive field mapping while providing sufficient detail for policymakers and managers to enable activity zoning as a key component in the implementation of a any future maritime spatial plan.” Dr Grehan added this is definitely the way forward and will likely become a key component of the implementation of the ‘Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth - An Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland’.  The Government plan was launched by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, TD at the Marine Institute, Galway last month with the intention of doubling the value of Ireland’s ocean wealth to 2.4% of GDP by 2030 and increasing the turnover from our ocean economy to more than €6.4bn by 2020. -ends-

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