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Marine Institute Ireland

The Marine Institute (Foras na Mara) is the national agency responsible to the Irish government for advice on and implementation of marine research, technology, development and innovation policy, and marine research services. Its official vision is of
“A thriving maritime economy in harmony with the ecosystem and supported by the delivery of excellence in our services."[citation needed]

Marine Institute, Ireland
Marine Institute Ireland (logo).jpg
Agency overview
HeadquartersGalway, Ireland Republic of Ireland
EmployeesApprox 180
Agency executive
  • Dr. Peter Heffernan
Parent agencyDepartment of Agriculture, Food and the Marine(DAFM)


The institute is headquartered at Rinville, near Oranmore, County Galway while its Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) is located in Harcourt Street, Dublin. The Marine Institute also operates an aquaculture and catchment management laboratory and office facility at Furnace, near Newport, County Mayo, as well as offices and laboratories in a number of Ireland's fishing ports.


The Marine Institute oversees the operation of Ireland's two purpose-built research vessels, the RV Celtic Explorer and RV Celtic Voyager and the Remotely Operated Vehicle, Holland 1 as well as co-ordinating Sea Change – a seven-year Marine Knowledge, Research & Innovation Strategy for Ireland 2007 – 2013.


The Marine Institute Headquarters jx5LZ0, Rinville, Oranmore, Galway, Ireland

Following the recommendation of the 1974 National Science Council report Ireland, Science and the Sea, the Marine Institute was established by the Irish government under the Marine Institute Act of 1991 to undertake, to co-ordinate, to promote and to assist in marine research and development and to provide such services that, in the opinion of the Institute will promote economic development and create employment and protect the marine environment.

Starting with the appointment of its chief executive officer – Dr Peter Heffernan – followed by four Programme Managers in Marine Environment, Marine Food, Marine Technology and Marine Leisure and Tourism in 1995, the Marine Institute grew rapidly, to include the Irish Marine Data Centre and existing marine research facilities at Abbotstown, County Dublin and the Salmon Research Agency at Newport.

1998 saw the arrival of Ireland's first purpose-built research vessel, the 31-metre long RV Celtic Voyager. This was followed in 2000 by the announcement that the Institute would be moving from Dublin to new premises in Galway, and the arrival of the larger 65-metre deepwater research vessel RV Celtic Explorer in 2002. The Deepwater Remotely Operated Vehicle, Holland 1, was delivered in 2008.

2006 saw the Marine Institute move into its purpose-built headquarters and laboratory complex at Rinville, Oranmore, Galway. This building, which has won several architectural awards, houses 54 dedicated research laboratories, an auditorium capable of seating 150 people, a marine science library and an office crescent.

In 2006 the Institute also embarked on the planning and execution of Sea Change-A Marine Knowledge, Research & Innovation Strategy for Ireland 2007–2013, aimed at applying state-of-the-art technology and innovation to the sustainable economic development of Ireland's oceans and seas in such a way as to increase their economic return from an annual €3 billion in 2007 to €4.5 billion by the end of the programme.

Staff and structureEdit

The Marine Institute employs approximately 180 staff including specialists in fisheries, marine environment, technology, aquaculture, catchment management, ocean energy, functional foods and marine climate change, as well as experts in information technology, communications and logistical support.

The Office of the CEO provides overall direction and co-ordination of foresight, strategic and research planning activities at national and international level. It works in association with the Marine Institute's five service areas and other national and international organisations. The service areas are:

Marine Environment and Food Safety Services (MEFS)Edit

Marine Environment and Food Safety Services(MEFS)Logo

Marine Environment & Food Safety Services (MEFS) provides essential scientific advice and a range of marine environmental monitoring services to help ensure Irish seafood products meet approved standards. It also provides expert integrated advice to, and on behalf of, government departments and agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, and the Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources.

The Fish Health Team works with the marine food industry to protect the health status of Irish farmed salmon, trout and shellfish. The Fish Health Unit is the Irish National Reference Laboratory for finfish, mollusc and crustacean diseases. The team tests aquatic animal samples, as required under EU and national legislation, and supports the aquaculture industry and the inland fisheries sector in maintaining Ireland's superior fish and shellfish health status. The Fish Health Unit is also the National Competent Authority for the implementation of aquatic animal health legislation under EU and national legislation and monitors the movement of finfish and shellfish into and within Ireland.

Food Safety Monitoring ensures that Irish marine fish, shellfish and seafood products remain safe from elevated levels of residues and contaminants. The programmes in this area include monitoring of Irish fish, shellfish and seafood products to assure that they are safe from elevated levels of residues and contaminants. This complies with a range of EU Directives as well as with national requirements. The programme monitors naturally occurring species of plankton and the toxins they produce which can be concentrated in filter-feeding shellfish. This information is provided directly to the seafood industry to allow harvesting. Research is also carried out on developing new methods of testing for identifying emerging phytoplankton species and ensuring that they can be identified and analysed effectively, and also monitoring of microbiological contaminants in shellfish.

The Marine Institute runs a national Harmful Algal Bloom (HABS) monitoring service that warns producers and consumers of concentrations of toxic plankton in Irish coastal waters that could contaminate shellfish or cause fish deaths.

Environmental Monitoring is designed to assess levels, distribution and trends of man-made contaminants and naturally occurring biotoxins. Pollution may adversely affect the health of the seas and ultimately limit man's ability, or that of future generations, to use the seas as a sustainable resource.

The Aquaculture & Rearing teams located in Galway and Newport provide research, monitoring, analyses and advice on finfish aquaculture, salmonid rearing and freshwater catchment studies. The team also implements the National Sea Lice Monitoring programme on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Fisheries Ecosystems Advisory Services (FEAS)Edit

Fisheries Science Services (FSS) Logo

The Fisheries Ecosystems Advisory Services unit researches, assesses and advises on the sustainable exploitation of the marine fisheries resources in the waters around Ireland, and on the impacts of fisheries on the ecosystem. Irish waters contain some of the most productive fishing grounds in the world. These waters are important fish spawning and nursery grounds and their ‘Biological Sensitivity ’ is recognised internationally. To ensure the sustainable exploitation of this valuable fisheries resource and to protect the sensitive habitats in which they live, fisheries science is becoming a more 'broader based' science that will link into the concept of 'ocean management' and not just 'fisheries management'.

Linking fisheries data with oceanographic, sea bed mapping and climate change data, examining predator prey relationships, and interacting with stakeholders are all important components of a new form of 'ocean management advice' which comes under the umbrella of the 'ecosystem approach'. This approach considers all marine related activities such as fishing, gravel extraction and leisure use in a specific area (e.g. the Irish Sea) and provides advice in this context. Much of the work of the unit in this area is also used as input to the Marine Strategy Framework Directive which seeks to ensure Ireland's marine area achieves a good environmental status by 2020.

Fisheries Ecosystems Advisory Services are charged with meeting Ireland's obligations under the EU Data Collection Framework. The Framework supports the scientific advice needed to underpin the Common Fisheries Policy. As such, the unit carries out fisheries surveys in the waters around Ireland using the research vessels RV Celtic Explorer
and RV Celtic Voyager. These surveys collect extensive data for both national and international stock assessments of the main commercial species of fish and shellfish. Survey work is also conducted aboard commercial fishing vessels and unit staff collect data on the age and length profile of landings and examine fleet activity and fishing patterns. This information is used to produce the annual ‘Stock Book’ which is the primary source of scientific advice on marine fisheries to the Irish Government and the Industry and is used to support fisheries negotiations with the European Union.

Participation in applied research projects is critical to the evolution of scientific advice. The unit's flagship research project is the Beaufort Ecosystem Project, that links the third level sector on a broad range of ecosystem projects including fisheries seal interactions, marine birds, cetaceans, size based modelling and stakeholder engagement. Unit staff are also co-supervising a range of PhD projects and are active partners in many EU funded research projects.

Ocean Science and Information Services (OSIS)Edit

The Ocean Science Services (OSS) Logo

The Ocean Science and Information Services (OSIS) team provide support for national and international marine research programmes in a number of areas.

Research Vessel Operations manage the Marine Institute's research fleet, the RV Celtic Explorer and the RV Celtic Voyager, and also manage the foreign research vessel notification process.
The 65m long RV Celtic Explorer is a highly sophisticated low-noise multipurpose research vessel designed for undertaking a wide array of offshore and deep-sea survey operations. The RV Celtic Voyager is a 31.4m multipurpose vessel suited to coastal research and off shore survey operations. Both vessels are fully fitted with state-of-the-art scientific instrumentation, laboratories and IT equipment and are used for a variety of applications including fisheries research, environmental monitoring, seabed mapping, oceanology, seismic surveys, student training and meteorological investigations.

Name Image Commissioned Displacement (t) Length (m) Type
RV Celtic Explorer [1]   2003 2425 [2] 65.5 Multi-Purpose Research Vessel
RV Celtic Voyager [3] 1997 340 [4] 31.4 Multi-Purpose Research Vessel

Advanced Mapping Service Group carries out routine hydrographic and geophysical mapping for the Irish National Seabed Survey, the Integrated Mapping for the Sustainable Development of Irelands Marine Resource (INFOMAR) and benthic fisheries projects. The team has considerable expertise in Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and resource mapping, including aspects of aggregates exploration and marine pelagic and benthic habitat mapping.
The Advanced Mapping Section also mobilises and carries out rig site geo hazard surveys, pipeline investigations and are an active partners in the Mapping of European Seabed Habitats Project (MESH); concentrating on development of habitat mapping tools. This section also has the tools and infrastructure that permits acquisition, processing and interpretation of large survey data sets.

Oceanography and Ocean Modelling provide comprehensive oceanographic services, including the National Weather Buoy Network of five buoys around the Irish coast. The team is also involved in the establishment of an Irish tide gauge network, ocean modelling, satellite remote sensing and oceanographic support of diverse seagoing research programmes related to marine fisheries and environment.

The Information Services & Development team are responsible for the co-ordination of Marine Institute data activities and the provision of Information Technology infrastructure and information management for the Marine Institute.

The Advanced Marine Technology Programme is part of Sea Change, Ireland's marine research and innovation strategy. It seeks to create a critical mass, multi-disciplinary and industry-oriented research grouping in the area of advanced sensing, communications and informatics.

The Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO)Edit

The Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) Logo

The Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) of the Marine Institute is Ireland's first dedicated development, promotional and marketing agency for the shipping services sector. The IMDO's statutory mandate is to promote and develop growth in the Irish Shipping industry, and to attract to Ireland additional marine related service sector operations along with key players in International Shipping and ancillary services.

The shipping services sector is the largest segment of the Irish Marine industrial base, employing over 8,000 people while also generating over €1.5 billion within the economy annually. As an island-based economy, maritime transport carries 99% by volume of all Irish trade, making this a strategically important industry.[citation needed]

IMDO provides assistance to the Irish maritime industry and its consumers in its effort to maintain competitiveness in the International market place. The formulation and delivery of expert advice to Government is amongst the office's principal roles. The office also markets Ireland overseas as a dynamic European location for International shipping services to locate their operations.

IMDO has driven a number of successful initiatives including a new highly competitive shipping corporate tax regime, fiscal incentives, mercantile legislative reform and major initiatives in maritime education.

Corporate ServicesEdit

Corporate Services supports each of the Marine Institute service areas to deliver a consistent[citation needed] and high quality[citation needed] service in line with the objectives and priorities of the Institute. It comprises sections for finance, human resources management, facilities management, communications, and a Library operation. The institute supports an ongoing programme of events, publications, the website, media relations, and a schools outreach programme linked to the new national curriculum, Explorers Education Programme, used in over 50schools in Ireland.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Celtic Explorer". Marine Institute. Retrieved 4 January 2017.
  2. ^ "Celtic Explorer.pdf" (PDF). Marine Institute. Retrieved 4 January 2017.
  3. ^ "Celtic Voyager". Marine Institute. Retrieved 4 January 2017.
  4. ^ "Celtic Voyager.pdf" (PDF). Marine Institute. Retrieved 4 January 2017.

Marine Institute Act 1991

External linksEdit