Belfast Telegraph

EU backs investigation into climate change on fish and shellfish in Irish Sea

Researchers investigating the risks posed by climate change on the sustainability of fish and shellfish in the Irish Sea are being given more than seven million euro in EU funding to carry out two projects.

It is hoped the projects, one of which involves developing and testing a new 'smart grid' electricity network to help reduce energy costs for the fisheries industry, will help protect and develop the marine life and fisheries industry in Wales and Ireland.

Around 5.5 million euro will support the Bluefish marine science partnership, led by Bangor University in partnership with Irish and Welsh organisations. It will investigate how climate change is affecting the health of fish stocks, the migratory movement of commercial fish, and risks from new non-native species.

It aims to develop solutions to help fisheries businesses adapt to environmental changes and capitalise on new commercial opportunities.

Dr Shelagh Malham, senior research fellow at Bangor University's School of Ocean Sciences, said: "The combination of research between academic partners and collaboration with industry partners will ensure these vital industries receive the information and support they need to be more resilient to the changes the industry is facing and will continue to face in coming years, and to react to opportunities."

A further 1.8 million euro will go to the piSCES project, which aims to improve the quality and security of energy supply for fisheries businesses in remote locations while minimising their exposure to energy price peaks and reducing their carbon footprints.

The Telecommunications Software and Systems Group (TSSG) at Waterford Institute of Technology in Ireland will research and design new energy networks in collaboration with Cardiff University.

Milford Haven Port Authority and Ireland's seafood development agency, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), will work with businesses in the fish processing sector to provide live data and test sites.

Sean Lyons, project manager at TSSG, said: "Collaborating cross-border with our partners will bring together a wealth of experience from an R&D and implementation perspective and expose the technology to different regulatory environments bringing significant benefits to the industry."

Both projects are being funded through the EU's Ireland-Wales co-operation programme.

Welsh Government finance secretary Mark Drakeford said: "These projects bring together expertise from both nations to support an industry in Wales and Ireland that shares the same opportunities, challenges and resources within the Irish Sea.

"Collaborative schemes like these are why we are clear about the advantages to Wales of ongoing access to territorial co-operation programmes, including the Ireland-Wales programme, when the UK leaves the EU."

Irish minister for public expenditure and reform, Paschal Donohoe, added: "I am delighted to see the launch of another two projects under the Ireland-Wales programme.

"This is a clear demonstration of our continuing commitment to the programme. It also underlines the importance of EU funding for scientific research into areas of shared interest."

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