Donegal coastal waters will be part of Europe's largest fish counter project

Marine experts sounding out salmon, basking sharks, skate, dolphins, whales and seals

Donegal coastal waters will be part of Europe's largest fish counter project

The areas at which the project will be conducted

The waters off Donegal will soon be the setting for part of a unique marine research project led by  to study the seas around Ireland and Western Scotland with the deployment of ‘Europe’s largest fish counter’.

The SeaMonitor project - which is supported by eight leading marine research institutions located in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the US and Canada - will use innovative marine species tracking technology to better understand and protect vulnerable marine life in our oceans.

Listening stations from Malin Head - Ireland’s most northerly point - to the island of Islay in Scotland will record transmissions from a variety of mobile marine species tagged by the project’s scientists.

The data collected using acoustic telemetry will be used to support the conservation of vulnerable species such as salmon, basking sharks, skate, dolphins, whales and seals. 

Sharon McMahon, Loughs Agency chief executive, said the deployment of the fish counter marked a major achievement for the SeaMonitor project.

“Loughs Agency is proud to be leading the way alongside expert colleagues to deliver such amazing marine research infrastructure that will ultimately help protect some of our most important species.”

Chief executive of the Special EU Programmes Body, Gina McIntyre, welcomed the announcement.

“I’m delighted to see such a significant achievement for the SeaMonitor project, made possible through the EU’s INTERREG VA Programme and the efforts of all its partners in Northern Ireland, Ireland and Scotland working together collectively.

“This is a much-needed step forward for the conservation of a number of vulnerable species within our shared oceans. It only serves to highlight the benefits that are created through strong, mutually beneficial cross-border partnerships in the management of marine protected areas and species. Well done to all involved for advancing our understanding of our seas,” she added.

Dr Fred Whoriskey, executive director of the Ocean Tracking Network explained that this project is important in so many ways.

"It will unite and empower scientists from Europe and abroad to tackle pressing management issues, provide global networking for scientists to efficiently use resources,
and engage the public in project outcomes.

"We are pleased to provide technical support and counsel, as well as tracking infrastructure to SeaMonitor which is contributing to the conservation of Europe’s valued marine animals.”

Director of Fisheries Ecosystems and Advisory Services at the Marine Institute, Dr Ciaran Kelly, added: “We are delighted to collaborate with partners on the SeaMonitor project and provide technical support and ship-time on the Marine Institute’s research vessel, the RV Celtic Voyager.

"Tracking the migration of species and identifying environmental signals influencing their movement is essential to effectively protect and manage our marine ecosystems,” he said.

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