Funding has been earmarked in Budget 2021 for the construction of a new state of the art marine research ship which will be based out of Galway.
The new 52.8m long research vessel, which is yet to be named, will replace the 23 year old RV Celtic Voyager and carry out research for the Marine Institute in Oranmore.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue has earmarked funding for its construction in his department’s 2021 budget.
The contract for building this ship has gone to Spanish shipyard Astilleros Armon Vigo S.A, and construction is expected to be completed in 2022.
Making the announcement, Minister McConalogue said that the ship will “provide critical national infrastructure to enable Ireland to address the considerable challenges of Brexit and the Common Fisheries Policy as well as climate induced impacts on our oceans.”
Welcoming the news Dr Paul Connolly, CEO of the Marine Institute said “This new vessel will enable Ireland to develop the best scientific advice possible to maximise economic opportunities for our coastal industries and communities and ensure a sustainable resource for them”.
When completed the research ship will be capable of staying at sea for up to 21 days, carrying researchers from the Marine Institute, as well as Universities and other State Agencies.
It will also maintain and deploy weather buoys, observational infrastructure and the Institute’s Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV Holland I)
“The significantly enhanced capabilities of the vessel will help our researchers, educators, students and the public gain a deeper understanding of the ocean,” Dr Connolly said.
Most importantly, he added, it will support work in areas such as “fisheries assessment, offshore renewable energy, marine spatial planning, marine protected areas and research in the area of blue carbon.”
Capital funding of €1.5 million has also been allocated to the Marine Institute in Budget 2021, which Dr Connelly said will contribute to the “core services” of the Institute in providing information that can inform decisions on managing the ocean’s resources.
In 2021, the Marine Institute plans to fund a call for a large-scale project for researchers to investigate the potential for carbon storage and sequestration in Irish waters.
The work will examine a range of potential carbon storage alternatives such as algal absorption, seagrass forestry, deep-sea sinks, seabed layering and shellfish farming.