Field personnel from the Ocean Tracking Network (OTN) based at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada, are currently in the North West working with the team servicing critical animal tracking infrastructure in support of the EU INTERREG VA-funded SeaMonitor project.
Led by the Loughs Agency and supported by eight leading marine research institutions, SeaMonitor is delivering Europe’s largest fish monitoring array with the deployment of large-scale technology to track the movements of some of the ocean’s most vulnerable species including Atlantic salmon, flapper skate, basking sharks, seals and cetaceans. Data collected by researchers will be used to help inform marine policy and management frameworks, and support conservation measures.
OTN field personnel, Cassandra Hartery and Caitlin Bate, have been carrying out expert field work co-ordinated alongside Diego del Villar, Senior Scientific Officer for the SeaMonitor project at Loughs Agency, using large-scale acoustic telemetry equipment.
“OTN has once again come up trumps for the Agency and the SeaMonitor project by lending their expertise to help our team with the retrieval and redeployment of Europe’s largest array. The ocean is a massive, dynamic and challenging environment to work in,” said Loughs Agency CEO, Sharon McMahon “Our priority is to get the equipment safely out of the water and I am delighted at the excellent progress to deliver such significant and innovative marine research data that will ultimately help protect some of our most important and vulnerable marine species.”
“The Agency’s specialist team together with project partners are continuing to work hard to ensure project objectives are delivered whilst following COVID-19 protocols and the amazing work undertaken recently puts us well ahead of schedule.”
Funding for the SeaMonitor project has been provided under the environment objective of the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), to the tune of €4.7m. Match-funding for this project has been provided by the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government in Ireland.
Dr Fred Whoriskey, OTN Executive Director commented: “OTN is pleased to provide field support and tracking infrastructure to SeaMonitor, which is underpinning the conservation of Europe’s valued marine animals during this challenging and unprecedented time.”
Key support and expertise was also provided by the NI Department of Environment Agriculture and Rural Affairs (DEARA) whose vessel, The Queen of Ulster, was used to take the project scientists out for the retrievals last week. Other vital field work was carried out at Loughs Agency headquarters in Derry and in Lough Foyle.
Sharon McMahon, Loughs Agency CEO, pictured (right) at the Agency's headquarters in Derry~Londonderry with Cassandra Hartery and Caitlin Bate, field personnel from the Ocean Tracking Network (OTN) based at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada, and Diego del Villar, Senior Scientific Officer for the SeaMonitor project at Loughs Agency. Included (left) is Ross McGill, Principal Project Officer for the EU INTERREG VA-funded SeaMonitor project.