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Richard FitzGerald

RICHARD FITZGERALD

(22/01/1957 – 5/12/2016)

On the 5th of December 2016, our dear colleague, friend and mentor Dr. Richard FitzGerald passed away at University Hospital Galway, following a short illness.

Richie was a key member of the MOREFISH team and was pivotal in the formation of the project. Originally from Co. Kerry, Richie was a graduate of UCC. Following on from his undergraduate he commenced work on his PhD on ecological interactions of fish-parasite communities (1 of only 2 PhDs awarded in Ireland on this area). He also held an MBA in Finance and Accounting.

Richie had over 30 years’ experience in the aquaculture sector and was a significant figure in the area. He was instrumental in the establishment of UCC’s Aquaculture Development Centre and AquaTT. He served on the Aquaculture Licensing Appeals Board, numerous state boards and agencies and served as an EU expert on multiple occasions.

In 2006, he joined NUI, Galway as a Senior Research Fellow, manager and research co-ordinator of the Carna Research Laboratory. Richie published over 35 peer reviewed publications and over 100 technical reports. His experience and knowledge of fish biology and aquaculture made him Irelands leading expert in this area.

Personally, Richie was warm and welcoming. He was quick of wit, with an incredible amount of knowledge stored in his head. He had a story for every situation and was a sounding board for his friends and colleagues. A true character, his passing is a loss to the field of aquaculture and to countless friends.

He will be greatly missed by his wife Frances, his family, his colleagues and a legion of friends.

Link to a recent appreciation article on Richie in the Irish Times.

RAS Workshop

In September the team attended an intensive workshop on the development and principles of recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) led by IFREMER (France) and Wageningen University (The Netherlands) through the European AQUAEXCEL 2020 program at the IFREMER Sète research station.

This course was a great success and an unique opportunity to strengthen the MOREFISH team’s overall knowledge on the very promising area of recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) and their various applications for the rearing and culture of different species (e.g. salmon, rainbow trout) at different life stages (e.g. nursery, on-growing) and under different conditions (fresh/saline, cold/warm waters). The different presentations, given by some of the renowned researchers/practitioners in the field (J.P. Blancheton from Ifremer, P.B. Pedersen from DTU Aqua, E. Eding from Wageningen University and R.H. Piedrahita from the University of California among others) covered all the relevant topics including water treatment (nitrification, denitrification, dephosphatation, algae nutrient assimilation, solids removal), microbiology and the bacteria dynamic in such systems, gas control, energy control, integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) and mass balances.

Therefore, it was possible to gain the following benefits from this course:
• Gaining solid knowledge about the principles of RAS;
• Becoming familiar with different types of RAS, their specificities, capabilities and limitations;
• Understanding the advantages of RAS and the necessary conditions for optimal use and operation;
• Mastering the basics of RAS design and sizing;
• Becoming aware of the ongoing research to increase the efficiency and acceptability of RAS.

Furthermore, this course was of great benefit for the MOREFISH project because the application of such systems in Ireland will allow the sector to drastically reduce the impact of aquaculture activity on the environment and specifically on water quality (water is theoretically fully treated before reuse and there is theoretically no discharge water and therefore no pollution created by this discharge water) compared to the current situation where most of the facilities are operated as flow through systems.
If RAS are developed in Ireland, it will therefore be possible to both increase the overall production and to reduce the impact of the Irish aquaculture industry. The overall sustainability of fish production will therefore be greatly increased by the application of such technologies in Ireland.

All the networking initial objectives were also fulfilled with the building of a strong network over all the 30 participants (15 nationalities) represented during this week.

The MOREFISH project have invited Per Bovbjerg Pedersen to be a guest speaker at the next Workshop on Freshwater Aquaculture “Increasing Irish production in a sustainable manner under emerging environmental constraints” in late January 2017.

Stakeholder Meeting

In mid-October 2016, the MOREFISH team hosted some of Ireland’s largest fish producers for a day of talks by international and Irish experts in the area of aquaculture.

The day opened with MOREFISH Principal Investigators Dr. Eoghan Clifford and Professor Neil Rowan welcoming the 20+ attendants. The first session of the day consisted of the MOREFISH team introducing the attendants to their research. Conor Behan introduced his performance assessment index which allows farm operators to account inputs and outputs. Dr. Alexandre Tahar spoke on water quality within fish farms and the discharges. Alan Kennedy spoke on his work developing novel aeration technologies for the Irish aquaculture sector. Sarah Naughton showcased her work on the use of Pulsed Ultraviolet disinfectant technologies and the elimination of certain problematic pathogens using this technology. The final MOREFISH speaker on the day was Ronan Cooney who presented some of the teams work on reviewing discharge licenses and the disparity between and within issuing authorities, he also presented an overview of his work on developing a biodiversity impact metric in the use of lifecycle assessment.

The keynote speaker on the day was Dr. Jean Paul Blancheton. Dr. Blancheton is a senior research scientist with IFREMER, the French marine research institute. Dr. Blancheton was lead scientist on a recent project called OrAqua, which looked at the promotion of organic practices in aquaculture and gauging the consumers’ perception of what organic means (www.oraqua.eu). Irish speakers on the day included Martin Flanigan from the Aquaculture Initiative who spoke about the experiences of Northern Irish aquaculture with regards to discharge and abstraction rate. Damien Toner from Bord Iascaigh Mhara, gave an overview of the pressures facing freshwater aquaculture and an exciting new project by BIM called PeatAqua. Dr. Neil Bass of Watermark gave a very interesting talk on the Water Framework Directive and its application to the freshwater aquaculture sector and postulated that the future of Irish aquaculture may lie in lake culture and recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS).

During the roundtable discussion there was positive feedback from the industry members present for the work completed by MOREFISH to date. The issue which was of greatest concern to the industry was the continuing uncertainty and delay in the issuance of aquaculture licenses. It was agreed that MOREFISH would become a platform to facilitate the freshwater fish farmers of Ireland at meetings going forward.

MOREFISH ​Project​​ ​Objectives

  • Increase fish biomass output per unit input (e.g. energy).
  • Increase production efficiency and competitiveness.
  • New production management strategies that minimise environmental impacts (e.g. wastewater treatment; WFD).
  • Develop and demonstrate the use of innovative technologies that improve efficiencies and can accommodate organic classification.
  • Develop benchmarking tools that enable end-users monitor production efficiency and inform key process decisions.
  • Undertake comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of all implemented technologies.
  • Develop new funding opportunities in National and International funding calls (e.g. HORIZON 2020), in collaboration with industry and key stakeholders.

Enhancing Production And Sustainability In Irish Aquaculture

MOREFISH is a Dept. of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), multidisciplinary aquaculture project that develops and tests new innovative technologies and novel processes to significantly improve production management and efficiencies at inland aquaculture sites. The project addresses critically important needs identified by end-users including advanced aeration, efficient production management and benchmarking, and deployment of next-generation pulsed light disinfection technologies. These innovations will have key impacts including (i) enhance production efficiency and sustainability, (ii) reducing environmental impacts of aquaculture production and (iii) improved fish health and reduced finfish diseases/mortalities in rearing systems due to improved operating conditions. The project brings together a critical mass of engineering and scientific expertise, industry stakeholders and policy-makers, commercial operators and international experts.


MOREFISH will target the development of beyond-state-of-the-art approaches that will increase fish biomass yields, productivity and stocking densities, mitigate contamination and cross-infection, and reduce production costs and waste.  The project proposes a number of key pilot sites (in partnership with industry) to demonstrate key innovations. These pilot sites have been strategically chosen to be representative of the inland aquaculture industry.