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While there are a multiplicity of factors contributing to the decline of Irish aquaculture production , some of the key challenges facing the sector include (i) increased production & operational costs, (ii) the cost of meeting ever-increasing environmental compliance & regulatory requirements, (iii) and under-investment within the sector. It was against this backdrop of sharp decline in the freshwater sector that the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine (DAFM) elected to support a programme of research to identify the necessary scientific and technological supports to assist the sector meet and exceed growth targets. Out of this, the MOREFISH programme was developed.

MOREFISH comprised of a multidisciplinary team of engineering and scientific expertise from the National University of Ireland, Galway and Athlone Institute of Technology, industry stakeholders, policy-makers and commercial operators to respond directly to critical technical and policy gaps identified by stakeholders and the 2014 DAFM research call. The aim of the programme was to develop and test innovative technologies and novel production processes to significantly improve production output, operational efficiencies and management at inland aquaculture sites in Ireland. Achieving these goals was also necessary to reconcile the contrasting demands of the growing national aquaculture industry with meeting the goals of the Water Framework Directive . MOREFISH ran from January 2015 to August 2017.

A key success of MOREFISH programme has been the formation of an independent platform which can act as a scientific repository for the industry, and provide a forum for the industry to establish proactive engagement among all stakeholders, thereby supporting the sustainable development of the industry (Image above).

In late 2017, MOREFISH team commenced a further 2-year project “EcoAqua”. EcoAqua has received €348,781 in funding under the European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF), administered by Bord Iascaigh Mhara, through the Knowledge Gateway Scheme, on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The output of this project will include new process, operational and technological interventions, whilst also contributing to the knowledge base within the national aquaculture sector. It has built on capacity for, and developed new partnerships focused on, research and innovation in environment and health. The project aims to test and optimise innovative technologies and processes developed through MOREFISH project. Key areas of research under EcoAqua include: water treatment technologies and their application to aquaculture, energy reduction interventions, LCA studies, facilitate water re-use and intensive continual monitoring of on site performance. Click the image below to learn more about EcoAqua: