Case Studies

Current and Recent Projects

MFRC activity is focused on achieving three important outcomes:

Enabling sustainability: Our researchers help ensure the sustainable management of fisheries and their ecosystems by collecting, analysing and interpreting data.

Conserving biodiversity: Our scientists help to conserve biodiversity by assessing the response of aquatic species to human impacts and environmental stresses.

Improving productivity: Our multidisciplinary team works closely with industry, academic partners, and state agencies to identify and implement innovative solutions to optimise the productivity of the seafood sector.

Click on each theme heading below and follow the links to find out more about some of our current and recent projects.

Enabling sustainability

Ecosystem tipping points: learning from the past to manage for the future (External website)

Funded by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Tipping Points project (2015-2019) aims to develop novel statistical methods for detecting and forecasting ecosystem change, using the Celtic Sea as a case study. The project utilises existing data describing Ireland’s marine environment to build understanding of relationships between pressures and ecosystem responses. The tools developed will help decision makers to assess current ecosystem status, evaluate ecosystem service trade-offs and predict effectiveness of management interventions.

Contact: Dr Deirdre Brophy


Unlocking the Archive: using scale and otolith chronologies to resolve climate impacts (Online PDF)

The Archive project is a collaboration with the Marine Institute, funded under the Marine Research Programme by the Irish Government. An aim of the project is to consolidate national collections of scales, otoliths, associated images and data into a single biochronology repository, thus maximising the use of the archive by researchers. Time series of scale/otolith growth and chemical composition will be analysed within the project to investigate how migratory fish respond to environmental change.

Contact: Dr Deirdre Brophy


Fisheries Knowledge for Optimal Sustainable Management (FishKOSM)

FishKOSM aims to increase our operational understanding of sustainable yields in mixed and multi-species fisheries. We are developing exciting modelling and predictive tools based on data and expertise to support an integrated approach to management and decision making, leading to an ecosystem approach to fisheries management. The project focusses specifically on the Celtic Sea and is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and stretches 2016-2021.

Contact: Dr Cóilín Minto


Prawn parasites prevail! (External website)

Host-parasite interactions have the potential to impact the quality and yield of fishery products. We examine the effects of an isopod parasite, Bopyrus squillarum, on the common prawn Palaemon serratus. In the Galway Bay prawn fishery, high parasite prevalence has been detected. We are now investigating the prevalence at other sites around Ireland. Furthermore, as the parasite inhabits the gill chamber of the prawn we are studying the pressure it may exert on the host’s respiratory system.

Contact: Dr Katie O'Dwyer


Assessing the potential of drones to take water samples and physico-chemical data from open lakes (External website)

This EPA funded research assesses the potential of using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to monitor water quality in Ireland. Protocols will be developed and recommendations made regarding the collection of water samples and physico-chemical data with UAVs, in line with Water Framework Directive (WFD) objectives. The most appropriate UAV platform and attachment payload design for water sampling will be identified. Results of hydrochemical analyses from UAV samples will be compared with those from manual boat samples.

Contact Dr Heather Lally


Conserving Biodiversity

Managing for Microplastics: A baseline to inform policy stakeholders (IMP.act) (External website)

The IMP.act project is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action COFUND fellowship funded by the Irish Research Council, aiming at developing a long-term management plan for microplastic pollution in Galway Bay and its environs. The ecosystem-based approach that the project follows will allow stakeholders to create a sustainable management plan that contributes to national legislation and international framework directives.

Contact: Dr João Frias


Necropsy of Stranded Dolphins and Porpoise

Strandings of common dolphin in Ireland have greatly increased since 2011. The Marine Institute with EMFF funding, wished to establish the cause of death of stranded common and striped dolphins and harbour porpoise and determine the proportion attributed to fisheries bycatch. The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group are working with the Regional Vet Lab in Cork, to provide specialist expertise for case history reporting. The project currently runs from April 2017 until December 2018.

Contact: Dr Simon Berrow; Dr Sinead Murphy


Modelling sperm whale and long-finned pilot whale occurrence in the Porcupine Seabight

GMIT are working in collaboration with Woodside PLC, an Australian Oil and Gas company to add value to an acoustic dataset collected in 2014 and 2016 in the Porcupine SeaBight. The project runs for three years from September 2018 and is funded through the Woodside-GMIT Cetacean Scholarship awarded to PhD candidate Cynthia Barile

Contact: Dr Joanne O'Brien; Dr Simon Berrow


Development of non‐invasive environmental DNA (eDNA) approaches for systematic monitoring of Irish pollan (Coregonus autumnalis)

This is a 9 months project funded under the Genetic Resources Grant Aid Scheme (Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine). The aims of this project are to (i) design and validate novel eDNA assays for the detection of pollan in Irish waters; (ii) test and apply a range of water sampling and filtration protocols for eDNA analysis; and (iii) evaluate the ability of eDNA approaches to estimate relative abundance/biomass.

Contact: Dr Luca Mirimin


Assessment of Management Units (MU) and conservation priorities for grey and harbour seals in Irish and north-western European waters using non-invasive techniques (External website)

This 4-year PhD project (Ms Kristina Steinmetz) is co-funded by GMIT/DHPLG/NPWS. The objectives are to:  investigate population genetic structure among protected species of seal around Ireland and further afield; investigate harbour seal habitat use in chosen SACs and around Ireland using photo-identification, genetic methodologies and citizen science; provide high quality knowledge required for implementation of marine biodiversity obligations and policy including the proposition of appropriate assessment units for seal populations under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

Contact: Kristina SteinmetzDr Luca Mirimin; Dr Sinead Murphy


Conservation of Austropotamobius pallipes in Ireland: Characterising immune reaction proteins and the genetic population structure of Irish populations by molecular methods

This is a 2-years MSc project (Mr Daniel Brady) co-funded by GMIT/NPWS. The main objectives of this project are to enable effective conservation and management of Irish white-clawed crayfish by: (i) characterising genetic diversity and population structure of Irish crayfish populations using modern molecular techniques and (ii) study immune factors-associated genes with particular attention to recent crayfish plague outbreaks.

Contact: Dr Orla Slattery; Dr Luca Mirimin,

Improving Productivity

Utilising the Arctic Sea Urchin Resource (External website)

The URCHIN project (2015 – 2018) was a transnational project financed by the Northern Periphery and Arctic Program (2014-2020) that provided a robust platform for innovation, the creation of new technology and dissemination of new and existing technology and knowledge to SME’s, research institutes, businesses, government agencies and other relevant stakeholders throughout the participating countries. The goal was to stimulate the creation of a sustainable, lucrative and economically beneficial sea urchin industry in the NPA region.

Irish Contact: Dr Colin Hannon


ADIOS: amoebic disease of salmon

This is a 3-years project funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM). The main aims of this project are to advance our understanding of amoebic gill disease affecting Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) using a range of molecular (genetics, transcriptomics, proteomics) and microbiological techniques, with particular attention to the acute immune response as well as adaptive immune response.

Contact: Dr Eugene McCarthy


Site-specific autogenous vaccine development for improved health and welfare of finfish species (lumpfish, wrasse, salmon, perch) in Irish aquaculture.

This project is funded by An Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) and the European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF). The objectives are to collect pathogenic bacteria from finfish marine aquaculture and freshwater sites for identification, characterisation and isolate generation and to develop cultures for incorporation into autogenous vaccines. Following good laboratory practice (GLP) and good manufacturing practice (GMP) guidelines will ensure vaccine quality and safety, while in-house challenge trials will be used to determine vaccine efficacy. The project runs from September 1st 2018 until August 31st 2020.

Contact: Dr Anita Talbot

Further Information: 

To collaborate please contact our specialist staff or the Marine and Freshwater Research Centre Leader:

eMail:  Dr Deirdre Brophy,

Phone: +353 (0)91 742484