Buoyant opportunities in marine sector

Buoyant opportunities in marine sector
Jennifer Doyle, Marine Institute Scientist

Over eight out of 10 leading voices in Ireland’s marine industry are confident about the growth potential for Ireland’s marine economy, according to a PwC and Irish Marine Institute joint survey, produced as part of the Our Ocean Wealth Summit in Cork.

Marine energy including offshore wind and ocean energy is by far the greatest opportunity for the maritime industry, according to the survey. Other key opportunities include: marine tourism and leisure; Aquaculture, sea-fisheries and processing; marine biotechnology; and shipping and maritime transport.

“The survey highlights a vibrant Irish marine industry, confident in its future growth potential,” said PwC partner Declan McDonald.

As an economy that is home to many of the world’s largest technology companies and tech start-ups, one clear area of unique potential for Ireland is the further development of new technologies in the offshore wind energy areas. The industry has a very significant role to play in meeting Ireland’s future energy needs sustainably.

Developing offshore technology offers a unique opportunity to develop new technology in the offshore and wind sectors is the top factor to maintain or increase the attractiveness of Ireland as a centre of excellence for the blue economy.

Other factors include: having a highly educated and young workforce; becoming a centre for marine ICT and technology; and Ireland as a potential location for global shipping and maritime commerce. Ireland and the EU are actively promoting the marine and maritime sectors.

Marine scientists work in a range of jobs including the fisheries industry, Marine Institute, National Parks and Wildlife Service, and Bord Iascaigh Mhara, as well as many of the universities in education and research.

Film, photography and communications are also great skills to have promoting the importance of our ocean, where some great documentaries have been produced in recent years.

Jennifer Doyle has been working in marine science at the Marine Institute as a fisheries scientist for 20 years. Her expertise is in using underwater TV technology to survey the status of Nephrops norvegicus stocks of commercial importance to Ireland.

When I left school I was not sure what I wanted to be except I knew I liked working outdoors a lot and biology was the main branch of science I was curious in

"Still, developing and working with technology to study Nephrops wasn’t the career path I had in mind when I was 18,” she says.

Jennifer completed a degree in Biology and Mathematics in NUI Maynooth followed by a postgrad diploma in Fisheries management in UCC.

“To really test my love of outdoors and fieldwork I got firsthand experience working at sea. I was lucky to get a place on a trawler out of Castletownbere, which was pivotal to my career as a starting point. Working out at sea was like a new adventure learning to deal with the weather and swells of the ocean.

“The trip was proof that this type of work suited me. I really enjoyed the experience of working on an unstable platform with folk I had just met and getting on with the jobs on the vessel.”

Buoyant opportunities in marine sector

Following this, Jennifer got her first job as an observer at sea on trawlers in the Irish Sea where she met skippers and crews on many fishing vessels.

“The skippers and crew were great and gave me an appreciation for the men and women in the fishing industry and marine biology sector who work hard in variable conditions.”

Working at the Marine Institute, scientists get to work in the office as well as outdoors. Jennifer spends up to 40 days at sea working on the research vessel RV Celtic Voyager. “The Underwater TV surveys assessing the status of Nephrops stocks are 10 days long and we work inshore and offshore so we get to see the coast but also a lot of the big blue.”

The TV surveys are carried out in the summer as good weather is required to operate the TV sledge.

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