An exciting new marine science project studying the seas around Ireland, Western Scotland and Northern Ireland was launched this week in Ballycastle overlooking Rathlin Sound. The COMPASS project, led and coordinated by researchers from the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), will connect the regions’ leading marine research Institutes to form a cross-border network to protect vulnerable marine species and increase our understanding of ocean life in our seas.
Funding for the COMPASS project has been provided by the EU’s INTERREG VA programme, which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), to the tune of €6.3m. This substantial investment will see a state-of-the-art network of buoys to effectively track, model and monitor aquatic life and the oceanographic processes which influence them across the seas that surround the 3 countries.
COMPASS will bring together experts to deliver regional-scale scientific programmes of work. The network will produce new marine monitoring data to investigate emerging areas of environmental concern including ocean acidification and increasing levels of ambient noise. The project will also develop hi-tech acoustic tag programmes to study migration patterns, behaviour, and mortality of salmon and sea trout in order to improve the management of fish stocks. Passive acoustic studies will provide new insights into the populations of marine mammals around our coasts, whilst advanced computer models will help us understand processes that require consideration over large geographical scales.
The COMPASS project will establish infrastructure that will enhance cross-border co-operation to ensure that information can be shared in a coherent and standardised way. This aspect of the project will allow data to flow into national and international marine monitoring programmes.