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£6m from EU to probe risks to Irish Sea fishing industry

Researchers, funded by the EU, will investigate challenges facing the fishing industry in the Irish Sea. Photo: PA

More than £6m in EU funding is being given to researchers investigating the risks posed by climate change to the sustainability of fish stocks in the Irish Sea.

Two projects are to be carried out in a bid to help protect and develop marine life and fishing industries in Ireland and Wales.

One of the projects will involve developing and testing a new ‘smart grid’ electricity network to help reduce energy costs for the fisheries industry.

Investigations will also look at how climate change is affecting the health of fish stocks, the migratory movement of commercial fish, and risks from new non-native species.

Around £4.7m will support the Bluefish marine science partnership will be led by Bangor University in Wales, in partnership with Irish and Welsh organisations.

The combination of research between academic partners and collaboration with industry partners will ensure these vital industries receive the information and support they need to be more resilient to the changes the industry is facing, and will continue to face in coming years, and to react to opportunities.

– Dr Shelagh Malham, Bangor University's School of Ocean Sciences

A further £1.5m will go to the piSCES project, which aims to improve the quality and security of energy supply for fisheries businesses in remote locations while minimising their exposure to energy price peaks and reducing their carbon footprints.

Both projects are being funded through the EU's Ireland-Wales co-operation programme.

Irish minister for public expenditure and reform Paschal Donohoe said: “This is a clear demonstration of our continuing commitment to the programme.

“It also underlines the importance of EU funding for scientific research into areas of shared interest.”

Welsh Government finance secretary Mark Drakeford added: “These projects bring together expertise from both nations to support an industry in Wales and Ireland that shares the same opportunities, challenges and resources within the Irish Sea.

“Collaborative schemes like these are why we are clear about the advantages to Wales of ongoing access to territorial co-operation programmes, including the Ireland-Wales programme, when the UK leaves the EU.”