Waterford group leading €1.8m Ireland-Wales fisheries project

6 Jul 2017

At the Pisces launch, from left: Senator Paudie Coffey; Tim James of Milford Haven Port Authority; Marie Harnett, Ireland Wales Programme; Tomas Cooper, Bord Iascaigh Mhara; Sean Lyons, Principal Investigator, TSSG, WIT; Dr Monjur Mourshed, Cardiff University. Image: Patrick Browne

Waterford IT-based TSSG will orchestrate a new international programme to improve Irish and Welsh fisheries, armed with €1.8m in funding.

In a rarity for things like this, Waterford Institute of Technology’s (WIT), Telecommunications Software and Systems Group (TSSG) will lead an actually cleverly named research study.

Pisces (Smart Cluster Energy System for the Fish Processing Industry) will see TSSG orchestrate a €1.8m investigation into opportunities and risks posed by climate change on both sides of the Irish Sea.

The funding will be used to develop and test a new “smart grid” electricity network to help reduce energy costs for the fisheries industries of each country.

The fish processing industry is generally centred around coastal fishing ports, which is fine in theory but these can often be isolated, cut off from complementary services and communication lines.

The programme suggests that this “imposes inherent competitive disadvantages in the market” compared with the likes of farming, or other food production industries.

To survive and prosper, therefore, they must be innovative in their business practices improving efficiencies and controlling their cost base.

Energy is key in this respect, with freezing, chilling and general transport representing huge costs.

Given the fact that the energy industry is in a state of flux at the moment, the fishing industry should probably get on board with contemporary changes, and plan for future shifts.

Among the primary goals, Pisces will aim to model and implement a microgrid on a single high-energy site in both Ireland and Wales to examine and improve the efficiency (attracting SMEs will be key).

Elsewhere the researchers will compare and contrast the outputs in relation to the energy markets, economic returns and local legislative conditions.

TSSG is partnering with Cardiff University, Bord Iascaigh Mhara and the Port of Milford Haven. It is funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Ireland Wales Cooperation programme.

“Ireland faces huge challenges in achieving their climate change obligations to reduce our carbon emissions,” said Irish Senator Paudie Coffey.

“Innovative projects like Pisces can help us achieve carbon reductions in specific industries like the fishing sector, by delivering smart energy management systems that benefits the industry itself and delivers on tangible carbon reduction in our economy.”

Other goals in the project include establishing the inherent flexible capacity within fisheries and energy networks and to leverage this asset to realise economic returns for participating partners and the region including the possibility of additional investments.

Pisces will also investigate future trends in relation to EU directives, which aim to remove obstacles in the energy market.

“This project is a great example of how organisations collaborating across the Irish Sea, with the support of EU funds, can innovate together to assist SMEs address common challenges of reducing energy costs whilst also reducing their carbon footprint,” said David Kelly, assistant director – EU Programmes Division of the Southern Regional Assembly.

Last month it was revealed that researchers at TSSG were conducting research into rewiring the brain to cure Alzheimer’s disease.

Updated, 3.55pm, 6 July 2017: The intro to this article has been amended to clarify the funding for the project

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic