A decision has been taken to discontinue the activities of Taighde Mara Teo, the Údarás na Gaeltachta marine research subsidiary company. This decision was made following an assessment by Údarás na Gaeltachta of the company’s future in light of changes in the marine sector in recent years.
Údarás na Gaeltachta, and its predecessor, Gaeltarra Éireann, pioneered the development of the aquaculture sector – both shellfish and finfish – in the Gaeltacht in the 1970s and 1980s. Taighde Mara Teo was established in 1983 to advise Údarás na Gaeltachta on the development of the sector and to carry out research at a time when such services were not as widely available as they are today. In it’s early years, special emphasis was placed by the company on research in the following fields:
Research was also carried out on oysters and clams in Cuan na Beirtrí Buí and in Cuan Cill Chiaráin in West Conamara and significant research was also carried out on cultivating sea-urchins. In recent years the company has, for the most part, provided a consultancy service with little funding available for research purposes.
The wide range of expertise now available from organisations such as The Marine Institute in Oranmore and National University of Ireland, Galway’s Martin Ryan Institute, with its research unit in Carna, Conamara, and the marine research activities of other third level institutions such as National University of Ireland, Cork, and the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology has impacted greatly on Údarás na Gaeltachta’s assessment of it’s need to continue its own marine research activity. Factors also considered in making this decision were the recommendations from two reports published at the end of 2006 , the “Cawley Report” commissioned by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (as was) and the Marine Institute’s “Sea Change” strategy, both and addressing the development of the marine resource in Ireland. The recommendations in those reports which pertain to the activities of Údarás na Gaeltachta focus on the provision of support for the development of the productive sector in both aquaculture and processing.
Funding for Taighde Mara Teoranta in the recent past has been by way of Government approval for Údarás na Gaeltachta to fund the company’s activities for a five year period up to 2008 subject to annual approval within that period by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. As it approaches the end of the current 5 year funding period for Taighde Mara Teoranta, it is the considered opinion of Údarás na Gaeltachta that its energy should be focussed on implementing its marine development programme and acquire research expertise as required from specialist organisations. A significant national budget is now available to organisations and institutes engaged in marine research and Údarás will draw directly from such expertise rather than that of it’s subsidiary company as it did previously.
The Board and management of Údarás na Gaeltachta would like to extend their thanks to Taighde Mara Teo’s current staff of five and all those who have worked in the company since its establishment for their contribution to the development of the aquaculture sector in the Gaeltacht.