Speaker Bios 2023


Dr Conor McTiernan is a tourism and hospitality management lecturer in the Department of Tourism and Sport in Atlantic Technological University and a work package leader on REMODEL, a Horizon Europe Wider Access project.
Conor’s teaching and research focuses on sustainable tourism policy development,tourism networks, innovation, knowledge management and trust in tourism SMTE’s.
Heis a member the Irish Hospitality Institute, the First International Network of Trust and is the Co-Chair of the Tourism committee for the Laurentic Forum.


Sonja Mills grew up in the town of Clarenville,Newfoundland. After obtaining law and MBA degrees from Dalhousie University, she practiced law forseveral years in Toronto, Vancouver and Halifax before returning to the town of Port Rexton,Newfoundland to start the Port Rexton Brewing Company with Alicia MacDonald in 2016.
Aside from enjoying craft beer, Sonja enjoys spending her freetime skiing, hiking, biking, rock climbing and traveling.


James Doherty has co-founded and led the development of Sliabh Liag Distillers. He has held multiple managing director positions at William Grant & Sons Distillers Ltd, Foster’s and SABMiller beforesetting up Sliabh Liag Distillers and has a first-class record of brand development in international markets.James is currently the Chair of the Irish Whiskey Association and an enthusiastic but poor fisherman.


 Catherine is a Masters by research student with ATUDonegal. Her research has been focused on the Irish craft beverage visitor experience, explored both the supply and demand side of the visitor experience. The aim of this research is to establish best practice guidelines for tourism centre development in Irish craft beverage production to ensure excellence in visitor experience. This research will also contribute to the wider Irish visitor experience.


Gerry Osmond has served in the Newfoundland andLabrador government for the past 14+ years i variouspositions and was appointed Assistant DeputyMinister: Arts and Culture in 2021.
Prior to this, Gerry served as CEO of the Kings Landing Historical Settlement (Crown Corporation) in New Brunswick and Executive Director of the Alberta Museums Association. He has a BA (Archaeology) from Memorial University, a MA in Museum Studies from Newcastle University (UK), a Certificate in Public Sector Leadership and Management Development from the Gardiner Centre, Memorial University and isa Certified Association Executive.


In 2020 Michael retired as Director of the Economics and Strategic Service division of an Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM). His career includes sea going service with Irish Shipping and Irish Lights, lecturing in Trinity College, Dublin, and a period as population biologist with Ireland’s Marine Institute. During this time, he was a member of the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries of the European Union, the scientific panel of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna.
For the past three years he has worked with the Killybegs Fisherman’s Organisation and Swedish wind farm developer,Hexicon BV, exploring new approaches to the development of offshore wind, in particular the co-existence of the North West’s vibrant fishing industry and offshore renewables.


Jonas R Vidarsson is the Director of the division of value creation at Matís, which is the Icelandic food and biotech R&D institute. Matís is among the leading institutes in Europe when it comes to research and innovation in marine food, feed and ingredients value chains, working closely with academia and industry across Europe. Jonas holds degrees in Fisheries science, Natural resource management, and Environmental science. Prior to his scientific career, he worked as a fisherman on a number of Icelandic fishing vessels for 13 years, and he has also worked in fish processing plants and net making factories.
Among Jonas’s expertise are studies related to the entire value chain od products and
circular economy.


Paul Dobbins leads the World Wildlife Fund project “Advancing Seaweed and Shellfish Aquaculture for Climate Change and Societal Gain”. A former shellfish and seaweed farmer, he led the development of the US’ first open ocean commercial kelp farms. He served on a number of significant advisory boards related to aquaculture. He currently serves as a US Delegate to the International Commission for Exploration of the Seas working group on offshore aquaculture, the Council for Manomet, and as an advisor to several federally funded aquaculture research projects in North America and Europe.


Dr Maria Hayes has worked extensively with the marine sector since 2008 and is currently a senior scientific officer at the Teagasc Food Research Centre, the Irish Agricultural and Food Development Authority, in Dublin. She works on developing new products with health benefits through identification and characterisation of bioactive ingredients. Maria is interested in the Bio-economy and utilisation of our natural resources to their full potential. Her papers are widely published and she is editor and contributor to several books on marine natural product chemistry.


Marie has twenty five years of experience working in the maritime domain. She served as Captain of the LE AOIFE during her time in the Irish Navy and has experience in the arena of public policy, advocacy and stakeholder engagement. She has held consultancy roles in the areas of strategy, human performance factors and leadership. She is a qualified Executive Coach and a speaker focusing on leadership, resilience and communication. She is a Non Executive Director on the Board of Bord Iascaigh Mhara and was the 2021 30% Club Scholar on the UCD Smurfit Graduate Business School, Diploma in Corporate Governance. Marie is passionate about the power e potential of the blue economy.”


Kendra is the CEO for Canada’s Ocean Supercluster (OSC), responsible for driving the sustainable growth of Canada’s Ocean Economy. Along with the OSC team, Kendra is passionately commited to raising awareness of Canada’s ocean opportunity and role as an ocean nation.


Liam Curran is a Senior Technologist with Enterprise Ireland (EI). He has many years’ experience in the Marine sector and is the Enterprise Ireland co-ordinator of the Marine Ireland Industry Network Marine Ireland Industry Network (marine-ireland.ie) . He is currently extensively engaged with the Supply Chain for Offshore Wind and is the joint EI Lead of the Gael Offshore Network, Ireland’s SME Supply Chain for Global Offshore Wind Offshore Wind – The Irish Advantage . He is also currently working with colleagues in EI, IDA and Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DET tional Industrial Strategy for Offshore Wind.


Meadbh (Maeve) Seoighe (Joyce) works as a Strategic Tourism Development Executive with Údarásna Gaeltachta assisting tourism enterprises across the Gaeltacht to develop
their business plans and create employment. She works closely with the community enterprise sector in planning, funding and developing visitor attractions and is working with Fáilte Ireland on a range of Irish language tourism developments and strategic capital projects.
She is a former board member of the Galway Chamber of Commerce and the Letterkenny Institute of Technology (now ATU) and former chair of Ardánwhich promotes film and television development thewest of Ireland.



Mairead and Garry Anderson are the owners of Anderson’s Boathouse Restaurant Killybegs, which opened in 2019. This followed the Success of the ira ward-winning sister business Killybegs Seafood Shack. The restaurant overlooks Killybegs Harbour and specialises in freshly cooked seafood dishes.
Mairead is front of house and Garry runs the kitchen,having worked previously for Gordon Ramsay inClaridge’s, London and at Lough Eske Castle inDonegal.



 Traolach O Fionnáin is the Arts Officer with Donegal County Council, the local government authority for County Donegal. Working within the Council’s Culture Division, he manages a range of programmes supporting artists and arts organisations in the county,and is active in the areas of accessing funding,festivals and events, public art and commissioning and supporting new work.



Recently retired from the Department of English at Memorial University, Dr. Golfman was honoured with the distinction of Professor Emerita. She was the first woman appointed to the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies from 2008-2014, and to the office of the Provost and Vice President (Academic) from 2014-2020. For more than three decades, she has been the president of the ongoing MUN Cinema Series. In 1989, Dr. Golfman was a founding director of the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival.
Shehas been chairing the board of the Winterset inSummer Literary Festival for the last few years, andcontinues as Vice Chair of PictureNL.



Paul Hegarty is Head of College at the National Maritime College of Ireland. He previously served in the Irish Naval Service for 23 years and has held several sea-going appointments, notably having command of L.E. William Butler Yeats. Paul has served in a variety of command, staff and training appointments and was a Defence Forces lead on numerous expert panels. He was the sole military officer seconded to the secretariat for the Commission on the Defence Forces in 2022, and was editor of the Defence Forces Review in 2019 and 2020.


Máirtín Walsh is a graduate of the University of Huddersfield and has worked in aquaculture and seafood development within BIM for over 20 years.Previous roles have included development roles in seaweed, regional aquaculture development, business development and seafood processing. His work is now mainly in the area of social licence for aquaculture,managing projects that seek to engage and educate widely on the social, economic and environmental benefits of sustainable Irish aquaculture.


Retired as Regional Director General of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) for Newfoundland and Labrador, Kevin Anderson assumed his current position as Head, School of Fisheries at the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University in May 2020.
He held a variety of positions within Fishers and Oceans Canada, including Negotiator for the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement signed in 2005; Director of Conservation and Protection; and Regional Director of Fisheries and Aquaculture Management.
He holds a B.Ed. and BA from Memorial University, along with an M.Sc. in y from the London School of Economics.


Maren Sæther (MSc Biotechnology) is the processing and quality manager of Seaweed Solutions AS. With over 10 years experience in seaweed cultivation, she has been involved in developing and establishing seaweed processing methods that are currently being used to ensure high quality seaweed for food, feed, and other markets. She is also a board member of Norwegian Seaweed Association AS.
Seaweed Solutions is a Norwegian pioneer in seaweed cultivation and plays an important role in developing the farming industry in Norway. The company focus on cultivation and B2B sale of high, quality, organic certified Saccharina latissima a Alaria esculenta to food and other applications.


My role within Simply Blue is develop the seaweed business. Initially my focus will be applying and consenting a nearshore seaweed license and developing the business as a precursor to moving to an offshore context and developing aquaculture solutions that are capa ployed among our floating wind solutions.


Dr. Alexandra Leeper is passionate about the sustainable use of ocean resources. Her role is that of a scientist entrepreneur in the blue and circular economies. She completed an industrial doctorate in aquaculture and circular economy in 2021 in collaboration with Matís, Food and Biotech Iceland and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. She became Head of Research and Innovation at the Iceland Ocean Cluster in 2022 and Managing Director of International Affairs in 2023. She promotes the visibility of women in the startup sector and is a co-founder of Hringvarmi, an agri-tech startup that utilises waste heat for controlled environment food production.


Karl Bonner is the Cluster Manager and direct point of contact for Ireland’s only dedicated Blue Economy Marine Cluster. He holds a Masters in Sales Management, a Post Graduate Diploma in International Selling, and a Business Studies Degree from Edinburgh Napier University. Karl worked as registered consultant with Intertrade Ireland, completing several Trade Accelerator Vouchers (TAVs) Elevate and Acumen programme with businesses in a cross-border capacity. He successfully completed Enterprise Ireland National Entrepreneurship programme, New Frontiers and developed a seafood-
based pet food business.


Brian McDermott is a multi-award-winning celebrity chef, author and presenter from Co Donegal. He has built a national reputation as a chef on one simple belief;that tasty, healthy food, based around traditional recipes and local produce, is something everyone should enjoy.
Brian is presenter and MC for a number of food festivals around Ireland, is a regular TV Chef on RTE,has his own slot weekly on BBC Radio and is resident chef on Claire Byrne Show on RTE Radio.



Maggie Campbell is Business Advisor for The Food Coast Donegal. She is an experienced part qualified ACCA Accountant having graduated from Galway Mayo Institute of Technology.



John Shine is an ex fisherman and MD of ShinesSeafoods, established in 1993.
Shines Seafood are a family business based in Killybegs selling Ireland’s only Irish Tuna, Irish Sardines & Mackerel to both the retail and food services sectors. They are experts in all things Tuna and passionate about the consumption of seafood and the overall sustainability of the industry.


John Fisher’s background includes social planning,rural economic development and management consulting. He founded the literary journal RiddleFence and Business & Arts of Newfoundland and Labrador. He is the author of a best selling book on governance and management of community organisations. Beginning 1997 John and Peggy Fisher created Fishers’ Loft Inn which includes accommodation, an Executive Conference Centre and restaurant.


Martha McCulloch is a member of the coordinating team at Artlink, an artist led company based at Fort Dunree. She studied Fine Art at Glasgow School of Art,was Lecturer in photography at Sheffield Hallam University, then the first Director of Street Level Photoworks in Glasgow. She later returned to The Glasgow School of Art as a Lecturer in Fine Art Photography, moving to Donegal in 2000 to establish Memory Factory Photography along with Harry Kerr.


Captain Fitzgerald is the Director of External Affairs for Simply Blue Group and a member of the Seafood/ORE Working Group and a driving force behind Ireland’s Annual Seafarers’ Conference. Brian served for over 38 years in the Naval Service and served with the United Nations in Western Sahara. He holds Master’s degrees in Marine and Maritime Law(UCC), and Leadership, Management and Defence Studies (NUIM), a degree in Law (UCC), and a diploma in Public Relations (PRII). Brian lectures in law at UCC, is a certified workplace and family law Mediator (MII)and a member of the Board of the Charity GOAL-Global, and of Cork’s Chamber of Commerce.


As Business Development Manager, Irish Maritime Development Office at the
Marine Institute Edel hasled the strategic development of the national marine technology programme and SmartOcean initiative to ‘marinise’ Ireland’s strengths across ICT and engineering into new areas of the blue economy. She has led the development of international partnerships across research and industry, supporting the growth of Ireland’s reputation as a compelling place to do business in this sector.


Damien Toner is a Development & Innovation Executive with Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) based in Ireland. BIM is the National Seafood Development Agency and provides technical advice, funding and business advice to the aquaculture, fishing and processing sectors. He currently works in the area of Aquatech, focused on delivering innovative solutions to challenges within the sector in Ireland and globally.


Øystein Arlov is the Research Manager of the Industrial and Marine Biotechnology group at SINTEF Industry, which works with a large variation of bioprocesses and bioresources. Øystein’s main research interest is the extraction and functional characterization of marine biopolymers, particularly from macroalgae. His doctoral thesis was on biomedic f chemically sulfated alginates.


Benoît Queguineur received his PhD in Marine Science from the National University of Ireland, Galway followed by a post-doctorate study focusing on the large-scale cultivation of macroalgae.
His key areas of expertise are macroalgae biotechnology, innovative analytical techniques, EU project set up and watersport photography. He is a former Director Associate of ALGANACT SAS, and currently the partnership manager at ALGAIA SAS. ALGAIA is entirely focused on the manufacturing, sales and sustainable development of a wide range of products and services related to other natural botanical extracts.


Dr. Micheál Ó Cinnéide spent a decade as a Director with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a decade as Director of the Marine Environment team at the Marine Institute, was ministerial adviser in the Department of Marine and worked for eight years in Cill Chiaráin Connemara with the Irish Seafood Producers Group Ltd. He served as a diplomat at the Irish Embassy in Cairo a Consulate General of Ireland in New York.


Linn Indrestrand is Head of Fishery and Maritime Services at Port of Hirtshals. She also serves as a Project Manager at the Norwegian port in Giske Municipality, where she works toward the establishment of Gjøsund Fishing Port. This work aligns with her many responsibilities in Hirtshals, since there are several common areas of interest, such
as green corridors, circular port development, etc. Linn is also a board member at Danish Ocean Cluster, which is a sister cluster to Iceland Ocean Cluster. Finally, Linn is also involved in the development and positioning of Hirtshals Salmon Hub.