Ireland's first cod hatchery is to be established in Carna, Connemara, next September as part of a €19 million marine research programme directed by NUI Galway.
Not only cod, but also halibut and turbot are to be targeted as species with marine farm potential, according scientists at the Galway university.
A report published yesterday for the Minister for the Marine, Mr Fahey, suggests that haddock, sea bass and hake may even be suitable for the €82 million Irish aquaculture industry.
The programme being undertaken by the Martin Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, which was also endorsed yesterday by the Minister, involves funding of €13 million provided by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) and €6 million from the US. Atlantic Philanthropies Ltd in the US is supporting the development under a public-private partnership.
The HEA grant was confirmed some months ago, as part of a €35.6 million tranche to support research at the university.
Speaking at yesterday's function, the college president, Dr Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh, said the marine science research proposal spanned 14 areas.
He said the areas covered ranged from biological and physical to legal and would involve several faculties.
The University of Limerick, University College Cork and Trinity College Dublin are also collaborating in the programme.
The first section of the programme - establishing the State's first "pre-commercial" cod hatchery in Carna - is also being supported by Údaras na Gaeltachta and the Marine Institute, Trout Ireland Ltd and Bord Iascaigh Mhara.
Its results will influence the move to diversity into farmed fish species other than salmon and trout.
Speaking at yesterday's function in NUI Galway, the Minister said he wanted to ensure a "sustainable and vibrant future" for the aquaculture sector and the communities it supported.