Kate Dempsey is the CEO and founder of Aqualicense, Ondine and Irish Mussel Seed Company (Offshore Mussel Farm in Ireland) as well as a founder and director of the Tethra Offshore Renewable Energy portfolio. She is passionate about Irish marine development and the production of both food and energy from ocean resources. Kate firmly believes that any business operating in the marine space can be cognisant of the resultant environmental pressures so that mitigation is built into the initial project planning. Among other positions, Kate sits on the OEWG on Gender Equality and Women’s and Girls’ Empowerment as it relates to food security supporting the UN Committee on World Food Security. Kate holds an honours Irish Law Degree, HDip in business in Aquabusiness and is an Irish Aquaculture Nuffield Scholar.
I have over 16 years’ experience in the marine sector, studying and working in the areas of marine ecology and microbiology and aquaculture. During this time, I have gained extensive field and vessel experience and participated in 8 major offshore expeditions. Following a five-year research turned project management role at the University of Texas, I returned to Ireland in 2020 and I am thoroughly enjoying working within the Irish marine sector. I hope to continue to play a role in helping protect our marine ecosystems as we secure energy and food resources for future generations and Aqualicense is a perfect fit for such ambitions. When not in the office, I love sitting in the campervan by the ocean with Bella the cocker spaniel!
I developed a strong interest in Aquaculture during my final year in UCC, through my thesis which I undertook in the Aquaculture Development Centre in the Cooperage. I have spent 20 years working in aquaculture in Ireland, Scotland and Lake Volta in West Africa, in both hatchery and on-growing production facilities and with a range of species including salmon, trout, tilapia and cod. I have experience managing small and large teams, and I love working with people and seeing people grow and develop over their career. Aquaculture is my passion and I believe through our work at Aqualicense, we can help boost the Aquaculture industry and encourage the smart, sustainable use of our marine resources allowing Ireland to realise it’s massively untapped potential. When not in the office, I enjoy spending time with my family and watching sport…while also dreaming about aquaculture!
My experience with the aquaculture sector started in 2010 as a hatchery technician in the Como Lake restocking centre, Italy and it was here I gained the experience to become a farm manager here in Ireland. During these years I worked across Europe with RAS and IMTA systems, open cages and flow through farms with several different freshwater species such as perch (out-of season), pikeperch, whitefish, pike, trout, grayling and arctic charr. My main specialisation is in hatchery and broodstock management as well as aquaponics production (certification) and circular economy, but I also have experience in managing aquaculture related EU funded projects, with a focus on Innovation. In 2019, I was awarded as one of the ‘’top 10 under 40’’ hatchery professionals of the world by the magazine ‘’Hatchery International’’. When not in the office I love to spend time with my family and enjoy fly fishing, cycling and literature.
I joined Aqualicense in September 2022 as Stakeholder Manager. I have spent 20 years documenting marine and coastal issues for film and television, in particular capturing the relationship between fishing communities and energy companies, both in Ireland and abroad. I hope to take that experience and apply it in a constructive manner so that coastal communities can benefit from new opportunities arising from offshore renewables. The challenges of climate change and energy security require big solutions implemented on a tight schedule, and by listening to the local communities, I am confident that real co-existence can be achieved in the marine space and through the work we do here at Aqualicense. When not in the office, I can be found cycling up and down the coast mulling over the endless opportunities over the horizon!
Having grown up in a fishing community and making a career myself in the sector, I know first-hand the effort, the hard work and the perseverance that is involved while working in fisheries. I speak the language of the fisher people, and that combined with my understanding of renewable energy developments and their importance to facilitate needed change around our energy resources, makes my role at Aqualicense the perfect fit. I do what I do because I would like to think of someone with the same level of empathy, compassion and understanding walking down the local fishing pier to engage with my own father. When not in the office, you will find me working on the farm or out with my father fishing pots!
I have been developing my expertise in marine planning and aquaculture since graduating from my Master’s program in 2020. Some highlights of my time in study to date have been receiving the Prof. Mary Crawley Award for Contributions to Geography and the Joey Murrin Memorial Award for my work during a Higher Diploma in Business in Fisheries and Aquaculture. I relish a challenging work environment, and at Aqualicense I am provided with the tools and connections to actively drive change in the world, and move towards a sustainable future. When not in the office, I enjoy hiking, snowboarding, and training for agility competitions with my dog, Bertie!