Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD joined global community representatives at the fifth Our Ocean Conference which was recently (29th – 30th October) held in Bali, Indonesia.
The Our Ocean series of conferences began in the USA in 2014 with the aim of bringing the international community together to commit to global action to ensure safe, secure and healthy oceans. Discussions at this year's conference focused on maritime security, marine pollution, sustainable fisheries, climate change, the blue economy and marine litter.
The Marine Institute welcomes the Irish commitments announced at the Our Ocean Conference which includes the provision of €25 million to assist in the procurement of a new 50 metre modern research vessel that would replace the RV Celtic Voyager.
"The vessel will provide critical national infrastructure to enable Ireland to address the considerable challenges of Brexit and the Common Fisheries Policy as well as climate induced impacts on our oceans," explained Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute.
The marine research vessel will be used to undertake fisheries research, oceanographic and environmental research, and seabed mapping and surveys, and will also be tasked with maintaining and deploying weather buoys, observational infrastructure and Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs).
The Marine Institute has also committed €2 million towards a new five-year programme of Ocean and Climate research. With 50% funding from the EU ERDF scheme, the Marine Institute is running a competitive funding call to support the establishment of a Principal Investigator-led research team in an Irish Higher Education Institution.
"This is a key investment to build capacity in an area of research prioritised under the National Marine Research and Innovation Strategy (2017-2021)," Dr Heffernan said. "The research funded under this programme will deliver societally-relevant knowledge aimed at better understanding the complex interactions between the ocean and climate change."
Minister Creed also announced the continued commitment to the Environmental Educational module of Ireland's Green Schools programme, and the continued support of the Clean Coast Programme.
"These programmes aim to build on Ireland's marine and maritime heritage by increasing awareness of the value, opportunities and social benefits of our ocean wealth and identity, further supporting the Marine Institute's Explorers Education Programme," Dr Heffernan said.
Other announcements by Ireland include the provision of €10m to the local authority sector in Ireland to aid in the establishment of four Climate Action Regional Offices (CAROs) and €1m over a five-year period (2019-2024) towards a new programme of Ocean and Climate research in an Irish Higher Education Institution.
The Marine Institute also welcomes the commitments announced by the European Commission which includes €300 million for EU-funded initiatives for projects to tackle plastic pollution, make the blue economy more sustainable and improve research and marine surveillance.