Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO Marine Institute, was one of four keynote speakers to address The Summit Session “What people don’t know about the oceans – and should care about” at the prestigious French EU Presidency BioMarine 2008 Forum in Marseille on 22nd October.
Dr Heffernan was joined in the Summit Session by Dr Tony Haymet, Director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (USA), Sandra Bessudo, Executive Director of the Malpelo Foundation (Colombia) and David de Rothschild, Co-Director of the UK Plastiki Expedition. All speakers emphasised the importance of the health of the ocean as a key to maintaining a healthy planet and the need to better communicate both the wonder of the oceans and the threats faced by neglect and mismanagement.
Dr Heffernan’s presentation on “How little we know about the ocean beyond our coastline”, broadcast simultaneously in French and English, stressed the need to map and access real-time data on what goes on beneath the waves if we are to think seriously about the sustainable management of our seas and marine resources.
Asked what we could do to achieve good ocean governance, Dr Heffernan pointed to the leadership provided by the EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs, Dr Joe Borg, and the recent Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union. “Members States and citizens alike”, he said, “need to actively support the implementation of this policy which sought to achieve a thriving maritime economy in harmony with the environment, supported by sound science and technology”
Also present at the BioMarine 2008 Forum were six young Irish researchers, recipients of Marine Institute BioMarine 2008 Travel Awards. They were; Ms Gwendolin Porst (TCD), Dr Myriam Callier (UCD), Dr Fionnuala McBreen (TCD), Dr Maxim Kozachenko(UCC) and Mr Ciaran Peyton (UCD) and Mr Michael Haverty (NUIG). They were joined by Mr Julien Chopelet of (UCD).
One of the young researchers, Dr Fionnulala McBreen said that participation in the BioMarine 2008 had been extremely valuable in allowing her to view her work in terms of the wider European context. "It is so easy to become so involved with the minute details of your own particular research project that you lose sight of the overall contribution that you, and all the other Irish marine researchers are making to pushing forward the horizons of knowledge about the oceans," she said. "BioMarine 2008 has allowed me to see the big picture in terms of the importance of marine research to the sustainable development of our oceans - in Ireland, in Europe and across the globe."