The Marine Institute (Foras na Mara) has today (8th September) welcomed the European Commission’s European Strategy for Marine and Maritime Research: A coherent European Research Area framework in support of a sustainable use of oceans and seas. The strategy is one of 65 key actions designed to support the implementation of an Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union (October 2007).
Welcoming the publication, Marine Institute, CEO, Dr Peter Heffernan said that “the strategy recognises the importance of the European Maritime Economy and the critical role of marine science and technology in its development. The strategy sets out an approach that is very compatible with, and complementary to, that set out by the Irish Government in the National Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation (2006-2013)."
The Marine Institute played a key role in the formulation of the very influential Galway (2004) and Aberdeen (2007) Declarations which paved the way for the new strategy. Dr Heffernan, himself, chaired key stakeholder meetings in Brussels, Bremen, Aberdeen and Lisbon, which secured Marine Science and Technology as a key component of the Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union adopted in October 2007.
The principle aim of the Marine and Maritime Research Strategy is to mobilise Europe’s very considerable marine and maritime science and technology capabilities. This in turn will support the aims and objectives of the Integrated Maritime Policy for the Union which is to develop a thriving maritime economy in an environmentally sustainable manner.
The Strategy outlines a number of the challenges for science and technology in addressing, for example, climate change and the impact of human activities on coastal and marine ecosystems. It supports evidence-based policy making in areas such as the implementation of an ecosystem approach to marine resource management, maritime spatial planning, ocean governance and maritime economics and transport. It highlights new technology and knowledge-based commercial opportunities, for example, in renewable ocean energy, value-added bio-products from the sea (e.g. blue biotechnology), the deep-sea frontier, new innovations in ocean observation. These are issues that Ireland is already addressing as part of Sea Change – A Marine Knowledge, Research and Innovation Strategy for Ireland 2007 – 2013.
The Strategy sets out a number of measures and mechanisms to improve efficiency and reduce fragmentation. It will support capacity building, both in terms of specialist European infrastructures and new cross-disciplinary expertise. It proposes a more efficient use of existing (and new) human and financial resources and seeks to maximise the use of Commission and Member State funding mechanisms in support of the maritime economy. It explores new forms of governance and partnership to implement the strategy.
Yvonne Shields, Director of Strategic Planning and Development, and manager of the Irish Sea Change Strategy, said that “the EU Marine Research Strategy provides an important regional context for the Irish Sea Change Strategy. The two strategies are mutually supportive and identify similar priorities. This provides a considerable opportunity to leverage matching EU funding and carry out joint projects based on the significant investments already made and planned under the Sea Change Strategy.
The marine research strategy is fully aligned with, and supportive of, other EU policies including: the development of a knowledge economy (Lisbon, 2000); the principles sustainable development (Gothenburg 2001); the Marine (Environment) Strategy Framework Directive (2008) and the establishment of a European Research Area (ERA) (2007). Indeed, it represents one of the first attempts to establish an ERA within a specific research sector.