The first annual ‘Our Ocean Wealth Conference’ was opened in Dublin Castle today (18th June, 2014) by the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny T.D., to review the progress of Ireland’s first Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland, Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth.
The conference, attended by five Government Ministers – Simon Coveney, Pat Rabbitte, Sean Sherlock, Fergus O’Dowd and Jan O’Sullivan demonstrates a whole of Government approach to drive the three goals of Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth – a thriving maritime economy, healthy ecosystems and engaging with the sea.
Simon Coveney, Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine said: “Today’s event brings together some of the most important figures in the marine sector, and places it firmly in the spotlight as an industry with significant economic and social contribution to make. We have made very significant progress in achieving our initial ambition of placing the marine at the centre rather than on the periphery of Government policy.”
Pat Rabbitte Minister for Communications Energy & Natural Resources announced a new tax regime for offshore petroleum. Taxation provisions relating to petroleum exploration and production are to be revised upwards to provide for an increased financial return to the State from discoveries made under future exploration licences and licensing options. Minister Rabbitte said: “This should further engender industry confidence in the stability and predictability of Ireland’s oil and gas fiscal terms.”
Minister Coveney announced plans to introduce an appropriate Marine Spatial Planning system which will be led by Minister of State Jan O’Sullivan and her Department – Environment, Community and Local Government – with the support of the Marine Institute.
Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO Marine Institute highlighted the key role of research and innovation in delivering the goals of Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth:
“Research and innovation is at the heart of new opportunities and emerging areas and we are confident that as a country we have a very strong research and innovation engine, and we are well positioned now to deliver targeted results”.
Dr Heffernan also highlighted Ireland’s successful performance in international marine research including EU earnings. Marine research accounted for over 8% of all Irish FP7 EU funds secured through 2013.
The Conference was opened by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, T.D. and included contributions from Minister Coveney, Pat Rabbitte, T.D., Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources; Sean Sherlock, T.D., Minister for Research & Innovation; and Fergus O’Dowd, T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. Minister Susan Sullivan from the Government of Newfoundland /Labrador, Canada also spoke at the Conference.
The Keynote Address was delivered by Miguel Marques, Economy of the Sea: Executive Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers on the subject of A Global Perspective on the Economy of the Sea. The Conference covered four main themes: The Global Opportunity for Irish Seafood; Research & Innovation and Emerging Sectors; Energy – Offshore Hydrocarbons and Where Land Meets the Sea – Opportunities and Challenges for Marine Tourism. Key speakers addressed these four themes followed by a panel discussion with relevant stakeholders.
The Conference was attended by over 400 delegates from the public and private sector with an involvement in the marine sector.