Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources Mr. Noel Dempsey T.D. today (October 12th) explored the new state-of-the-art headquarters and laboratory facilities of the Marine Institute at Oranmore, Co. Galway, whose mission it is to unlock the potential of Ireland’s 220 million acres of seabed territory. The Irish marine sector already has a turnover of €3 billion annually and supports over 44,000 jobs, 56% of which are in peripheral regions of the country.
Following his arrival at the purpose-designed centre, the Minister was briefed by the CEO Dr. Peter Heffernan. This featured a preview of Sea Change – A Marine Research and Innovation Strategy for Ireland 2007 – 2013, the new national seven-year plan to harness research and innovation in boosting competitiveness in existing marine industries, create new capacities in the fields of marine biotechnology, technology, functional foods, renewable energy and climate change, and support future policy in the areas of environmental research, information management and socio-economic and legal research.
The Minister then toured the facility, meeting the staff and taking in demonstrations of the Institute’s work in support of his Department, including seabed mapping and tidal prediction, forecasting and analysis of harmful algal blooms, detection of trace metals and other pollutants in marine foods, salmon tagging and fish stock management.
“It is very evident to me that the government’s commitment to create a world-class capability in marine science is well on the way to being met,” said Minister Dempsey. “I am excited with the developments happening here at the Marine Institute and fully support the Sea Change strategy to establish Ireland as a world leader in marine research and development. I look forward to its publication following the Government’s announcement of the National Development Plan.”
The Oranmore facility of the Marine Institute was officially opened by An Taoiseach, Mr. Bertie Ahern on World Ocean Day, 9th June, this year. The 11,000 square meter building includes 54 scientific laboratories, offices, a 146-seat auditorium, meeting rooms, library and staff facilities. The Institute also operates the two state research-vessels RV Celtic Explorer and RV Celtic Voyager, as well as laboratory facilities at Newport, Co. Mayo.