The INFOMAR annual seminar is taking place at the Marine Institute, Oranmore today (19th October) with 130 seabed mapping experts, marine researchers, and marine technology companies attending to review 10 years of Ireland's national seabed mapping programme. The seminar will also look at latest innovative technology developments including use of drone and satellite technology to assist the seabed mapping programme. The INFOMAR programme, jointly managed by the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) and the Marine Institute, is moving into the second phase of a 20 year programme to create detailed maps of Ireland's marine territory – an area 10 times the country's land mass.
Dr. Peter Heffernan, CEO Marine Institute, said, "It's exciting to see so many examples here today of researchers, and industry using INFOMAR data collected over the last 10 years with very real benefits to society, across a range of sectors from fisheries to aquaculture, marine renewable energy, and marine tourism and leisure. The Seminar provides a great opportunity to engage with industry, government, the public, and researchers so that we can maximise the benefits and opportunities for Ireland."
The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE) has allocated €4m to the programme for 2017, a 25% increase on the 2016 budget, bringing the expenditure back in line with profiled annual costs to deliver the programme.
Koen Verbruggen, Director, Geological Survey of Ireland said, "The DCCAE funding allocation for 2017 shows the ongoing commitment to the delivery of the INFOMAR programme, which is a key action of the Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth – An Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland. The programme's information products and services are essential to underpin sustainable development & marine resource management across the maritime sectors in Ireland, and independent studies estimate that INFOMAR outputs will provide a 4-6 times return on investment."
The seminar today will highlight INFOMAR related industry and academic projects funded through the 2015 GSI funded research short call. These projects have a strong coastal focus, ranging from innovative deployment and technology development of coastal mapping tools, instrumentation, and data delivery systems, through to training, education and marine tourism development.
INFOMAR is one of the largest civilian seabed mapping projects in the world and Ireland has gained international recognition for its vision and expertise in this area. Phase two of the programme (2016-2026) is focussing on collecting and using seabed mapping data to support marine spatial planning and the sustainable development of sectors such as fisheries, aquaculture, marine renewable energy and tourism and leisure. Over 25,000 sq.km has been mapped since the programme began in 2006, providing detailed maps of all 26 bays and three coastal areas which were prioritised for phase one, on time and on budget.
Survey activity has now resumed on Ireland's continental shelf (depths down to 200m) supporting ocean renewable energy development, fisheries management, and environmental baseline data gathering. Coastal mapping continues to take place in parallel, for safe navigation, coastal risk management, and sustainable development of infrastructure, aquaculture, and marine tourism and leisure.
INFOMAR has supported numerous national strategic initiatives (e.g. Ireland's Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan), it has provided data for safe navigation and transport, and output knowledge and technology for government and industry decision support (e.g. environmental impact studies, habitat and resource mapping). With developments in marine spatial planning, increased monitoring and reporting requirements under EU Directives (e.g. MSFD), and a move towards ecosystem based fisheries management, seabed mapping data are of critical importance in the future sustainable development of Irelands marine resources.
For more information please contact Lisa Fitzpatrick/Sinéad Coyne, Marine Institute,
lisa [dot] fitzpatrick [at] marine [dot] ie / Sinead [dot] coyne [at] marine [dot] ie