The INFOMAR team from the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) and the Marine Institute (MI) opened their Annual Seminar for 2014 in the Tower Hotel, Waterford. The Seminar will showcase seabed mapping activity and developments during 2014 as part of Ireland’s national marine mapping initiative, INFOMAR, increasing awareness of Ireland’s marine landscape.
The INFOMAR programme carries out hydrographic & geophysical surveys of Irish territorial waters. It is a cooperative programme between the Geological Survey of Ireland and the Marine Institute and is funded by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.
This ambitious mapping initiative began in 2006, and in its first 10 years will successfully map 26 priority bays and 3 priority offshore areas. Using INFOMAR resources, skilled experts based at the GSI and MI develop data products, primarily hydrographic and geological maps that detail the Irish marine territory. These maps are now available for scrutiny amongst all of the other ancillary data on http://www.infomar.ie/data.
Minister of State Joe McHugh T.D. said “The Government has been strongly supportive of this project, committing €15 Million for the 5 year period from 2014 – 2018. With this continued funding support, Ireland is at the leading edge of European work in marine mapping and in laying the foundations for the sustainable management of our ocean space. The Minster pointed out that “This year a further €3 million is being invested under the INFOMAR project in Surveying the gateways to our ports, mapping our fish spawning grounds, finding routes for marine telecommunications cables and selecting the best sites for ocean energy generation. All rely on accurate seabed mapping capability, which Ireland now possesses.”
The 2014 INFOMAR Annual Seminar will provide an update on progress and plans, and focus on the downstream value and application of the data to underpin development and growth across the marine sector. New INFOMAR products and services are continuously evolving, and the event will see the launch of a new education programme, a prototype dive tourism mobile app, and INFOMAR Story Maps.
Welcoming the launch, Koen Verbruggen, Director of the Geological Survey of Ireland, pointed out that the long term benefits to Ireland, as a result of INFOMAR’s offshore mapping are significant, and include:
Datasets that feed directly into updated nautical charts via the United Kingdom Hydroghaphic Office.
Up-to-date advanced mapping facilitates greater awareness of Irish marine opportunities.
The data are used in planning of protection and development offshore Ireland.
This project is also highlighting data and knowledge gaps for further exploration and research.
New international research links have been forged between the surveys and agencies, which is resulting in related projects and employment.
Dr Peter Heffernan, Chief Executive of the Marine Institute said ” The Government has prioritised the marine as an area for further growth under the Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth Strategy and the information on Ireland’s vast seabed territory that INFOMAR is capturing and making available will provide a solid platform for sustainable development and growth.
Over 130 attendees are expected to attend the day and a half seminar.