Foras na Mara

Stakeholders Gather to Discuss a Future Maritime Policy for Ireland

An important Stakeholder Conference to discuss topics raised during the consultation process leading to a national position on the EU Green Paper "Towards a Future Maritime Policy for Ireland" took place on Tuesday 6th March in Dublin.

The event was organised by the Marine Institute and the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources and was addressed by both EU Commissioner Joe Borg and Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Mr John Browne T.D. The event was facilitated by broadcaster and historian Dr John Bowman.

The European vision of an all-embracing maritime policy is being actively supported by Commissioner Joe Borg, who promised that he will take this initiative forward to a European White Paper, which represents a concrete policy proposal for the European Union.

"This is an excellent example of the integrated approach we hope others will also take," said Commissioner Borg. "Ireland's initiative matches our wishes to listen to the widest possible range of views so as to ensure the best possible outcome for an EU-wide maritime policy with added value." 

Link to full text of Commissioner Borg's speech

The central theme of the Maritime Green Paper is that until now, there has been no joined up thinking regarding the marine sector in Brussels and that European policies on everything from maritime transport, industry, coastal regions, offshore energy, fisheries and aquaculture, to the marine environment and the socio-economic issues of coastal communities have developed separately with no attempt at co-ordination.

The Green Paper argues that, because of the new United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the globalisation of industry and the emergence of new technologies, both on land and at sea, the marine sector needs to be addressed in a holistic and interconnected way rather than viewing each sub-sector in isolation.

Speaking at the Conference, Minister Browne said, "As an island nation with over 220 million acres of maritime territory it is vitally important that Ireland continues to play a key role in development of maritime policy in the EU. The Maritime Green Paper represents a significant challenge but also an important opportunity for Ireland and the EU to apply new strategies and innovative thinking for the wider marine sector. The Government position will be prepared and ready for a timely response to the European Commission in April." 

Details of the EU Green Paper can be obtained athttp://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/maritime_affairs_and_fisheries/maritime_affairs/l66029_en.htm

The EU Green Paper – Towards a Future Maritime Policy for the Union: A European vision of the oceans and seas – is a response to the mandate given to the EU Maritime Affairs Task Force, under the direction of a Steering Group of Commissioners, to examine the economic activities of Europeans which are linked to, or impact on, the oceans and seas, and the policies dealing with them, with a view to finding better ways of enabling Europeans to derive more – and sustainable – benefit from the oceans.

The EU Maritime Green paper is designed to gather ideas for incorporation into an overall European policy on the marine sector. It is designed to stimulate debate amongst all stakeholders, at all levels. It is not designed to provide instant answers to problems, but to ask questions about what those problems are and how they might be addressed through changes to European policy.

The Green Paper argues that, because of the new United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the globalisation of industry and the emergence of new technologies, both on land and at sea, the marine sector needs to be addressed in a holistic and interconnected way rather than viewing each sub-sector in isolation.

With this in mind, the Green Paper is divided into five interconnected subject areas aimed at rekindling the pride Europeans once had in their maritime heritage and traditional marine industries - such as fishing, shipping and shipbuilding and redeveloping these industries, along with a whole range of new activities such as renewable ocean energy, marine leisure and tourism, blue biotechnology and aquaculture in a sustainable way for the good of coastal communities and Europe as a whole through:

* Retaining Europe’s leadership in Sustainable Maritime Development

* Maximising the quality of life in coastal regions

* Providing the tools to manage our relations with the oceans

* Maritime Governance

* Reclaiming Europe’s maritime heritage and reaffirming Europe’s maritime industry

National, corporate, organisational and individual submissions are being gathered by the Commission from all over Europe at present as part of the Europe-wide consultation process with end on the 30th June 2007. By the end of 2007 the Commission will address a Communication to the European Council and Parliament, summarising the results of the consultation process and proposing a way forward.

Full text of Minister Browne's speech at the event

National Stakeholder Conference on the EU Maritime Green Paper

Please Check Against Delivery

Dublin, 6 March 2007

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning and welcome to our National Stakeholder Conference on the EU Maritime Green Paper.

I am very happy to see that we have had an excellent turn out today and I want to thank you all for making the effort to attend, particularly those of you who have had to travel to today’s event. I would also thank Commissioner Borg who has taken the time to participate and who will, in a moment, say a few words about the Green Paper.

This Conference represents an opportunity to further explore the issues raised by the Green

Paper and facilitate the involvement of you, the stakeholders. While many of those present will already have submitted views, this forum provides an additional chance to contribute to the debate and discussion around the development of European Maritime Policy.

The submissions received during the consultation process and the views expressed here today will help the relevant Departments and the Marine Institute in drafting a national position on the Green Paper in the coming weeks. Minister Dempsey and I hope to have a Government position prepared and ready for a timely response to the European Commission in April.

Of course, the Green paper consultation is just the first step in a process: I understand that the Commission are intending to bring forward proposals arsing from the Green Paper consultation process in autumn but perhaps I will leave it to Dr Borg to talk more about that.

It is timely that the European Commission has published an EU Green Paper on Maritime Policy as it is a very exciting time for the marine sector in Ireland with a number of major developments currently underway. I feel that Ireland has a lot to offer the European Community and hope that the investment in knowledge and resources in which Ireland has invested over the years can be put to good use in helping to ensure the sustainable development of a European maritime sector.

At the end of January this year the Taoiseach, Minister Dempsey and I launched the Government’s National Seafood Strategy. This strategy based on work conducted by Dr Noel Cawley among others, is aimed at developing the Irish seafood sector in a sustainable, profitable and competitive manner. The strategy has the potential to generate over €1 billion for the economy and to provide a sustainable livelihood for people living and working in coastal communities.

The strategy will involve investment of almost €600 million from the public and private sector funding and is a major commitment to the Irish seafood sector.

Turning to research and innovation in the marine sector, Minister Dempsey launched a number of major initiatives just a few weeks ago on his visit to the Marine Institute in Galway.

Firstly, there is the National Marine Research and Innovation Strategy or the Sea Change Strategy. The strategy highlights the need to focus on market-led opportunities in sustainable energy, food production, transport, technology and environmental well-being. A total of €365 million is being committed to this strategy which will deliver the type of high-growth, high-value added industries and jobs that will ensure Ireland’s competitiveness and the sustainability of coastal communities.

Complementing this strategy is a new awards scheme with a budget of €20 million over 7 years. It will support marine research activities in 3rd level institutes. This scheme will enhance Ireland’s already substantial European and international reputation in marine research and innovation.

While the Sea Change Strategy and the awards scheme are not directly linked to the Green paper they are consistent with the principles underlying it.

The Green Paper, as everyone here is no doubt aware, cuts across a range of sectors and issues including maritime transport, industry, coastal regions, energy, fisheries, aquaculture, the marine environment and socio-economic cohesion.

As such, it represents a significant challenge but also an important opportunity for Ireland and the EU to apply new strategies and innovative thinking for the wider marine sector.

Ireland’s contribution to the formulation of the Green Paper has been referred to, on a number of occasions by Commissioner Borg and is referenced in the Green Paper itself. Specifically the EUROCEAN Conference held in 2004 during the Irish Presidency, which culminated in the “Galway Declaration”, is cited as influencing the Green Paper’s message of the imperative of sustainable development of the oceans and seas.

I think that is something that we can be justifiably proud of and I would like to thank Dr Peter Heffernan and his colleagues in the Marine Institute for their contribution to that process. Indeed I would like to note the consistently excellent work that Peter and his team have delivered over the years and for their hard work in organising today’s event.

Finally, I would like to say that as an island nation with over 220 million acres of maritime territory I think it is vitally important that Ireland continue to play a key role in development of maritime policy in the EU. As part of this process Minister Dempsey and I are committed to the formulation of a well thought-out position paper for submission to the European Commission. In order to achieve this we need your participation.

I would like to ask everyone contributing today to bear in mind that what is being discussed is European maritime policy and how Ireland can contribute to that. The implications and opportunities that will arise from this process are in a sense for another day.

Thank you again for making the effort to come along today - I am looking forward to what I am sure we will be a day of interesting and stimulating discussion.

ENDS