EU Maritime Day Stakeholders Conference 2010

Gijon SessionIreland could add value to its traditional marine industries such as seafood, martime transport and safety by harnessing exciting new and emerging technologies such as smart sensors, cloud computing and digital imaging, according to Marine Institute chief executive Dr. Peter Heffernan, who was speaking at the European Maritime Day Stakeholders Conference in Gijon, Spain last week (19th May).


Dr. Peter Heffernan, CEO, Marine Institute (Ireland), Isabella Lovin, MEP (Sweden) and Vice-Chair of the EP Intergroup Seas and Coastal Zones, Janez Potočnik, Commissioner for the Environment in panel discussions.

Dr Peter Heffernan had joined EU Commissioner for the Environment, Janez Potočnik and MEP and Vice-Chair of the EP Intergroup on Seas and Coastal Zones, Isabella Lovin at the top table of an Introductory Plenary Session “Sustainability, Science and Innovation” at the event.

In his address, Dr Heffernan said that emerging knowledge and technologies, such as eco-genomics, smart sensors in the life sciences area and cloud/grid computing, nanosciences and digital imaging in the ICT sector could not only add value to traditional sectors in seafood, fisheries and aquaculture, in maritime safety and transport, in marine leisure and tourism, but also create new and sustainable ocean industries in renewable ocean energy, blue biotechnology and environmental protection and monitoring. “We stand,” he said, “at the cusp of a very exciting period where Ocean Science becomes Ocean Innovation.”  

European Maritime Day

20th May - European Maritime Day was officially proclaimed by the Presidents of the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU on 20 May 2008 to raise awareness of the importance of Europe’s Seas and Oceans and to track progress on the implementation of the Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union launched in 2007.

While the Commission encourages all Member States to celebrate European Maritime Day on 20th May through the organisation of appropriate national events, a special Stakeholders Conference has become a feature of European Maritime Day with previous conferences being held in Brussels (2008) and Rome (2009).  

European Maritime Day Stakeholders Conference 2010

The European Maritime Day Stakeholders Conference 2010 (18th – 21st May), organised by the European Commission in cooperation with the Principality of Asturias and the Spanish-EU Presidency, was held at the University of Laboral, in Gijon on the north coast of Spain.

Picture of conference venue

The theme of EMD 2010 was “Innovation” and consisted of two Conferences: A marine science conference “EuroMARES 2010” (18th – 19th May) and a policy-stakeholder conference “EMD 2010” (20th - 21st May). More than 1,250 participants registered for the Conference which included over 50 Workshops and a large Exhibition Area.


In addition, the Principality of Asturias and City of Gijon organised a number of spectacular public events for participants and local residents in the port of Gijon. Participants included two EU Commissioners, the Spanish Ministers for Science and Innovation and for Environment, Agriculture and Maritime Affairs, MEPs and Secretaries of State from a number of Member States.  

picture of EU Commissioner

In opening the 2010 Conference, EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki (left), noted that the choice of "Innovation" as this year's main theme was particularly timely. It is one of the core elements that make up the Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP), she said, and means fostering the development of new technology solutions such as offshore sources of energy and blue biotechnologies and promoting areas such as new design for green ships or a greater focus on sustainable coastal tourism. In the true spirit of the IMP, it also means integrating innovation from a cross-cutting perspective: innovation in one area should benefit all policy areas.  

Europe 2020 Strategy

Referring to the Europe 2020 Strategy, the strategy that the EU has resolved to tackle the current economic downturn and equip Europe with the solid growth and job creation tools, she said, our oceans and seas have received particular attention as a future key source of growth. Further, to contribute efficiently to the success of the Europe 2020 Strategy, we are about to launch a study on the "Scenarios and drivers for sustainable growth from oceans, sea and coasts". This study will help us to identify future sources of sustainable growth and employment based on marine resources in established, emerging or future maritime sectors and in the coastal regions.

The focus on innovation, growth and jobs is just one of six priorities outlined in the Commission's Progress Report on the Integrated Maritime Policy, she continued,  the other five priorities include: enhanced and coordinated governance; the development of cross-cutting tools such as Maritime Spatial Planning, a Marine knowledge network and an Integrated maritime surveillance system; an appropriate balance between economy, social well-being and environmental responsibility; the development of sea-basin strategies and improving Europe’s role in global maritime governance.  

In his keynote address, Janez Potočnik, EU Commissioner for the Environment, welcomed the fact that the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2008) was the environmental pillar of the IMP and noted that the ambitious aims of this Directive would require significant input, and innovation, from Member States in defining appropriate indicators of Good Environmental Status (GES) and ensuring that their waters met these standards by 2020.  

Concerning sea-basin strategies and of particular interest to Ireland was the Workshop on “An Integrated Atlantic Strategy”. The proposed Atlantic Strategy, being developed by the European Commission and the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR), will address issues such as governance, environmental protection, climate change, maritime transport and safety, fishing and aquaculture, renewable ocean energy, research and innovation.

Mr Eddy Hartog, DG MARE, in his presentation announced that the Commission would launch an on-line public consultation on the Atlantic Strategy between June and September 2010 with a view to publishing a Commission Communication in 2011. While such a Communication is not binding on Member States, it does define the future direction of policy and can have a significant influence on EU funding measures (Structural, Regional and Framework Funds).  

EMD Stakeholder Conference 2011

During the Conference, Anna Wypych-Namiotko, Secretary of State for National Infrastructure, Poland, announced that the EMD 2011 Conference  would be hosted in Poland by the Polish-EU Presidency and the cities of Gdansk, Gdynia and Sopot.  

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