Making a Statement about the Atlantic 5 Years | 50 Major Achievements | 500+ Research Teams

Making a Statement about the AtlanticFive years ago this month, the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation was signed and the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance (AORA) between the European Union, Canada and the United States of America formed.

Just five years on and AORA has already been recognised as an outstanding success story in the Atlantic area, highlighting international best practices, and promoting the key priorities of the European Union's Atlantic Strategy and Atlantic Action Plan, embodied in the Galway Statement and its potential support to the Blue Economy.

Today there are more than 500 research teams working in the Atlantic Ocean. Transatlantic cooperation has been successfully embedded and embraced at the heart of the scientific teams working together in Atlantic-wide field campaigns on Seabed mapping, Ocean Observation, Seafood, Weather, Climate and Polar research, Marine Biotechnology and Marine Spatial Planning.

The Galway Statement has provided the first step in All-Atlantic cooperation, leading to the signing of the Belém Statement on Atlantic Research & Innovation Cooperation between the European Union, South Africa and Brazil. An All Atlantic Research Community is being built.

New transatlantic Institutional structures have been formed including an Ocean Frontier Institute in Canada which includes European and US partners.

Speaking about the achievements to date, Dr Margaret Rae, Director of AORA Coordination and Support Action at the Marine Institute said

"AORA is using the latest technology to map the Atlantic, making groundbreaking discoveries like previously uncharted undersea volcanoes and mountains, circulation patterns, and more. Our coordinated efforts are helping to create a blueprint for the next generation of ocean observation. And, there's still much to uncover, from new sources of energy and food to lifesaving medicines found in unexpected sources.

By learning all we can about our oceans, we can create a world with better navigation, weather prediction, smarter search and rescue, health, and a thriving seafood industry that will feed generations to come."

Transatlantic research teams with H2020 funding have unearthed new discoveries and knowledge including:

Seabed Mapping

- Completed seven opportunistic transatlantic surveys by Irish, Canadian, French and Fugro vessels, resulting in discoveries of uncharted seamounts kilometres high, deep sea volcanoes, and ridges some hundreds of kilometres in length
- Developed a collaborative model for industry, research and government to promote Atlantic seabed mapping and open data
- Encouraged private sector participation for public good, resulting in Fugro contributing more than 65,000 sq. kilometres of high resolution data. Fugro maps the seabed while transiting between offshore projects

Ocean Observation

- Completed an analysis of Atlantic-wide observation system capacities/gaps
- For the first time a team has formed to develop a blueprint for an Atlantic-wide Integrated Ocean Observing system with wide Atlantic participation (

Atlantic Ecosystems

- Coordinated expeditions to map deep-sea Atlantic ecosystems and advanced knowledge of key species, ecosystems and processes
- Discovered modern Atlantic Ocean circulation which is atypical of the longer term
- Deployed new sensors in eastern subpolar N. Atlantic to enable key advancements in understanding of ocean physics interactions
- Provided scientific evidence that temperature change, acidification, fisheries and their cumulative effects pose the greatest risks to ecosystem services
- Successfully tested a generic Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) framework to assess spatially managed areas (SMAs) across N. Atlantic


- For the first time, climate vulnerability assessments of N. Atlantic fish & shellfish including the human communities dependent on these have been rigorously compared across the EU, US & Canada – strengthening scientific cooperation and building better forecasts.
- Made the first steps to use marine algae to build blue belts for carbon/nitrogen sequestration and sustainable aquaculture

Ocean Education

- Developed a transatlantic ocean literacy strategy and a range of new ocean educational materials (videos, teaching modules, infographics)

Weather, Climate and Polar research

- Worked together to study Arctic warming impacts, ecosystem productivity and ocean-climate dynamics to give new understanding to local populations.
- Facilitated cooperative understanding of the impact of a changing Arctic on weather and climate across the northern hemisphere
- Worked with public and private users of climate information to help them incorporate uncertain scientific evidence into real-world decision-making processes

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Notes to editors:

The Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance (AORA) between the European Union, Canada and the United States of America was established when the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation was signed in May 2013 at the Marine Institute, Oranmore, Galway. The Marine Institute Ireland leads the award winning EU Horizon 2020 funded Coordination and Support Action (AORA-CSA), that supports the implementation of the Galway Statement. Dr. Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute, is the coordinator of this Support Action.

Watch short video on AORA (1:48m)

 Watch AORA infographics on:

• Mapping our Ocean
• A Healthy Ocean
• Food from the Ocean
• Big Ocean Big Data for Ocean Observation & Prediction