The Ocean is our life support system is Ireland’s key message

Seascape, Photographer Tomasz Szumski,Courtsey of the Marine Institute

Over the recent number of weeks Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute has represented Ireland at a number of international events in Europe, USA and Canada where he has promoted the importance of the oceans in the planetary life support system.

“97 percent of the water on our planet resides in the ocean and everything we eat depends on it”, he told an EU Conference at EXPO Milano titled, ‘Strengthening global food and nutrition security through research and innovation’.

The EU’s objective at this conference was to provide an opportunity for a global debate on how science and innovation can help the EU play its role in ensuring safe, nutritious, sufficient and sustainable food across the world.

Dr Heffernan emphasised the critical role the ocean plays in the production of food stating, “the ocean affects every human life as it drives the water cycle supplying us with freshwater (via rain), moderates the weather and continuously influences the climate which in turn affects the production of our food on land.”

“With our reliance on the ocean, it is important to include research efforts in better understanding the oceans vulnerabilities particularly those relating to adapting to climate and environmental changes.”

This message was further highlighted by Dr Heffernan when he also addressed the  Ocean Innovation Canada 2015 conference in St. Johns, this week (26th – 29th October), where the event focused on the importance of ocean mapping  for oil and gas, aquaculture, fisheries and marine industry. 

With ongoing collaborations between the Irish Marine Institute and the Memorial University Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research (CFER), Ireland carried out the first transatlantic seabed mapping survey under the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance on the RV Celtic Explorer earlier this year.  “This was directly facilitated by the 2015 charter by CFER and we are very excited about opportunities to expand the scale and impact of the transect mapping with AORA partners in 2016,” explained Dr Heffernan.

Addressing the Transatlantic Science Week  next week (4th – 6th November) in Boston, USA, Dr Heffernan will further emphasise the importance of undertaking research that will provide the basis for our understanding of the ocean and how it affects our daily lives.

This year’s theme – Blue Futures – will focus on the changes our oceans and their biological resources are undergoing as well as the effects and consequences of these processes.  A key focus will be on stewardship of the sea, oceans and human health and productive seas and coasts, which supports the objectives of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation, the research alliance between the EU, Canada and the USA.