Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance project wins International Cooperation Award

Dr Peter Heffernan, Dr Margaret Rae, Karmenu Vella and Dr John Killeen at the Atlantic Stakeholders Conference, Croke ParkThe Marine Institute led project, Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance Co-ordination and Support Action (AORA-CSA), received the first Atlantic Project Award for International Cooperation today (Tuesday 27th September) at the Atlantic Stakeholders Conference at the Croke Park conference centre.

Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries presented the award to Dr Peter Heffernan and Dr Margaret Rae of the Marine Institute, the lead partner in the Horizon 2020 funded project to implement the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean cooperation.

The award recognises the AORA-CSA 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. Along with the Galway based Marine Institute, partners in the project include Ciencia Viva (Portugal), International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES, Denmark), IFREMER (France), IMR (Norway), PLOCAN (Spain) RANNIS (Iceland), as well as advisory board members drawn from DFO Canada; NOAA, USA; JPI Oceans (Brussels), UNESCO International Oceanographic Commission, World Ocean Council, as well as Brazilian and South African representatives.

Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, TD, addressed the conference highlighting the importance of the Atlantic Strategy to Ireland. The conference aims to promote entrepreneurship and innovation acting as a hub for participants to make valuable contacts and explore areas for cooperation, share information and good practices, promote and identify interesting project ideas as well as funding opportunities and partnerships for their projects.

Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO Marine Institute said, "Just over half of the 400+ delegates at the conference today are Irish, many of them SMEs which shows the importance of the Atlantic Strategy to Ireland and the significant opportunities it represents. Irish SMEs have the chance to meet face to face with potential research partners and investors, and to work together on ideas for novel marine projects at the networking and matchmaking activities here today".

The Atlantic Strategy has a strong influence on the European Union innovation and funding programmes including the Horizon 2020 framework programme for research, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), and the InterReg programme.

Dr Heffernan added, "Irish marine researchers have been very successful in winning Blue Growth research funding with 5% of the available budget under Horizon 2020 (Societal Challenge 2) in 2014 going to Irish researchers. Irish marine research projects benefitted from €5.6m funding and resulted in the creation of about 41 research jobs."

"Irish researchers had an equally strong performance in 2015, winning €2.86m in competitive funding, representing 4.7% of the total EU budget in this area."

Seven Irish research organisations were funded under the 2015 calls, with National University of Ireland, Galway winning nearly €1m for a number of marine research projects. Another notable Irish success was Brandon Bioscience Ltd, funded under the Small to Medium Enterprises Instrument as partners in the SEA MORE YIELD project to commercialise a novel biotech solution to yield losses in oil seed crops using native Irish seaweed.

The quality, and influence, of Irish research in the Atlantic Area can be discerned through the award of the €4.2m Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance Coordination and Support Action (AORA-CSA) to a consortia led by the Marine Institute. The project will map the future of transatlantic marine research.

The Atlantic Strategy Group which oversees the implementation of the EU's Atlantic Strategy is currently chaired by Ireland and made up of relevant Member States (Ireland, UK, France, Portugal, and Spain), the European Parliament, the European Commission as well as regional representatives.


For more information please contact Lisa Fitzpatrick, Communications Manager, Marine Institute, telephone 091 387390 or 087 2250871 or email

Notes to Editors
About the Marine Institute

The Marine Institute is the national agency for marine research, technology, development and innovation. We seek to assess and realise the economic potential of Ireland's marine resource, promote sustainable development of marine industry through strategic funding programmes and essential scientific services, as well as safeguard Ireland's natural marine resource through research and environmental monitoring.

Ireland has a marine area of approx 880,000 km² under the sea, which is over ten times its land area which represents an enormous seabed and aquatic resource. The Marine Institute promotes the sustainable development of this vast marine resource through research, the application of new technologies and by providing credible science-based advice to industry, the Government and the EU.


About AORA

The Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance Coordination and Support Action (AORA-CSA) is an EU Horizon 2020 funded project to support the implementation of the Galway Statement which was signed on 24 May 2013.

The objectives of AORA are to:
• implement the Galway Statement and support Atlantic Ocean Cooperation
• improve the international cooperation framework of marine research programmes, creating the basis for the development of future large-scale joint international marine research programmes
• establish a long term knowledge sharing platform for easy access to available information and data holding international research significance for Ocean Management.

The Galway Statement

The Galway Statement, signed at the Marine Institute, Galway, 24 May 2013, establishes a formal Atlantic Ocean research collaboration between the European Union, its Member States, the United States of America and Canada and partner countries that builds on existing initiatives and programmes to increase coordination of ocean research cooperation.

The following priority research areas adopted by the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance were identified in the Galway Statement:
• Marine ecosystem-approach
• Observing systems
• Marine biotechnology
• Aquaculture
• Ocean literacy - engaging with society
• Seabed and benthic habitat mapping