Commssioner Vella consults with marine leaders on ocean observation and seabed mapping priorities

Commissioner Vella pictured with CEOs of European Marine Board member institutes.Marine Institute CEO,  Dr. Peter Heffernan is among the heads of European marine science institutes meeting with Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries at the European Marine Board offices in Ostend, Belgium today (8th July) to discuss ocean research priorities and challenges.

The meeting with Commissioner Vella follows a previous consultation attended by Dr Heffernan in March, which identified ocean observation and seabed mapping as crucially important for managing human activities in European seas and across the global ocean.  

The European Marine Board, which is hosting the meeting has said today’s meeting will advance the discussion on ocean observing and seabed mapping in Europe (set within a global context), by indentifying critical gaps in our capability, investment needs and potential funding sources for the future.

Dr. Heffernan, said “Ocean observation and seabed mapping are essential for managing human activities in the ocean. With better observation and prediction capability, we can de-risk investment; we can have well informed licensing and regulation for sustainable economic developments; and  we can protect ocean ecosystems and the essential services they provide, like food, medicine, and providing half of the oxygen we breathe.”

 “Ireland has much to contribute to these consultations as we have significant seabed mapping expertise through INFOMAR, the national seabed mapping programme led by the Geological Survey of Ireland and the Marine Institute. And we are developing key ocean observation and marine research infrastructure in Ireland to advance our understanding of the ocean and to underpin innovation in the ocean,” added Dr Heffernan.

Mapping, observing and predicting changes in the ocean were the focus of discussion at the Our Ocean Wealth conference which took place in Galway last week (1st July), at which the Ireland’s first ocean observatory - Smartbay Subsea Observatory - was officially launched.

Hosted by the European Marine Board, the meeting with Commissioner Vella marks the second in a series and is an important platform for the ocean research community to communicate directly with the Commissioner on ocean research issues.

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