Cork workshop looks to marine research & innovation to drive EU growth and jobs


Attendees at the Atlantic Forum, University College Cork

The Atlantic Forum taking place at University College Cork over the next two days (4th-5th March 2013) will focus on research and innovation as a driver of blue growth and job creation in the EU Atlantic Area. Participants from Ireland, Spain, Portugal, France and the UK aim to complete an Action Plan for the European Union Atlantic Strategy 2014 -2020. This is the fifth and final workshop in the Atlantic Forum consultation process, during which conferences have already been held in Azores, Brest, Bilbao, and Cardiff as well as an on-line public consultation and the input from a range of stakeholders including the European Parliament, the Committee of the Regions and the Atlantic Regions.

Mr. Simon Coveney, TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine opened the event saying, “This is an important and exciting juncture for both Ireland and the EU to put in place an action plan to address the major opportunities associated with our shared Atlantic resource. Ireland has been a proactive supporter of this strategy and action plan contributing through the Government’s Marine Coordination Group and represented by the Marine Institute’s Dr. Peter Heffernan on the EU’s leadership Forum.”

The Irish Government has also recognised the important role that Ireland’s ocean wealth will play in national recovery and growth. An Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland - Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth, was published last July setting a target of increasing turnover to over €6.4Billion by 2020 (88%) and to double the value of our ocean wealth to 2.4% GDP by 2030.

Mr. Sean Sherlock, TD, Minister of State with responsibility for research and innovation  said, “What is clear from today’s Atlantic Forum meeting is the centrality and critical role of research and innovation in delivering the Atlantic Action Plan and supporting and developing blue growth and sustainable job creation in the marine and maritime sectors.”

Dr. Michael Murphy, President UCC commented that “UCC has an essential role to play in the research and innovation in the maritime sector and this is evidenced by the significant historical levels of funding we have attracted, the major funding we secured for the state-of-the-art Beaufort Laboratory and most recently the major funding award in marine renewable energy from Science Foundation Ireland.”

A team from the Commission’s Maritime Affairs Directorate, led by Director General Lowri Evans, will present an outline of the draft action plan on Tuesday followed by a discussion on the possibilities for funding the Atlantic Strategy and its implementation and monitoring. The key overarching themes in the Atlantic Strategy are: Implementing the Ecosystem Approach; Reducing Europe’s Carbon Footprint; Exploiting the Atlantic’s seafloor resources; Responding to threats & emergencies;  and Socially inclusive growth.

The Action Plan for the implementation of the Maritime Strategy for the Atlantic is expected to be adopted by the European Commission in the coming weeks and endorsed by the Council of the European Union during the Irish Presidency, a key priority of the Irish Presidency in the Integrated Maritime Policy area.


For more information please contact Lisa Fitzpatrick, Communications Manager, Marine Institute Tel. 087 2250871 or Tom Mc Carthy, Office of Media and Public Relations, University College Cork, 0214902371 or  

Notes for Editors

What is the Atlantic Strategy?
The purpose of the Atlantic Strategy is to develop a coordinated programme of actions across the economic, environmental, research, innovation, governance, safety and security dimensions of the Atlantic maritime region involving Ireland, Spain, Portugal, France and the UK. The Strategy is intended to promote cohesive development by promoting Blue Growth and will be linked to Agenda 2020 and its flagship initiatives, cohesion policy and Integrated Maritime Policy objectives.  There will be no new funding for the Strategy,  rather the Strategy should result in more efficient use of EU Funds, taking into account Atlantic specificities.

The Atlantic Strategy identifies five overarching, and inter-linked, themes: implementing the ecosystem approach (e.g. the CFP; Marine Strategy Framework Directive), reducing Europe’s carbon footprint  (e.g. ocean renewable energy; low-emission maritime transport); exploiting the Atlantic’s seafloor natural resources (e.g. marine raw materials for food, fuel and pharmaceuticals; marine knowledge ); responding to threats and emergencies (e.g. maritime safety; maritime crisis management; maritime surveillance; and socially inclusive growth (training and re-training; clustering of industries; and coastal tourism and leisure.)  

Background to the Atlantic Strategy 
The Council of the European Union called for an Atlantic Strategy in 2010 under the Spanish Presidency of the Council. The call came in response to the Baltic Sea Strategy and also from Resolutions of the European Parliament and the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR). The European Commission launched a broad-based consultation process to which Ireland contributed a national submission under the guidance of the Inter-Departmental Marine Coordination Group, as well as a common approach submission to the Commission by a group of “like-minded” Member States made up of Ireland, Spain, Portugal and France. The Commission published a Maritime Strategy for the Atlantic Ocean Area in November 2011. The formal launch of the Atlantic Strategy took place in Lisbon on 28-29 November 2011, attended by high-level political and official representatives of the five Atlantic Member States, as well as by the Commissioner for Maritime Affairs, Maria Damanaki.  

Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth  - An Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland 
The Taoiseach Enda Kenny, TD  last year launched a Government plan to double the value of Ireland’s ocean wealth to 2.4% of GDP by 2030 and increase the turnover from our ocean economy to exceed €6.4bn by 2020. The report, ‘Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth - An Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland’ was launched at the Marine Institute, Galway 31st July 2012.

Taking our seabed area into account, Ireland is one of the largest EU states; with sovereign or exclusive rights over one of the largest sea to land ratios (over 10:1) of any EU State.

Our ocean is a national asset, supporting a diverse economy, with vast potential to tap into the global marine market for seafood, tourism, energy, and new applications for health, medicine and technology.  In parallel, our marine resource gives us many non-commercial benefits; for example, amenity, biodiversity and our mild climate.

The Government is determined to ensure that our ocean wealth will be a key component of our economic recovery and sustainable growth, generating benefits for all our citizens.  In recognition of the under-utilisation of our ocean wealth, the Inter-Departmental Marine Coordination Group (MCG), on behalf of the Government, has developed Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth - An Integrated Marine Plan (IMP) for Ireland. The IMP provides a new momentum for growth in the marine area and seeks to ensure government departments work together more efficiently and effectively on the diverse issues related to the marine. This will enable economic growth, investment and the creation of jobs in our ocean economy, relying heavily on investment and participation by the private sector. The IMP will also allow us to strike a balance between protecting our marine ecosystems and maximising the use of its resources as a source of economic growth.  

The IMP was informed and shaped by the consultation process Our Ocean Wealth: Seeking Your Views: New Ways; New Approaches; New Thinking, which took place in early 2012.    

The Marine Coordination Group 
The Inter-Departmental Marine Coordination Group, established in 2009, is chaired by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine and convened by the Department of the Taoiseach. The Group meets monthly, bringing together representatives of departments with an involvement in maritime/marine issues to discuss/coordinate issues that require inter-departmental action. Members of the Group are at Assistant Secretary level with the following Departments represented:  

Department of the Taoiseach 
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine 
Department of Defence 
Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources 
Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht 
Department of Environment, Community and Local Government 
Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation 
Department of Public Expenditure and Reform 
DepartmentTransport, Tourism and Sport 

The Attorney General’s Office and Marine Institute also