Dr Paul Connolly of the Marine Institute is the new First Vice President of ICES


Dr Paul Connolly, of the Marine Institute, has been elected First Vice President for the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) at their annual meeting of Member Countries in October.

This is a six-year term, the first three of which will be spent as First Vice President supporting the incoming president Dr Mike Sinclair of Canada. In 2013, Paul is likely to become President of ICES for a further three-year period.

ICES is the oldest intergovernmental marine science organisation in the world. Paul will be the third Irish president of ICES since the Council was established in 1902, following Dr Arthur Went (ICES President 1966-69) and Mr. David de G. Griffith (ICES President 1991-94). The Irish Free State was admitted by treaty to ICES in 1925, which was the third such international treaty that Ireland had signed since its independence in 1922.   

Tony Killeen T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food said “I wish to congratulate Dr Connolly on his new appointment to the prestigious position within ICES.   I have come to appreciate both the quality of Dr Connolly’s advice and his excellent communication skills during the lengthy December Fisheries Council negotiations when he provide me with scientific advice on the state of fish stocks.  Dr Connolly has been at the forefront within ICES in  bringing the experience of fishermen and other stakeholders  to the table.  He will be critical in moving ICES from the current advice on individual fish stocks to taking a more holistic approach to management of the seas.  We look forward to Dr Connolly taking a leading role in integrating all marine science so that better quality advice will be available to  decision makers.”  

Congratulating Dr Connolly on his election as ICES First Vice President, Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute that “this is not only a personal triumph for Paul through the acknowledgement of his peers in the international scientific community but also a further validation that, as an island nation, Ireland continues to produce leaders of vision and ability in the world of marine science.”  

Paul Connolly completed his PhD at University College Dublin in 1986 on fisheries management. He then spent two years working in London before returning to Ireland to take up a post with what is now the Marine Institute. From 1991-1998 he was heavily involved with the provision of scientific advice on fish stocks to the Irish government and worked extensively with ICES.  

In 1999 Paul was appointed Director of Fisheries Science Services in the Marine Institute and became Ireland’s delegate to ICES. In 2003, he was elected Vice President of ICES and served on its Board until 2005. In 2005, ICES then appointed Paul as chair of a committee that conducted a root and branch reform of ICES and the way it delivers scientific advice on the oceans. These reforms focussed on making the scientific advice more transparent to stakeholders, more integrated and more in line with the needs of clients. The reforms were adopted by ICES in 2008. While engaged in this reform process Paul completed a Master of Business Administration degree (MBA) at National University of Ireland, Galway. 

Paul is currently  chairing a project for the Dutch Government and ICES that is developing management plans for protected areas in the North Sea. Here in Ireland he has been a key player in the Industry / Science Partnership to sustainably manage fish stocks in Irish waters.  

ICES provides a very important platform where Member States can add value to their marine science efforts by working together in a cooperative manner on issues of mutual interest. One key issue where Member States will have to cooperate in the near future is on the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive, where all Member States will have to develop management plans for their sea areas and  assess  the environmental status of these seas by 2012.  

The main functions of the President are to chair meetings of the Member Countries, represent ICES at various functions and to ensure that ICES activities are in line with its strategic plan and the needs of its Member States and client commissions.