Historic Visit of Two EU Commissioners to Marine Institute in Galway

Photo: Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Mr. Simon Coveney T.D., Commissioner Maria Damanaki and Dr.Peter Heffernan at the Marine Institute in Galway.(Photos: Andrew Downes)An historic event took place at the Marine Institute in Galway today (Friday 23rd September) when two EU Commissioners - Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn and Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki -  visited the facility to discuss key policy areas and priorities in marine science and innovation.



Photo: Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Mr. Simon Coveney T.D., Commissioner Maria Damanaki and Dr.Peter Heffernan at the Marine Institute in Galway.(Photos: Andrew Downes)

The Commissioners were also presented with framed copies of the 2004 ‘Galway Declaration’ – the milestone European document which inspired the European Integrated Marine Policy and which was endorsed by over 500 leading marine scientists, policy makers and representatives of the marine sector in Galway during Ireland’s last Presidency of the European Union.  

Presentation of Declarations


During their visit the Commissioners met with staff and management for detailed briefings on how the Institute’s research and services complement and assist such EU initiatives as the Common Fisheries Policy, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, the 7th Framework Programme and the Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union.


They also learned about how Ireland’s initiatives to harness marine science, innovation and ‘smart’ technology to create jobs and generate knowledge-based products and services to underpin sustainable economic growth are consistent with the objectives of the emerging European strategy on research called Horizon 2020 and the Integrated Maritime Policy’s Atlantic Strategy.  

Commissione Damanaki in the lab

In presenting the Commissioners with their copies of the Galway Declaration, Marine Institute Chief Executive Dr. Peter Heffernan said that since 2004 Ireland had developed into a key player in European marine science and innovation, both in terms of practical research and in strategic planning.  
(Commissioners Damanaki and Geoghegan-Quinn visit the laboratories at the Marine Institute. Photos: Andrew Downes)


“The ‘Galway Declaration’ was an influential achievement of the last Irish Presidency,” said Dr. Heffernan. “It inspired the EU Integrated Maritime Policy as well as the EU Marine Research Strategy which are extremely important to Ireland’s quest to harness our marine resources as a thriving sustainable economic growth engine. And since the new EU research plan Horizon 2020 and the EU Atlantic Strategy are likely to come to final decision during Ireland’s next European Presidency in 2013, this visit is an excellent opportunity to exchange views and explore areas of mutual interest.”

Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn and Damanaki

The Commissioners toured some of the Institute’s 54 custom built laboratories to see its vital service work on marine environmental monitoring, marine food safety and fish stock assessment. The Commissioners also viewed demonstrations of seabed mapping, biodiscovery, climate change research and the cutting-edge work on the SmartBay and SmartOcean marine technology platforms.  


A detailed briefing was given to the Commissioners on the Institute’s plans to harness technology in the creation of employment and economic growth from Ireland’s marine sector as national and international innovations through research into ocean energy, the development of new medicines and functional foods from marine animals and plants, offshore aquaculture, underwater robotics and the application of advanced information technologies to marine communications and monitoring in science-industry consortia such as SmartBay and SmartOcean.  

Meeting in progress

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Mr. Simon Coveney T.D. said, “I am delighted to host Commissioners Damanaki and Geoghegan-Quinn on their visit to the Marine Institute. The outstanding international reputation of the Marine Institute and the excellent quality of the vital national scientific services it provides are a credit to the Board and to the staff. Science and innovation will be at the heart of intensive Irish and European efforts to generate ‘Blue Growth’ - where our maritime resources become an engine of sustainable economic growth and recovery.”  


Following this briefing Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn travelled into Galway City to open the public science event Sea2Sky, celebrating the cutting-edge research that scientific institutions in Galway are undertaking into both ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ space. On display at the event was the Marine Institute’s robot submarine, the ROV Holland 1, which has just completed a groundbreaking mission to deepwater hydrothermal vents along the mid-Atlantic Ridge.  

Meanwhile, Commissioner Damanaki remained at the Marine Institute to meet with leading Irish multinationals and SMEs who are participants in the SmartOcean Cluster where the companies outlined how their innovations and technologies can contribute to the “Blue Growth” and environmental stewardship objectives of the Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union .


For further information please contact: 
Dr. John Joyce – Communications Manager, Marine Institute 
Phone:+353( 0) 87 2250871.  Email: john.joyce@marine.ie


Notes to Editor


The Marine Institute

 The Marine Institute is the state agency responsible for marine research, development and innovation in Ireland.  The Marine Institute, headquartered in Oranmore, Co Galway provides a range of services to government, industry, the third level sector and the public. The Institute operates the National Research Vessels and provides data and information services to support industry development and underpin the work of a range of government departments, state agencies and local authorities.  

The Institute also provides policy and scientific advice on all aspects of the marine resource, undertakes research, stimulates development, and administers the national competitive research programme linked to the implementation of Sea Change - the National Marine Research, Knowledge and Innovation Strategy 2007-2013. This strategy seeks to strengthen the competitiveness and environmental sustainability of Ireland’s marine sector by developing greater alignment between the needs of industry and the research capacity of the public sector and the third level.  

The Strategy aims to build multidisciplinary research capacity and capability that can be applied to marine-related activities, leading to the acquisition of new technical skills, improved flow of expert personnel between the research community and industry and the creation of new commercial opportunities. Sea Change also delivers a comprehensive planned policy support research measure to apply the knowledge gained from research and monitoring to inform public policy, governance and regulation.  

SmartBay / SmartOcean

 Established as a pilot project in 2008 off the west coast of Ireland, SmartBay - Ireland’s National Facility for Marine ICT ‘SmartBay’ - was designed to provide a real world test environment for the development of technology products and services for the global marine sector.  Key industry partners who have trialled technologies in the infrastructure to date include companies not immediately associated with the marine sector such as IBM, which has web portals that display data on environmental conditions, and Intel who have developed a wireless communication system to help transmit data from the marine environment in real time.  These technologies are also being connected to smart phones and mobile devices to deliver real time updates on changing weather and sea state conditions.   Gaming technologies are also being investigated for the creation of virtual oceans and to act as interactive design tools for marine spatial offshore explorations.     

Each of these companies form part of Ireland’s developing SmartOcean Cluster – now standing at a group of over 50 companies throughout Ireland focussed on the development and delivery of innovative marine ICT applications to global markets.  

Through the SmartOcean Cluster, Irish-based multinational corporations and indigenous companies are working together to capitalise on new market opportunities linked to the Digital Ocean. The Marine Institute and other State agencies are supporting these companies by providing access to state assets such as research ships, underwater vehicles and offshore test beds as well as facilitating collaborative research opportunities.  

The Galway Declaration

 The Galway Declaration was endorsed by over 500 leading marine scientists, policy makers, and representatives of the marine sector from all corners of the European Union at the EurOCEAN Conference on Marine Science and Ocean Technology in Galway on the 13th May 2004 (see: http://ec.europa.eu/research/press/2007/maritime-briefing/pdf/24-galway… )

The Galway Declaration (2004) emphasises :

  • The crucial role of the oceans in climate, carbon cycle and Life on Earth;
  • The major contribution maritime industries can make to the achievement of the objectives outlined in the Lisbon Agenda;
  • The essential role of marine science and technology in generating the knowledge needed to fuel this economic achievement in harmony with the environment;
  • The critical role the European Research Area/7th Framework Programme must play in supporting world-class excellence in marine science and technology.

The objective of the 2004 EurOcean Conference was to determine how marine science and technology could contribute to the achievement of European Union objectives stated in the Lisbon, Gothenburg and Barcelona Declarations. Namely to make the European Union the most competitive knowledge based economy in the world based on the application of science and technology and the principles of sustainable development.

 EurOCEAN 2004 was a European Presidency event sponsored by the European Commission, the Marine Institute, and the Marine Board - European Science Foundation (MB-ESF).

Full details on the EurOCEAN Conferences series including Galway 2004 are available at:http://www.euroceanconferences.eu/previous-conferences/eurocean-2004