Ireland’s Ocean Economy Report Published

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD with the latest Ireland’s Ocean Economy Report, a  partnership with the Marine Institute and the University of Galway’s Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU). 15th December, 2022:  The Marine Institute in partnership with the University of Galway’s Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) has released the latest update on the performance of Ireland’s Ocean Economy.

The report provides an update on Ireland’s ocean economy across three main economic indicators: turnover, gross value added (GVA) and employment, and provides an analysis of trends over the last five years.

The update shows that Ireland’s ocean economy in 2021 had a turnover of €4.98 billion, with a direct economic contribution, as measured by GVA, of €2.1 billion. Taking into account indirect GVA generated from ocean related activity in Ireland total GVA is €3.8bn, representing 1.6% of national output. Brexit effects on trade and fisheries as well as the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly on marine tourism and the international cruise industry meant a significant reduction in ocean economy output value in 2020.

Commenting on the results, co-author Prof Stephen Hynes, Director of SEMRU at the University of Galway stated, “The latest figures demonstrate that it has been a very turbulent period for Ireland’s ocean economy in the two years since the publication of the last report in the series. Against the backdrop of the immense challenges that have faced the sector we have seen a rebound in terms of output and employment in 2021. It continues to be a period of transition for Ireland’s ocean economy as the marine industries innovate in the face of new policies and measures aimed at dealing with the impacts of the climate and biodiversity crises.”

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD, said, “I am delighted to receive this latest SEMRU (University of Galway) and Marine Institute report on Ireland’s Ocean Economy, which provides such useful data on the value of our marine industries and sectors. The marine sector and the employment it provides in crucial areas such as Ireland’s fisheries and seafood sector, under my own area of Ministerial responsibility, are crucially important contributors in maintaining the viability of our coastal communities. This interesting and timely report demonstrates that the marine sector as a whole has experienced significant challenges over recent years in common with international trends but is now slowly recovering. It will be particularly interesting to see if the current trends continue into 2023 and future years. We look forward to the next report and hopefully to a resurgent and vibrant marine sector both here in Ireland and internationally.

The report also reviews demographic change in Ireland’s coastal economy, as well as highlighting developments in marine natural capital accounting. Natural capital accounting/ecosystem accounting views nature and ecosystems as assets, which provide a stream of ecosystem service benefits to society. The report highlights the importance of healthy marine ecosystem services to the ocean economy industries and Irish society more widely. In doing so it discusses the latest advancements in ocean environmental and economic accounting and how the Marine Institute and the University of Galway, in partnership with the CSO, are in the process of developing such accounts for Ireland.

Welcoming the report, Dr Paul Connolly, CEO of the Marine Institute said, “The ever-growing demand for more integrated advice and services has seen an increasing demand for economic data and evidence that will support the state’s governance of our maritime area. This work, carried out in partnership with University of Galway, and other state organisations such as the Central Statistics Office (CSO) and Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), is delivering a robust analytical framework to inform marine and maritime policies and planning, delivering a more equitable and sustainable ocean and coastal economies.”

Ireland’s Ocean Economy Report 2022 is available on the Marine Institute’s website at HERE






For more information, please contact:
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Editor’s Notes: 

Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU), University of Galway

Based in the University of Galway, SEMRU conducts research on a variety of marine related issues. The main research focus of the unit is on the economic importance of coastal and off-shore marine environments. This involves examining the economic utility of the marine environment (transportation, recreation) and ecological value (fisheries, aquaculture) derived from the productivity of associated ecosystems. Consideration of the human dimension in the management of marine ecosystems is also a critical component of all research projects undertaken.

Since its establishment in 2009, SEMRU has been successful in attracting research funding to support the expansion of its marine socio-economic research programme. The unit is a partner in a number of European-funded projects in the area of the socio-economics of the marine environment.

For more information on SEMRU visit

Marine Institute

The Marine Institute is Ireland’s state agency set up under the Marine Institute Act 1991, to undertake, to co-ordinate, to promote and to assist in marine research and development, and to provide government services that inform policymaking, regulation and the sustainable management of Ireland’s maritime area and marine resources. The Institute provides support through a range of scientific, advisory and economic development services.

Contributors and Acknowledgements

The data for Ireland’s Ocean Economy report is reliant on a number of organisations providing sectoral data and insights into the industry. This includes the Central Statistics Office, Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Marine Institute’s Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) and Munster Technological University.

The research is jointly funded by the Marine Institute and the University of Galway as part of the Strategic Partnership in Marine Socio-Economics, which is supported under the Marine Research Programme funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM). Funding has also been provided to the Marne Institute through a Service Level Agreement with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and DAFM for the provision of data and evidence to support the National Marine Planning Framework and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.