23rd June 2022: The Marine Institute (MI - Ireland) and the Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera (IPMA - Portugal) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Lisbon today. The MoU will enhance cooperation in the Atlantic Ocean area between the two organisations, particularly in relation to strategic cooperation on marine research.
The agreement was signed by Dr Paul Connolly, CEO of the Marine Institute, and Dr Jorge Miguel Alberto de Miranda, President of the IPMA, at the latter's headquarters in Lisbon today (23rd June 2022). The Secretary of State for Maritime Affairs, Jose Maria Costa and the Irish Ambassador to Portugal, Ralf Victory attended the signing ceremony.
The MoU recognises the importance of cooperation to enhance marine sciences and technology, and will focus on collaborations that build up our knowledge base for the Atlantic Ocean. The IPMA is a public institution and an equivalent marine science organisation to the Marine Institute.
Dr Paul Connolly, CEO of the Marine Institute, said, "I am delighted to be signing the MoU with the IPMA today. This strategic alliance will tap into the scientific talent pools in both organisations, develop research partnerships in the Atlantic area and build up our ocean of knowledge base for the benefit of our coastal communities".
Dr Miguel Miranda, President of IPMA, said "Ireland and Portugal have been working together for many years on marine science issues and we know each other and work well together. It is very important for us to continue to cooperate and be a strong voice for marine science and the Atlantic into the future".
Both organisations agreed to pursue an MoU in 2020, but the Covid 19 pandemic stalled progress. The duration of the agreement is five years, with an option to renew for a similar period. A joint MI-IPMA Working Group will be set up in September to implement and steer the MOU.
Irish ambassador Ralph Victory echoed the importance of marine science and highlighted that next week, the UN Ocean conference organised by Portugal and Kenya, would be held in Lisbon and see many countries discussing the ocean and marine research.
Jose Maria Costa, (Portuguese Secretary of State for Maritime Affairs) was very supportive of the MOU and stressed the importance of growing the relationship between Ireland and Portugal in relation to the Atlantic.
The implementation of cooperation within the MoU's framework will include capacity building, training and exchange of expertise and staff, and developing strategic alliance to build research proposals. It will also include conducting joint research projects, co-organisation of conferences, seminars and workshops, and more.
The broad areas covered by the MoU are multi-faceted and will focus on:
• Marine environmental monitoring
• Harmful algae bloom, toxins and forecasting
• Aquaculture and farmed fish/shellfish health
• Marine Spatial Planning
• Benthic Mapping, Biodiversity, Climate and Ocean Change
• New seafood products
• New approaches to improve seafood quality and safety
• Fisheries and marine science cooperation within in the framework of International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES)
• Marine research infrastructures.
• Renewable energy science and technology
• Promotion of joint, high-level scientific publications
• Promote common and joint leadership opportunities in the All-Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation Alliance
• Cooperate on building mutually beneficial strategic research alliances that build research proposals that target funding under the EU Mission Starfish, the EU Horizon Europe and Atlantic Strategy programmes
Many of the scientific leaders in IPMA were present at the signing of the MOU. During informal conversations after the ceremony, they all mentioned the current cooperation with the Marine Institute in areas such as research vessel operations, monitoring of harmful algal blooms, fisheries and aquaculture and the need to grow this cooperation into areas that ensure the health of our ocean such as Marine Spatial Planning and the monitoring of biodiversity and the ocean environment.
There are very exciting times for marine science in the Atlantic. There is a great opportunity to address many important societal and government questions on the health of our oceans and how to achieve a sustainable blue economy for our coastal communities.