Marine Institute Welcomes EU Maritime Policy Paper

Dr. Peter Heffernan, CEO of Ireland’s Marine Institute has welcomed the EU Commission’s Blue Paper: “An Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union” which was launched today (10th October) in Brussels.

The paper represents the Commission’s response to the year-long public consultation process on the Maritime Green Paper. Co-ordination of this consultation in Ireland was undertaken by the Marine Institute through a specially dedicated website and a public workshop on behalf of an interdepartmental committee.

“The Commission had clearly listened to and responded positively to the many constructive suggestions regarding the role of science and technology from the Member States and the European Marine Science Community,” said Dr Heffernan. “I particularly welcome the commitment of the Commission to address the key recommendations of the Aberdeen Declaration—a consensus statement from the European Marine Science Community made earlier this year—outlining how marine science and technology could contribute to the social and economic opportunities offered by the global market economy and to addressing major challenges such as those posed by global climate change.”  

The marine science, technology and innovation strategy outlined in the EU Maritime Policy Paper draws heavily of the recommendations of marine scientists from all over Europe at the Irish EU Presidency EurOCEAN 2004 Conference and in the Galway Declaration (2004).

Since 2004, the Marine Institute, and Dr Heffernan, has played a leadership role in mobilising the European Marine Science and Technology Community to respond positively and constructively to the Green Paper consultative process culminating the recent Aberdeen Declaration (June 2007). Many of the recommendations made in the Aberdeen Declaration are addressed in the Commissions Communication of 10th October.  

At the public workshop held in Dublin earlier this year as part of the consultation process in support of the EU Green Paper, EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs Dr. Joe Borg praised Ireland as “an invaluable contributor to the debates on European science policy.   “Ireland is consistently cited in global benchmarking studies as a model for best practice in innovation in the knowledge economy,” he said.  

The EU Blue Paper confirms the Commission’s commitment to:

Present in 2008 a comprehensive European Strategy for Marine Research;

Support research to predict, mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change on maritime activities, the marine environment, coastal zones and islands;

Support a dialogue and partnership approach between the scientific community, industry and policy makers;

Take steps in 2008 towards the creation of a European Marine Observation and Data Network, and promote the multi-dimensional mapping of Member States' waters; ·       Establishing a mechanism to document the real value of Europe’s maritime economy and it’s socio-economic impact.  

Ireland already has an integrated marine research policy in “Sea Change – A Marine Knowledge, Research and Innovation Strategy for Ireland 2007 – 2013”, which aims to drive the development of the marine sector as a dynamic element of Ireland’s knowledge economy. 

Sea Change uses a series of carefully calculated possible scenarios for Ireland by the year 2020 to define global market opportunities linked to the development of marine technologies and resources, as well as practical costed action plans and clearly defined objectives regarding how those opportunities might be achieved.

Sea Change also highlights the need for a shift away from the traditional view of the sector as one primarily associated with the harvesting of food, and points towards a wide variety of market-led opportunities in sustainable energy, functional food products, transport, technology and environmental well-being.  

For a PDF copy of the new EU Blue Paper and further information, please see:



A European Vision for the Seas & Oceans, 2006.

“An all embracing maritime policy aimed at developing a dynamic maritime economy in harmony with the marine environment, supported by sound marine science and technology, which allows human beings to continue to reap the rich harvest from the oceans in a sustainable manner”   

The Marine Institute was created under the Marine Institute Act in 1991 to “undertake, to co-ordinate, to promote and to assist” in the development of marine research and development in Ireland. Since its early days in Harcourt Street Dublin, it has grown into an internationally respected science body with over 200 staff, two purpose-built vessels – RVCeltic Explorer and RV Celtic Voyager, a research facility near Newport, Co. Mayo and now a brand new headquarters and laboratory on the shores of Galway Bay.  

To learn more about the Marine Institute (see