03 June 2020 - Celebrating World Oceans Day and this year's theme of 'Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean' is the focus of the Marine Institute's Oceans of Learning series this week.
The Institute and partners celebrate our world's shared ocean and our connection to the sea throughout the 10-week series, sharing news and offering online interactive activities, videos and downloadable resources on a new marine topic each week.
World Oceans Day (#worldoceansday) takes place on Monday 8 June and connects people globally in celebrating the ocean, its importance to our lives and focusing on how each of us can protect the ocean, no matter where we live. This year, the day particularly focuses on the role that innovation has in making our interactions with the ocean sustainable.
The latest report on the ocean economy from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) emphasises the growing importance of science and technologies in improving the sustainable economic development of our seas and oceans. Marine ecosystems sit at the heart of many of the world's global challenges: food, health and wellbeing, new sources of clean energy, climate change, job creation and inclusive growth.
We need to safeguard and improve the health of marine ecosystems to support our ever-growing use of marine resources. As the challenges to our ocean continue to grow, so too does our need for innovative solutions to address them.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, stated, "Ensuring a sustainable future for our oceans will require stakeholders to focus on innovative mechanisms for addressing both current and future challenges. The Oceans of Learning campaign – One Shared Ocean, One Shared Future - will continue to showcase positive developments across the marine sector in recent years and examples of innovation in action as we approach and celebrate World Oceans Day 2020."
Dr Paul Connolly, CEO of the Marine Institute, said, "Our ocean is our greatest natural resource and we see that most directly in Ireland with the vital importance that the Atlantic Ocean plays in our daily lives – from facilitating our trade through shipping to influencing the weather and providing seafood to support a healthy diet.
"This year's theme for World Oceans Day is especially relevant in the lead-up to the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, which will run from 2021 to 2030, and is born out of the recognition that much more needs to be done to create improved conditions for the sustainable development of our oceans, seas and coasts and to reverse the decline in ocean health."
Oceans of Learning is marking World Oceans Day by featuring projects that use innovative ways to learn more about our oceans and feed back information that is helping to make a positive impact on our daily lives.
With the aim of driving innovation in the marine sector and accelerating renewable energy breakthroughs, the Marine Institute has provided funding to a number of marine enterprises in Ireland. For example, seven renewable energy projects are benefitting from a significant funding injection following investment by the Institute's industry-led awards, launched in 2018. From research on the impact of floating platform technology, to subsea micro piling to hybrid solar and wind energy devices, the commercial and scientific potential of these new innovations are very exciting.
Exceedence and Technology from Ideas (TFI) are developing an offshore hybrid system, which will benefit the aquaculture sector. Offshore aquaculture farms, where it is too far to reach with electricity cables from shore, currently use diesel as their main source of energy to operate feed barges and other equipment. This brings concerns of ever growing emissions and the climate impact but also increased risk of oil spillages when transporting diesel to the feed barges.
Energy from the waves is a very attractive alternative energy source. TFI and Exceedence are developing an offshore hybrid power system that harnesses the natural power of the waves by converting the motion of the fish cage into electricity.
Ray Alcorn, CEO at Exceedence said, "Our full hybrid off grid power system technology produces clean blue electricity by harnessing the power of the waves, mitigating the fossil fuel requirements on fish cages, which in turn reduces the overall carbon footprint, improving both environmental and climate impacts."
Ocean data service company XOCEAN, also received funding from the Institute's industry-led awards to transform marine monitoring and data collection. The company uses innovative robotics, particularly unmanned surface vessels, to monitor and collect fisheries data at sea. As fish are highly mobile, this brings limitations in using single sonar surveys. XOCEAN is researching and developing a cost-effective way of deploying and using unmanned technology with multiple sonar devices simultaneously to survey for fish in an area, in what's known as a 'swarm' formation.
"XOCEAN is delighted to be working with the Marine Institute on this important project," said James Ives, CEO of XOCEAN. "Sustainability of fish stocks is of critical importance and management of this depends on high quality data. Unmanned systems, such as XOCEAN's XO-450 USV have an important role to play in delivering safe, high quality and ultra-low carbon ocean data."
World Oceans Day encourages us to make a difference in our life, in our community, and in our world, by taking action to protect our ocean – for present and future generations. By working together and thinking creatively, we can achieve a healthier ocean that will provide for the billions of humans, plants and animals which depend on it every day.
Oceans of Learning offers videos, interactive activities and downloadable resources for World Oceans Day and this year's theme of 'Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean. To view these resources, visit Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean.
The research undertaken by XOCEAN, Exceedence and TFI, have been carried out with the support of the Marine Institute and the Irish Government, co-financed under the European Regional Development Fund.