President Mary McAleese today (Tuesday 11th January) visited the Marine Institute headquarters at Oranmore, Co. Galway, where she inspected the laboratory facilities and addressed the Institute’s staff.
“As the resources of the ocean become ever more implicated in the future development of high technologies sectors like energy, ICT, Medical and Pharma they will be a key part of Ireland’s future economic story,” said the President. “Our economic recovery will in part rest on this Institute’s capacity for ensuring that Ireland’s marine resources are translated into economically viable ideas which deliver jobs, efficiencies and solid prosperity for our people. You are key enablers in the delivery of the Government’s marine strategy ‘Sea Change’. You are key strategists in optimising the funding available, in directing research, in encouraging innovation.”
During her visit, President McAleese met many of the scientists and administrators involved in SmartBay - an innovative project to spearhead cutting-edge remote sensing technology in the aquatic environment. The project is supported by a consortium of industry, research and Third-Level Institutions comprising of Dublin City University, NUI Galway, NUI Maynooth, University College Dublin, IBM, Intel and the Marine Institute. President McAleese was also briefed on the Institute’s many innovative and ongoing programmes to sustainably manage wild fish stocks, ensure seafood safety and protect the marine environment.
|President of Ireland, Mary McAleese with the Chairman, CEO and Directors of the Marine Institute.
“We are all deeply honoured by the President’s visit here today and her recognition of the great strides that the Irish marine science community has achieved over the last decade,” said Dr. Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute. “Last year, Ireland’s reputation as an emerging centre of excellence in marine science was validated by the announcement of over €23 million in competitive European funding for some 30 Irish marine research groups, including around 20 SMEs, engaged in cutting edge work on such vital areas including ocean energy, sustainable fisheries, biotechnology, and marine environmental monitoring."
This level of funding represents several times the leverage rate that might be expected from a country with Ireland’s national investment in marine RTDI as well as a doubling of the EU grant aid awarded to Ireland’s marine science sector under the previous Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), when 59 collaborative projects from Ireland were awarded €10.6 million in grant aid.
“There is a vast amount of work to be done to comprehend how to make our seas and oceans work best for us and for those who will come after us," said President McAleese. “You are the people who have made that work your personal vocation and you start your next two decades with a context that is very challenging. No-one knows the marine environment or its potential better than you. May your work continue to harness and harvest that potential, surprising and exciting us with the many ways in which our marine environment, for all its dangers, can make life better for all of us."
For further information, please contact:
Dr. John Joyce – Communications Manager, Marine Institute
Phone: +353 872250871
Photography: Andrew Downes Photography
Phone: +353 876391500
NOTES TO EDITOR
The Marine Institute
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, two purpose-built vessels – RV Celtic Explorerand RV Celtic Voyager - and a research facility near Newport, Co. Mayo. Its headquarters and main laboratory facilities are at Oranmore on the shores of Galway Bay.
The SmartBay project in Galway Bay consists of a number of buoys each supporting an array of advanced ocean sensors to collect and transmit real time information on ocean conditions that will benefit scientists, commercial fishermen, fish farmers, environmental monitoring agencies and the general public. This information, which previously could only be collected by actually going to sea, is beamed by radio to the Marine Institute’s headquarters at Oranmore. This information can then be used to analyse and guide coastal zone management plans, as well as advising commercial fishermen, fish farmers and water users of all kinds.
SmartBay is also the test bed for a much more ambitious project to extend these systems out over Ireland’s continental shelf and down into the sunless depths of the abyssal ocean plain some three and a half kilometres below the surface.
Marine Innovation in Ireland
In line with the Irish government’s renewable energy policy and Ocean Energy Strategy, Irish researchers are particularly active in the renewable ocean energy space, which represents a very significant opportunity for Ireland given our strategic location on the Atlantic seaboard. Researchers from the Hydraulics and Maritime Research Centre (UCC) are leading two major European wave energy projects (CORES, MARINA) and are participants in a number of others (EquiMar, ORECCA). The Irish ocean energy device developer Wavebob Ltd is leading a major industry project (STANDPOINT) with partners from Portugal, Germany and Sweden on new developments in wave converter technology.
In the sea-fisheries sector, researchers from the Marine Institute are participating in the MEFEPO project, with partners from UK, Portugal, Netherlands, France, Norway, Denmark and Spain, which is looking to deliver new ideas on sea-fisheries management. According to Dr Paul Connolly (Marine Institute) “the Fisheries Atlas of NW Atlantic Waters, produced as part of the MEFEPO Project, has been warmly received by the North Western Waters Regional Advisory Council (RAC) and the fishing industry”.
In 2007, the Marine Institute established a National Marine Biotechnology Programme, to address the opportunities associated with a sector estimated to be worth €2.8 billion (2010) globally and with a cumulative annual growth rate of 4-5%. Demonstrating the strength of Irish researchers in this area, researchers from the Limerick Institute of Technology will lead a major project (BAMMBO), with partners in France, Spain and Brazil, to investigate the sustainable production of biologically active molecules of marine origin for commercial purposes.