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In his first week in office Marine Minister Simon Coveney has moved to highlight the significance of the marine sector to Ireland. The statement came in his first official engagement at the new Department of Agriculture, Marine and Food. Minister Coveney said: "the seas and ocean that surround the island of Ireland are among this country's greatest natural resources."

The Minister was speaking during a visit to the Marine Institute's research vessel, RV Celtic Explorer, on its return from a mission to the Labrador and Newfoundland Seas.

He added "I am particularly pleased that this is my first official engagement as Minister for Agriculture, Marine and Food. The work of the RV Celtic Explorer highlights the essential nature of marine research, development and sustainable management, through which Ireland is developing a strong and well-deserved reputation as an emerging centre of excellence, where we have prominent roles in many European and international marine science bodies."

Minister Coveney commended the Marine Institute and its Chief Executive, Dr Peter Heffernan, for its leading and proactive role in the areas of fisheries science, marine environment and food safety as well as ocean science and said that he looked forward to working closely with the Institute and benefitting from the research and advice which they would undertake and provide.

The Minister noted that Ireland's two national research vessels – RV Celtic Explorer and RV Celtic Voyager – will record 267 days at sea during 2011, during which they will be engaged in fisheries surveys, underwater mapping, climate studies and deepwater surveys.

Published in Marine Science

William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago

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