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New Marine Atlas Answers Important Questions

14th September 2011
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New Marine Atlas Answers Important Questions
A new edition of the North Western Waters Atlas has just been published, showing the key biological features of the waters around Ireland. The Atlas brings together in one volume the answers to such diverse questions as: How is rising sea temperature affecting plankton species in European seas? Where do fish spawn around Ireland and the UK? What is the distribution of seabirds, sea mammals and deepwater corals? How are these areas protected? How many tonnes of fish were landed from ICES Areas VI and VII last year? Why do fishers need to discard fish? Where do vessels from other European member states fish within the Irish EEZ? And how do the many other marine activities fit in around all this?

This second edition of the Atlas of the North Western Waters is now available for free download here. It has been funded under the EU MEFEPO (Making the European Fisheries Ecosystem Plan Operational) project, made up of ecologists, economists, management experts and fisheries scientists who are trying to make ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) a reality in Europe. EBFM seeks to support the 'three pillars of sustainability' (ecological, social and economic) and as such includes human activity in the ecosystem.

The Atlas is intended for policy makers, managers and interested stakeholders. Its purpose is to provide a broad overview of the ecosystem of the NWW Regional Advisory Council (RAC) area with the science kept as clear and concise as possible and technical language kept to a minimum.

"Next year the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive requires an analysis of the features, pressures and impacts on member states' waters and the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy will put more emphasis on regionalising management," said Dr. Cormac Nolan of the MEFEPO project at the Marine Institute, "so this new edition of the North Western Waters Atlas, and the work of the MEFEPO team behind it, is both timely and valuable."

The first edition of the Atlas, published in 2009, was extremely well received and this 2nd edition has been updated and revised in response to stakeholder feedback. The Atlas provides up-to-date information on the physical and chemical features, habitat types, biological features, birds, mammals, fishing activity and other human activities taking place within the NWW region. There are new chapters on elasmobranchs and mariculture and the hot topic of discarding is covered in more detail. Background material on four NWW fisheries (mackerel, hake, Nephrops and scallop), which have been used as case studies in the MEFEPO project, is also presented.

Published in Marine Science
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Marine Science Perhaps it is the work of the Irish research vessel RV Celtic Explorer out in the Atlantic Ocean that best 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. From Wavebob Ocean energy technology to aquaculture to weather buoys and oil exploration these pages document the work of Irish marine science and how Irish scientists have secured prominent roles in many European and international marine science bodies.

 

At A Glance – Ocean Facts

  • 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by the ocean
  • The ocean is responsible for the water cycle, which affects our weather
  • The ocean absorbs 30% of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity
  • The real map of Ireland has a seabed territory ten times the size of its land area
  • The ocean is the support system of our planet.
  • Over half of the oxygen we breathe was produced in the ocean
  • The global market for seaweed is valued at approximately €5.4 billion
  • · Coral reefs are among the oldest ecosystems in the world — at 230 million years
  • 1.9 million people live within 5km of the coast in Ireland
  • Ocean waters hold nearly 20 million tons of gold. If we could mine all of the gold from the ocean, we would have enough to give every person on earth 9lbs of the precious metal!
  • Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world – Ireland is ranked 7th largest aquaculture producer in the EU
  • The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean in the world, covering 20% of the earth’s surface. Out of all the oceans, the Atlantic Ocean is the saltiest
  • The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world. It’s bigger than all the continents put together
  • Ireland is surrounded by some of the most productive fishing grounds in Europe, with Irish commercial fish landings worth around €200 million annually
  • 97% of the earth’s water is in the ocean
  • The ocean provides the greatest amount of the world’s protein consumed by humans
  • Plastic affects 700 species in the oceans from plankton to whales.
  • Only 10% of the oceans have been explored.
  • 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year, equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.
  • 12 humans have walked on the moon but only 3 humans have been to the deepest part of the ocean.

(Ref: Marine Institute)

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