#marinescience – The Atlantic Forum taking place at University College Cork over the next two days (4th-5th March 2013) will focus on research and innovation as a driver of blue growth and job creation in the EU Atlantic Area. Participants from Ireland, Spain, Portugal, France and the UK aim to complete an Action Plan for the European Union Atlantic Strategy 2014 -2020. This is the fifth and final workshop in the Atlantic Forum consultation process, during which conferences have already been held in Azores, Brest, Bilbao, and Cardiff as well as an on-line public consultation and the input from a range of stakeholders including the European Parliament, the Committee of the Regions and the Atlantic Regions.
Mr. Simon Coveney, TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine opened the event saying, "This is an important and exciting juncture for both Ireland and the EU to put in place an action plan to address the major opportunities associated with our shared Atlantic resource. Ireland has been a proactive supporter of this strategy and action plan contributing through the Government's Marine Coordination Group and represented by the Marine Institute's Dr. Peter Heffernan on the EU's leadership Forum."
The Irish Government has also recognised the important role that Ireland's ocean wealth will play in national recovery and growth. An Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland - Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth, was published last July setting a target of increasing turnover to over €6.4Billion by 2020 (88%) and to double the value of our ocean wealth to 2.4% GDP by 2030.
Mr. Sean Sherlock, TD, Minister of State with responsibility for research and innovation said, "What is clear from today's Atlantic Forum meeting is the centrality and critical role of research and innovation in delivering the Atlantic Action Plan and supporting and developing blue growth and sustainable job creation in the marine and maritime sectors."
Dr. Michael Murphy, President UCC commented that "UCC has an essential role to play in the research and innovation in the maritime sector and this is evidenced by the significant historical levels of funding we have attracted, the major funding we secured for the state-of-the-art Beaufort Laboratory and most recently the major funding award in marine renewable energy from Science Foundation Ireland."
A team from the Commission's Maritime Affairs Directorate, led by Director General Lowri Evans, will present an outline of the draft action plan on Tuesday followed by a discussion on the possibilities for funding the Atlantic Strategy and its implementation and monitoring.
The key overarching themes in the Atlantic Strategy are: Implementing the Ecosystem Approach; Reducing Europe's Carbon Footprint; Exploiting the Atlantic's seafloor resources; Responding to threats & emergencies; and Socially inclusive growth.
The Action Plan for the implementation of the Maritime Strategy for the Atlantic is expected to be adopted by the European Commission in the coming weeks and endorsed by the Council of the European Union during the Irish Presidency, a key priority of the Irish Presidency in the Integrated Maritime Policy area.