#marine – MEPs voted to back Sean Kelly's proposals on the future growth of the EU's maritime sector, by an overwhelming 42-1 in favour, in a show of cross-party political support, in the European Parliament today (Tuesday).
"There is huge potential for the economic development of Ireland and Europe's marine resources which would directly benefit our coastal regions and spin-off industries," Mr Kelly commented after his opinion on the EU's Blue Growth strategy was adopted by the Committee on Regional Development.
The Ireland South MEP pointed to Foynes Port, Limerick in his own constituency as an example of future growth potential. "Blue Growth is about encouraging the development of more environmentally-friendly technologies and implementing them such as offshore wind and tidal energy resources. The innovation demonstrated by companies like Kerry-based Shannon LNG should be the inspiration here."
"Future policy must take a very regional approach in order to ensure our coastal communities have the opportunity to create new business and employment opportunities around their marine resources," Mr Kelly continued.
Today, MEPs voted with cross-party political consensus in endorsing Mr Kelly's call to drive a more balanced, integrated regional development approach to Europe's maritime strategy.
"We need a more inclusive strategy that will harness the potential of all regional ports and coastal hubs in order to create jobs, encourage technological development and innovation while also protecting biodiversity.
"For a truly effective strategy, the EU needs to support local communities and entrepreneurs with funding. However, financing options must be provided on a regional basis so all coastal areas have the chance to access financial support.
"I want to see direct supports for the development of aquaculture and blue biotech industries.
"I have stipulated funding must be available under EU programmes such as the European Regional Development Fund, Horizon 2020, the programme for the competitiveness of enterprises and SMEs (COSME), and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF)."
Mr Kelly also endorsed regional and cross-border maritime clusters and welcomed initiatives at Member State and regional level, such as Ireland's INFOMAR programme while stressing the need for policy coherence.
The opinion by Mr Kelly, as approved by MEPs, will now be forwarded to the European Commission for consideration.