#MarineScience - Seabed mapping activity and developments during 2014 will be showcased at the annual seminar of Ireland’s national marine mapping initiative, INFOMAR, was opened yesterday (Wednesday 22 October) at the Tower Hotel in Waterford.
The INFOMAR programme, dedicated to increasing awareness of Ireland’s marine landscape, carries out hydrographic and geophysical surveys of Irish territorial waters.
It is a co-operative research programme between the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) and the Marine Institute (MI) and is funded by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.
This ambitious mapping initiative began in 2006, and in its first 10 years will successfully map 26 priority bays and three priority offshore areas.
Using INFOMAR resources, skilled experts based at the GSI and MI develop data products, primarily hydrographic and geological maps that detail the Irish marine territory. These maps are now available for scrutiny HERE.
Minister of State Joe McHugh TD, who was present at the opening, said: “The Government has been strongly supportive of this project, committing €15 million for the five-year period from 2014 to 2018.
"With this continued funding support, Ireland is at the leading edge of European work in marine mapping and in laying the foundations for the sustainable management of our ocean space."
The minster added that “this year a further €3 million is being invested under the INFOMAR project in surveying the gateways to our ports, mapping our fish spawning grounds, finding routes for marine telecommunications cables and selecting the best sites for ocean energy generation. All rely on accurate seabed mapping capability, which Ireland now possesses.”
The 2014 INFOMAR annual seminar will provide an update on progress and plans, and focus on the downstream value and application of the data to underpin development and growth across the marine sector.
New INFOMAR products and services are continuously evolving, and the event will see the launch of a new education programme, a prototype dive tourism mobile app, and INFOMAR Story Maps.
Welcoming the launch, GSI director Koen Verbruggen said that the long-term benefits to Ireland as a result of INFOMAR’s offshore mapping are significant, and include:
- Datasets that feed directly into updated nautical charts via the United Kingdom Hydroghaphic Office.
- Up-to-date advanced mapping facilitates greater awareness of Irish marine opportunities.
- The data are used in planning of protection and development offshore Ireland.
- This project is also highlighting data and knowledge gaps for further exploration and research.
- New international research links have been forged between the surveys and agencies, which is resulting in related projects and employment.
Dr Peter Heffernan, chief executive of the Marine Institute, said: "The Government has prioritised the marine as an area for further growth under the Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth Strategy and the information on Ireland’s vast seabed territory that INFOMAR is capturing and making available will provide a solid platform for sustainable development and growth."
Over 130 attendees are expected to attend the over the day-and-a-half seminar. The work of INFOMAR is also showcased in the latest episode of TV3's maritime documentary series Our Island, broadcast last night and which will be available to stream via the TV3 Player.