#MarineScience - Marine Institute chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan was among the heads of European marine science institutes meeting with Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, at the European Marine Board offices in Ostend, Belgium yesterday (Friday 8 July) to discuss ocean research priorities and challenges.
The meeting with Commissioner Vella follows a previous consultation attended by Dr Heffernan in March, which identified ocean observation and seabed mapping as crucial for managing human activities in European seas and across the global ocean.
The European Marine Board said the latest meeting will advance the discussion on ocean observing and seabed mapping in Europe, set within a global context, by identifying critical gaps in our capability, investment needs and potential funding sources for the future.
“Ocean observation and seabed mapping are essential for managing human activities in the ocean," said Dr Heffernan. "With better observation and prediction capability, we can de-risk investment; we can have well informed licensing and regulation for sustainable economic developments; and we can protect ocean ecosystems and the essential services they provide, like food, medicine, and providing half of the oxygen we breathe.”
The Marine Institute CEO added: “Ireland has much to contribute to these consultations as we have significant seabed mapping expertise through INFOMAR, the national seabed mapping programme led by the Geological Survey of Ireland and the Marine Institute.
"And we are developing key ocean observation and marine research infrastructure in Ireland to advance our understanding of the ocean and to underpin innovation in the ocean."
Mapping, observing and predicting changes in the ocean were the focus of discussion at the Our Ocean Wealth conference in Galway last week, at which Ireland’s first ocean observatory was officially launched.
The meeting with Commissioner Vella in Ostend marks the second in a series and is an important platform for the ocean research community to communicate directly with the commissioner on ocean research issues.