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Marine Institute Welcomes Appointment of Dr Rick Officer As New CEO

12th December 2023

Dr Rick Officer has been appointed as the next Chief Executive Officer of the Marine Institute, Ireland's state agency for marine research, technology development, and innovation.

Dr Officer joins the Marine Institute from the Atlantic Technological University (ATU), where he held the position of Vice President for Research and Innovation.

Charlie McConalogue TD, Minister for the Marine, announced the appointment earlier today.

“Much like the rest of the world, Ireland is at a crossroads where challenge meets opportunity in marine research and knowledge. As we tackle national and global societal challenges, our marine resource offers significant opportunities for Ireland to prepare for the impacts of climate change, and food and energy security. With Dr Officer’s extensive experience in sustainable fisheries, leading innovative and integrated research programmes and driving strategic collaborations nationally and internationally, the Marine Institute will continue to deliver the robust science and services to government and industry needed as we work towards delivering a knowledge-based, sustainable blue economy for Ireland,” Minister McConalogue said.

Welcoming the announcement, Dr John Killeen, Chair of the Marine Institute, said, "On behalf of the Marine Institute Board, I am delighted to welcome Dr Officer as CEO. He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the role, and will be a dedicated champion of the Institute’s values and its mission to promote economic development, create employment, and protect the marine environment."

Speaking about his appointment, Dr Rick Officer said, “Ireland’s marine environment and industries are under enormous and urgent pressures. The Marine Institute has a vital role to play in providing the evidence-base to enable adaptation to changing social, economic, and environmental conditions. The excellent science and advice produced and supported by the Marine Institute are crucial to Ireland’s successful navigation of the major challenges of food security, climate adaptation and energy transition. It is a great privilege and honour to lead the Marine Institute through this exciting period of change. I look forward to working with the dedicated team at the Marine Institute as we embrace these challenges and realise the opportunities that the oceans present.”

Dr Officer joins the Marine Institute from Atlantic Technological University (ATU) where he held the position of Vice President for Research and Innovation. Dr Officer led the integration of Research and Innovation activities at the former Galway-Mayo, Sligo, and Letterkenny Institutes of Technology, through the merger into Atlantic Technological University. He also led the establishment of the Marine and Freshwater Research Centre, now ATU’s largest Research Centre comprising ~100 people. Dr Officer’s experience of international fisheries and aquaculture was gained through his Fisheries Scientist roles in Victoria and Tasmania, and his role as Science Leader for Fisheries and Aquaculture for the State of Queensland, Australia. He previously led the demersal fisheries research and assessment team at the Marine Institute. As Demersal Fisheries Team Leader, Dr Officer’s responsibilities included Chief Scientist roles aboard Ireland’s National research vessels, appointment as National Delegate to the European Commission’s Scientific, Technical & Economic Committee for Fisheries, and Chairmanship of International Working Groups and Expert Groups for the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) and the European Commission.

Dr Officer has a Science degree (1990) and PhD in Fisheries Science (1995) from the University of Melbourne, Australia, and a Masters in Business Administration (2019) from University College London.

Dr Officer will commence his appointment in early January 2024.

Published in Marine Science Team

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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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