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Ireland’s Ocean Economy Generates Over €7 Billion in Turnover - Report

18th December 2023
Dr. Jeong-In Chang, Director of Ocean Economy Research Division in the Korea Maritime Institute (KMI), Jenny O’Leary, Policy, Innovation & Research Services, Marine Institute and Professor Stephen Hynes, Director of SEMRU, University of Galway, at the 13th Annual Marine Economics and Policy Research Symposium
Dr. Jeong-In Chang, Director of Ocean Economy Research Division in the Korea Maritime Institute (KMI), Jenny O’Leary, Policy, Innovation & Research Services, Marine Institute and Professor Stephen Hynes, Director of SEMRU, University of Galway, at the 13th Annual Marine Economics and Policy Research Symposium

The Marine Institute, in collaboration with the Socio Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) at the University of Galway, has published an update on the performance of Ireland’s Ocean Economy. The 2023 Ocean Economy Report provides an update on Ireland’s ocean economy for 2022 across three main economic indicators: turnover, gross value added (GVA) and employment.

The report estimates the annual trends across all sectors as well as commentary on 5-year, 10-year and post-Covid recovery (where evident). The report also provides information on the relative contribution of each marine industry to the ocean economy, an overview of direct and indirect impact of Ireland’s ocean economy, and trends since 2010.

The 2023 Ocean Economy report shows that Ireland’s ocean economy, in nominal terms:

  • generates over €7 billion in turnover;
  • has a direct economic contribution, as measured by Gross Value Added, of €2.85 billion; and
  • employs approximately 33,500 Full-Time Equivalents.

The Ireland’s Ocean Economy Report series provides a time series of nominal values for ocean economy industries. This year’s report reviews these values to also provide an estimate of ‘real values’ to adjust for inflation. The report shows that nominal and real values for the period 2010 to 2020 are similar and stable due to the low annual rate of inflation. However, from 2020 onwards the difference between the nominal and real values starts to increase due to higher inflation and the significant increase in gas prices in 2021 and 2022 in particular.

Preliminary results from the report were presented at SEMRU’s 13th Annual Marine Economics and Policy Research Symposium, which took place on 13th December 2023 in Galway City. The symposium presented an opportunity for national and international researchers to discuss their research in the area of marine socio-economics and policy. This included topics such as national and regional implementation of Maritime Spatial Planning (UCC), community—led coastal socio-economic development in the Connemara Gaeltacht (QUB), building coastal resilience (University of Galway), challenges to eco-innovation in shipbuilding networks (TCD), and incorporating social and economic data into ecosystem-based management and advice (Marine Institute).

The audience also heard from the Korea Maritime Institute on the work undertaken to value the Korean Ocean Economy, as well as hearing from the Center for the Blue Economy in California, on the US Government’s recently launched Fifth National Climate Assessment and some of the related socio-economic challenges.

The methodology used to value Ireland’s ocean economy was also presented by the Marine Institute and University of Galway at a recent workshop organised by the OECD as part of their ongoing work on ocean economy measurement, innovation and foresight. Discussions were held with the OECD and other International practitioners from Portugal, US, Korea and Norway on how best to measure the value arising from our oceans, and the challenges in incorporating spatial information, as well as the importance of the inclusion of non-market values to get a more holistic value of our blue economy and the ecosystem services it provides.

The work undertaken to measure Ireland’s ocean economy is being co-funded by the Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage through a Service Level Agreement aimed at providing technical and scientific data and evidence to support Marine Spatial Planning in Ireland.

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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