Delegates discussed how to promote the tourism industry and maintain its position not only as a sector for sustainable growth, but also as a means to help in the restoration of the wider economy and a key contributor to the EU's Blue Growth agenda.
The European Maritime Day was organised by the European Commission (DG for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries) in partnership with the Maltese Ministry for the Economy, Investment and Small Business, and the Maltese Ministry for Tourism.
The Marine Institute welcomed the speech made by Dinny McGinley's TD, Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht at the conference, where he said "In Ireland, our ocean is a national asset, supporting a diverse marine economy, with vast potential to tap into a €1,200 billion global marine market for seafood, tourism, oil and gas, marine renewable energy, and new applications for health, medicine and technology"
"Blue Growth is one of the priority areas in our Presidency programme and in particular the development of an Action Plan for the Atlantic Strategy, which will be launched in Galway later this week by Commissioner Damanaki. The Action Plan identifies a range of actions designed to deliver smart, sustainable and socially inclusive growth and jobs, included in the area of maritime and coastal tourism," he said.
Minister McGinley further highlighted the importance of The Integrated Marine Plan – Harnessing our Ocean Wealth, launched last year by the Irish Government. This Plan is providing momentum for growth in the marine area in Ireland. In particular he spoke of the projects including the development of the National Necklace of Lighthouses which is being organised by The Commissioners of Irish Lights and Fáilte Ireland.
The Minister also spoke of the projects including the Wild Atlantic Way – Ireland's first long distance driving route along the west coast covering 2,500 kilometre route and the Sail West project which was an INTERREG IVA cross boarder funded programme that has now been successfully implemented by Donegal County Council as lead partners.
Mrs Caroline Bocquel, Director of Corporate Services at the Marine Institute also chaired a workshop entitled "The EU Integrated Maritime Policy and human health and well-being: What's the connection?".
The workshop focused on the relationships between marine environmental health and human health. Speakers highlighted the need for a coordinated oceans and human health research programme in Europe, addressing real public health challenges associated with our interactions with the seas presented in the context of the EU Integrated Maritime Policy.
The European Maritime Day is an annual event celebrated on the 20th May since 2008. It was established jointly by the European Council, the European Parliament and European Commission as part of the EU's Integrated Maritime Policy, which was launched in 2007.
The conference event is organised in a different European country each year where it aims to highlight the crucial role that oceans and seas play in the everyday life of all EU citizens.
Countries that have hosted this event include Brussels 2008, Rome 2009, Gijon 2010, Gdansk 2011, and Gothenburg 2012.