#OurOceanWeath - Employment growth of more than 16% in the marine sector was among the encouraging statistics cited by Marine Minister Michael Creed in his address to the Our Ocean Wealth Summit, which opened at Galway Docks yesterday (Thursday 28 June).
“Ireland has taken important strides in recent years in developing our blue economy. This is being driven at the highest levels of Government and represents a unique and joined up approach to growing Ireland’s blue economy.
“The work of our cross Departmental high level Marine Co-ordination Group (MCG), which I chair, will continue as we seek to build on recent success,” Minister Creed said.
Updated statistics indicate that the direct economic value of Ireland’s ocean economy now stands at €2 billion, or approximately 1% of GDP, which represents a 21% increase on 2015 figures.
“The 2017 estimates suggest that our ‘blue economy’ continues to grow at a faster pace than the general economy,” the minister added. “Growth in 2017 is being driven by strong performances in the aquaculture, sea fisheries, shipping and marine tourism industries as well as continued growth in the emerging ocean industries.
“A really encouraging statistic is the growth in employment for the marine sector which has risen from 27,888 (FTEs) in 2015 to an estimated 32,509 (FTEs) in 2017, an increase of 16.6%.”
Minister Creed also announced the publication of the latest annual Progress Report on Ireland’s Integrated Marine Plan - Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth.
“This report which covers inputs from across state departments and agencies, provides a wealth of information, spanning governance, research, education, international co-operation, business development, sustainability, and protection and conservation of marine ecosystems,” he said.
The Our Ocean Wealth Summit, now in its fifth year, forms a key part of the Government's integrated plan for Ireland’s marine sector and brings together national and international expert speakers, industry leaders, business development agencies and the Irish business and marine research community. This year’s discussions focused on the overall theme of ‘Investing in Marine Ireland’.
Ahead of the summit, PwC and the Marine Institute released the results of a joint survey of leading voices in Ireland’s maritime industry, which revealed “overwhelming confidence in Ireland’s maritime sector in spite of challenges posed by Brexit”.
Other findings include the potential of offshore wind and ocean energy, which is seen as a key opportunity for the marine sector, while overall, maritime leaders believe further investment in the marine industry is critical.
The Our Ocean Wealth Summit is part of a range of industry and innovation events taking place in Galway as part of SeaFest 2018, Ireland's national maritime festival, which opens today (Friday 29 June). A wide range of public events are taking place in Galway Harbour and Docks and the city over the weekend till Sunday 1 July.
Among them will be Life and the Sea, a special civic and military commemorative event to remember all those who have lost their lives at sea, and recognising the heroism of the men and women of our rescue services.
There will be musical performances, while poems will be read by Tony Hiney, community fundraising manager of the Western Region of the RNLI, and Lt Cdr David Fleming, Officer Commanding of the LÉ William Butler Yeats.
A lone piper will play, which will be followed by ship horns and a flyover by the Air Corps.