Connacht Tribune - Opinion Piece
Marine plan aims to double the value of Ireland’s ocean wealthAugust 1, 2012 - 11:17am
The Government has unveiled plans to double the value of Ireland’s ocean wealth and increase the turnover from our ocean economy to exceed €6.4 billion by 2020.
Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth – An Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland was launched at the Marine Institute in Oranmore by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Marine Minister Simon Coveney on Tuesday.
Minister Coveney said the plan was an ‘overarching policy document’ that would become the roadmap for the development of the marine sector in Ireland for the next 20 years. The plan would put the marine sector on a par with industries such as food, ICT, pharmaceutical and the financial services sector in Dublin, which up to now were priorities over marine.
However, he did specifically mention the Marine Institute as being the ‘jewel in the crown’ of Ireland’s marine sector and said that the institute in Oranmore had the potential to branch out into becoming the country’s global centre of excellence for marine education and research and development. It could become a “World class centre for training and education around the marine space so we can bring people here, people who will pay a lot of money to come here and study in places like the Marine Institute,” he said.
Currently Ireland’s ocean wealth value to the economy is just 1.6% of GDP but this will be increased to at least 2.4% by 2030 and the increase in turnover from the ocean would double from just over €3 billion now to €6.4 billion in 2020. “As an island nation we are totally failing. The average ocean wealth value in Europe is between 3% and 5% of GDP,” he said.
That will change as a result of this policy document which strives to get Ireland to no longer ‘turn its back on the sea’ but to view it as a valuable natural asset – Ireland’s marine territory spans over 220 million acres, ten times the size of the island of Ireland.
“If you get on a plane at Galway Airport and you fly west for two and a half hours you’ll still be over Irish sovereign territory – the sea. It’s our largest natural resource,” he said.
He said the policy document would help to “Develop Ireland’s reputation as an island that prioritises the marine in sport, in academia, in research, in energy, in shipping, in tourism, in fishing, in aquaculture, in cruise liner business, in salmon farming. Whatever it is, it is in this strategy,” he said.
This was a new direction for Government, he said. “In the past, success was measured by how much was spent. So if you wanted to measure how committed the government of the day was to the marine sector it was measured by how many marinas or piers it built. This plan is about facilitating private investment, attracting private investors to go out there and make things happen, look at what happened with the Volvo Ocean Race here in Galway, for example,” he said.
An Taoiseach said he was present at the launch of the document to show how serious this Government was about the implementation of the plan.
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.