NUI Galway Hosts 2nd National Event of the Atlantic Action Plan

Dr Peter Heffernan, Marine Institute, Mr Iain Shepherd, European Commission, and Professor Michael Cuddy, Dr Amaya Vega, Professor John Mc Hale and Dr Stephen Hynes from NUI Galway.
Nov 30 2015 Posted: 15:49 GMT

Socio-economic marine research symposium focuses on achieving blue growth in the EU and marine policy, and the development of Ireland’s ocean wealth

The Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) at the Whitaker Institute and Focal Point Ireland at NUI Galway jointly organised the recent National Event of the Support Team for the Atlantic Action Plan, in association with the Annual Beaufort Socio-Economic Marine Research Symposium.

The Atlantic Action Plan aims to revitalise the marine and maritime economy in the Atlantic Ocean area. It shows how the EU's Atlantic Member States, their regions and the European Commission can help create sustainable growth in coastal regions and drive forward the ‘blue economy’ while preserving the environmental and ecological stability of the Atlantic Ocean.

With over 100 registered delegates, the day provided participants with an update on a wide range of topics related to the marine sector in Ireland and the Atlantic Area, as well as a forum for discussing funding opportunities available to Irish stakeholders.

There was a special on-line address by Commissioner Karmenu Vella, the European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, as well as input from Iain Shepherd, DG MARE of the European Commission, the Marine Institute, Fáilte Ireland and the INTERREG programmes (an EU supported Structural Funds Programme which supports strategic cross-border and inter-regional co-operation in in the European Union).

Delegates had the opportunity to listen to Irish and international researchers in the area of marine socio-economics and discuss on-going research, potential collaboration and future research needs.

The event hosted two parallel sessions and showcased current socio-economic marine research and funding opportunities. Sessions focused on the INTERREG Atlantic Area and the Ireland Wales programme and facilitated the use of these programmes in implementing the Atlantic Action Plan. Presentations from both the national contact points of these programmes as well as input from stakeholders involved in these programmes created a lively discussion on the opportunities available, how people are looking to avail of these with the ultimate aim of generating potential project ideas to bring forward in the future. A number of project ideas were presented and discussed on a one-to-one basis in a dedicated networking session in the afternoon.

The first session focused on Achieving Blue Growth in the EU: Case Study for Ireland, with an overview of the Atlantic Action Plan and discussion on Measuring the EU and Ireland’s Blue Economy. The second session focused on Marine Policy and the Development of Ireland’s Ocean Wealth: Opportunities and Challenges, with an overview of the Role of the Marine Institute in Marine Policy, Research and Innovation in Ireland and Business Opportunities Associated with the Wild Atlantic Way – Brand and Progress. Each session was followed by two parallel sessions on Implementing Priority 4 of the Atlantic Action Plan and opportunities of the INTERREG Atlantic Area, Ireland-Wales Programmes and Beaufort Socio-Economic Marine Research.

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