18th December

Robots navigate underwater obstacle course

A one-day course to design, build and test underwater robots attracted students from Cork Institute of Technology, the Irish Naval Service and University College Cork to the Hydraulic and Maritime Research Centre.

IMERC Robot-wars

Sponsored by the Doyle Group and Wavin, and facilitated by IMERC and MaREI, students used their engineering knowledge to build robots to navigate an underwater obstacle course. The competition challenged students to be creative by using basic materials such as wavin piping, small motors, tape cable ties and glue.

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Gauntlet thrown down for marine development

Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO the Marine Institute told delegates attending the first annual conference of Our Ocean Wealth that the financial impact to Ireland’s recovering economy from its expanding maritime sector will be maximised only if we learn to think beyond the existing barriers and learn to do things differently and by focusing more on international collaboration in technology and research.

OOW Heffernan

 Inshore Ireland spoke to Dr Hefferan and asked him to assess the progress to date of the government’s integrated maritime policy and where it has taken us so far.

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Cabinet recognition of Ireland’s marine resource potential

Government commitment to develop Ireland’s marine resource was underpinned by the presence of An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and four cabinet colleagues at the first annual conference of Our Ocean Wealth - the integrated marine plan for Ireland last month.

OOW cabinet

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny; Minister Simon Coveney; Minister Fergus O'Dowd; Minister Pat Rabbitte and Minister Sean Sherlock speaking at Our Ocean Wealth conference

“Today’s conference is a way of showing that the government is serious about the potential of this sector, and that we’ve decided to take real, strong, clear action,” remarked An Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

“And we’re saying to people who are thinking about investment to look at this plan, and look at our progress. You can see where our commitment is. Add to that your ideas, your own initiatives, your own propositions because now is the time to get really serious about this.

“It’s time to get really involved and time to get really committed. The frontiers up ahead are changing by the week. We’ve got the capacity and the potential in our young people – specialists in science - who have that creativity, that ingenuity to deal with the opportunities of the future in a way that has never even been contemplated in the past.

"We’re removing obstacles, and we’re opening the way for sustainable investment in the marine sector in Ireland,” he added.

Endorsing these sentiments, marine minister Simon Coveney however noted Ireland's poor historic recognition of this projected multi-billion euro resource:

“In my view it is really a source of some shame it has taken us until now to really drive and put together a focused and integrated marine strategy for Ireland, despite the efforts of many people in this room who have been passionate about this sector for many, many years. We’re on a very exciting voyage together.

“I can assure you that right at the top of government…we have people who are determined to make this strategy a reality, and to work with you to ensure that we fulfill the potential of Ireland’s largest and most valuable resource ― not only between now and 2020 but beyond then.”

Minister Coveney praised the work of the Marine Co-ordination Group for “working hard and going beyond the call-of-duty in some cases to make the plan happen.

“We shouldn’t forget that it is personalities who will be the drivers towards a brighter future in a way that will make us all start talking about the marine,” he added.

Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute called for the international dimension of maritime research to be increased, and he highlighted the success of a joint project on board the RV Celtic Explorer involving Irish and Canadian marine scientists.

He welcomed the fact that Ireland’s “national blind spot” to the marine had all but disappeared now that government has realised the major impact the sector could have on the economy.

“I think the fact that An Taoiseach and four ministers are speaking at this conference demonstrates that the marine sector is now at the high-end of government awareness and priorities.

“And we shouldn’t forget either that one of the three over-arching goals of the OOW strategy is to promote an engagement of Irish society with the maritime dimension. The evidence is solidly there that the marine resource is finally receiving an unprecendented level of political focus and attention.”

Seabed mapping applications across many disciplines

Fabio Sacchetti, Vera Quinlan and Thomas Furey, Marine Institute

INFOMAR was centre-stage in the exhibition area of the first annual Ocean Wealth Conference at Dublin Castle on June 18 which recorded progress since publication of Harnessing our Ocean Wealth, Ireland’s Integrated Marine Plan (2013).

INFOMAR outputs were referred to by several speakers in different sectors as ‘critical’ to facilitating their successful development.

10.3MarineRD INFOMAR

Tommy Furey, Fergal McGrath, Fabio Sacchetti and Vera Quinlan, Marine Institute

The conference, attended by An Taoiseach and five government Ministers, addressed fisheries plans; development of a new tax regime for offshore petroleum exploitation; roll-out of the Wild Atlantic Way Failte Ireland initiative and moves towards implementation of a new Marine Spatial Planning system.

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Seabed mapping data to deliver added-value across marine tourism and business sectors

Tommy Furvey and Archie Donovan, joint INFOMAR managers

In 2013 INFOMAR (INtergrated Mapping For the Sustainable Development of Ireland’s MArine Resource) undertook a review to establish progress since 2008 across the three primary programme areas of activity; surveying, data provision, and encouraging associated research and development, or adding-value to the survey, infrastructure and data.

Unsurprisingly, performance was very strong in survey and data handling; however it was acknowledged that the reduced resources available to the programme (funding and staffing), impacted most on the latter area of value-added exploitation. To address this, INFOMAR is now working with the Dublin Business Innovation Centre to develop public awareness of the programme, and encourage new sectors to access and utilise the data for business development purposes.The long-term objective is to generate jobs and economic growth and leverage the maximum return on State investment in the seabed mapping initiatives.

10.2 marine RD

INFOMAR continues to play a key role in supporting strategic and research-related, national and EU, marine survey and data related initiatives. In addition to operational activity, INFOMAR acts as a researcher, research coordinator, and research funder, and strongly encourages industry research partnerships. In parallel however, specific focus not centres on a number of key targeted areas that will have significant long-term impact on a broad array of marine sectors.

Read more: Seabed mapping data to deliver added-value across marine tourism and business sectors

Four-part series looks beneath the waves off Ireland

Ireland's Ocean is a major new four-part ocean wildlife series for RTÉ One television beginning Sunday June 22 which explores diverse creatures from dolphins and sharks to plankton and the myriad of tiny colourful creatures that live in offshore and shallow waters around Ireland.

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The seas around Ireland are rich in marine and plant life. Photo George Karbus www.emerald-vision.com

The series looks at the history of man's relationship with and response to the sea, and exams common perceptions of dolphins and sharks:

Are dolphins highly intelligent, sensitive creatures capable of healing sick children? Why are worrying numbers of dolphins washing up dead on our Atlantic coast? Are sharks terrifying animals waiting below the sea surface to eat us?

Read more: Four-part series looks beneath the waves off Ireland

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