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Taoiseach Launches Plan to Double Ireland's Ocean Wealth

02 August 2012

IRELAND - The Taoiseach Enda Kenny, has launched a Government plan to double the value of Ireland’s ocean wealth to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2030 and to increase the turnover from the ocean economy to exceed €6.4bn by 2020.

The report, ‘Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth - An Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland’ was launched at the Marine Institute, Galway.

The plan presents a roadmap for the Government’s vision to tap into a €1,200 billion global market for seafood, tourism, oil and gas, renewable ocean energy and new applications for health, medicine and technology. It sets out three high-level goals to achieve a thriving maritime economy, healthy ecosystems, and to increase our engagement with the sea.

The Taoiseach said: “This plan is a dynamic one and will ensure that our vision remains constant - to dramatically improve our ability as a nation and people to harness our ocean wealth. The Government is determined that it will be a key component of our economic recovery and sustainable growth generating social, economic and cultural benefits for all.”

The plan focuses on the State creating the right conditions to promote investment and enable growth. Good governance and maritime safety, security and surveillance of our ocean wealth are key to achieving the targets. The provision of a robust planning and licensing framework, underpinned by robust legislation and regulation can support sustainable development and create a degree of certainty, as well as a safe and stable environment for business and consumers.

Simon Coveney, Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine, said: “For too long we have turned our backs on the sea and it’s time now to look to our ocean as a national asset, to harness the opportunities for economic recovery. We need to treasure what we have and protect it for future generations. We also need to build on the potential of our ocean wealth and what it can give back to its people. ‘Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth’ puts a structure in place to make that happen.”

Fifteen actions are identified for implementation in the period 2012-2014. These include the development of an enterprise strategy to generate momentum in specific emerging market opportunities, for example offshore renewable, offshore services, ICT and sensors, and biotechnology and the development of an integrated approach to marine and coastal planning and licensing in order to maximise the potential for Ireland’s ocean economy is also a priority action. This will focus on addressing deficiencies in the current planning and licensing system and developing an appropriate Maritime Spatial Planning Framework for Ireland.

An integrated approach across Government is essential to the successful implementation of the plan. It is a ‘whole of Government initiative’ under the supervision of the Marine Coordination Group chaired by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Two Task Forces will be established to strengthen the role of the Marine Coordination Group, one to focus on enabling actions and one to focus on development actions. They will be drawn from the relevant Departments and Agencies as well as external participants. Implementation of the plan will be a dynamic process delivered within the medium-term fiscal framework and budgetary targets adopted by the Government.

It will evolve over the period to 2020 in light of evolving circumstances nationally and internationally.

‘Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth – An Integrated marine Plan for Ireland’ was informed and shaped by the views and opinions of a wide range of stakeholders who contributed to the consultation process during February and March this year during which over 190 submissions were received. It sets out a shared vision: ‘Our ocean wealth will be a key element of our economic recovery and sustainable growth, generating benefits for all our citizens, supported by coherent policy, planning and regulation and managed in an integrated manner’.

The vision and goals have been framed in the context of what is happening at the broader global and EU level, particularly the EU’s Blue Growth Strategy and the EU Strategy for the Atlantic (in preparation). It also complements existing and emerging national, regional and local marine and non-marine plans already underway, for example, the Government Action Plan for Jobs, Report on the Research Prioritisation Exercise, Sustainable Development Framework for Ireland, Food Harvest 2020 and a new Ports Policy (due in 2012). An annual report will be published in 2014 and each year thereafter, to show the progress under Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth and an Annual National Seminar will be held.

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