Bere Island. Pic: Bere Island Heritage Centre

THE Taoiseach Enda Kenny has launched a Government plan to double the value of Ireland’s ocean wealth to 2.4% of GDP by 2030 and increase the turnover from our 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 TD, Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine TD, 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.

The report is available to download from www.ouroceanwealth.ie.