The annual Our Ocean Wealth Summit is in Galway next week exploring how to develop the marine economy, and former Uachtarán na hÉireann Mary Robinson will be giving the keynote address.
While Ireland is known for many qualities, vast stores of untapped natural resources isn’t one of them. The Slieve Aughty mountains aren’t filled with vast stores of gold or rare earth elements. The Corrib gas field is hardly going to supplant Russia as an energy exporter.
But we do have our waters, and since 2014 the Our Ocean Wealth Summit has been bringing together scientists, businesses, and environmental groups to look at ways to further develop the marine economy.
Many of the big issues dominating this year’s conference are the same one that are hanging over the rest of the economy. How to prepare for the impact of Brexit, and how disruptive technologies will change the way we interact with the ocean.
President Robinson set up the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice in 2010 with the goal of empowering the poorest and most vulnerable people, those most at risk from climate change, to be heard when wealthy societies talk about development.
She’ll be giving her keynote address on Thursday, the first day of the conference, at 14:30.
This year’s summit has attracted high level marine sector speakers from across the globe including Blue Planet producer Orla Doherty, US Astronaut and Oceanographer Kathryn Sullivan, and head of Ocean Economy at the OECD Jill Tully.
The summit will open with a discussion on how Brexit will impact Ireland’s marine sector, with a particular focus on the seafood industry.
BIM, the seafood industry development agency, will host a series of talks on how regulations for seafood exports could change, and what companies can do to prepare.
While Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed will discuss the government’s current state of preparation for Brexit.
Despite the potential impact of Brexit, Minister Creed is optimistic for the future of the marine sector: “Ireland has a real opportunity to lead in terms of innovation, competitive advantage in the seafood sector, shipping services, marine industry, renewable energy and connected marine devices and solutions.”
“This event brings the experts and experience together to convene, network and share knowledge required to drive forward our blue economy.”
The marine sector is worth €2 billion to the Irish economy every year, with annual industry turnover of over €5.7 billion when all’s said and done.
Other presentations will be about investment in offshore renewable energy, be it wind, wave, or tidal, how new data technologies and smart shipping will change sea freight, and making sure that any growth is done sustainably at a time when ocean pollution is right in the public eye.
CEO of the Marine Institute Peter Heffernan said: “Ireland’s oceans represent enormous commercial opportunities and this Summit will be relevant to organisations involved in offshore renewable energy, marine biotech, aquaculture and fisheries, shipping, marine mining and exploration,”
“We are also mindful of the need to manage this incredible blue resource to ensure its viability and health into the future.”
Each day will open with the marine Trade show, with over 60 companies showing off their products and services at a marquee that’ll be set up at the docks.
The 2018 Our Ocean Wealth Summit will take place next Thursday and Friday down at the docks.