Collaboration and scientific research are now more important than ever as we continue to work together to understand and protect our "One Shared Ocean, One Shared Future". This week's Oceans of Learning topic, the final one in the 10-week series from the Marine Institute, focuses on partnerships between marine science, industry and education and how these collaborations strengthen the goal in ensuring the healthy and sustainable future for our ocean.
Marking the closing week of the Oceans of Learning series, Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine Dara Calleary said, "As an island nation, Ireland has a special relationship with the seas and oceans. The future of Ireland's seafood sector and coastal communities will depend on the sustainable management of this precious resource. Ireland's existing integrated marine plan which developed a cross Government approach, in partnership with industry, has significantly increased the focus on the value of our marine economy.
Under the new Programme for Government – Our Shared Future, we will develop a new sustainable successor plan to maintain momentum, in terms of economic development, while simultaneously protecting our marine resources. Seafood is an integral part of our ocean economy and the Programme for Government commits to promoting the sustainability objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy. By setting quotas in line with Maximum Sustainable Yield principles and promoting developments in fishing methods, we will work to secure a sustainable future for the fishing sector, and the coastal communities which depend on it.
We will also work to develop the aquaculture sector in a sustainable way including shellfish aquaculture using native species. The Government also recognises the enormous potential that the ocean has to offer in tackling climate change and the need for further scientific research to understand and develop this potential."
Collaboration is one of the core values of the Marine Institute's work and underpins everything that it does, across all the service areas of the organisation. This broad and diverse work includes mapping our seabed, providing policy support and scientific advice for the maritime sector, undertaking seafood safety monitoring services, working with stakeholders and funding marine research projects in conjunction with higher education institutes. The Marine Institute leads and participates in many national and international scientific projects that are strategically aligned to improving their scientific services.
"It is vital to have a culture of open communication and a collaborative mind set with government, industry and other organisations in Ireland, to keep a focus on knowledge gap areas and new research requirements that will allow us to sustainably use and protect our ocean resource," said Dr Paul Connolly, CEO of the Marine Institute. "Working on the international stage is also very important and is key to develop research programmes that deepen our understanding of the ocean and predict how it may change and impact on our island nation."
Research funding is central to the Marine Institute's activities. Partly inspired by the Apollo 11 ambition to put a man on the moon, the European research and innovation Missions aim to deliver solutions to the greatest challenges facing our world. Over the next 10 years, the EU is committed to fund research that addresses major societal challenges through a bold, forward looking initiative called the Horizon Europe Missions.
Mission Ocean focuses on restoring the health of our oceans, seas, rivers and lakes and on celebrating our planet’s most precious resource. The goal of Mission Ocean is that by 2030 we will be focused on cleaning marine and fresh waters, restoring degraded ecosystems and habitats, decarbonising the blue economy in order to sustainably harness the essential 'goods and services' that our oceans, seas, rivers and lakes provide.
"The ocean is our greatest natural resource. It provides us with the oxygen we breathe, provides us with food, influences our weather and climate, contributes to our economy, sustains our coastal communities and promotes our overall wellbeing. Understanding our ocean and providing the scientific advice for its sustainable use are central to the Marine Institute's work and are key to our future," said Dr Connolly.
An important element in ensuring our ocean's health and preserving our shared future, is the role that all citizens can play in embracing the importance of the ocean in our daily lives. Outreach activities such as the Oceans of Learning online series, and events such as SeaFest (Ireland's largest maritime festival), Our Ocean Wealth Summit, and others, help the Marine Institute to create awareness and foster strong networks with organisations and with citizens in Ireland and around the world.
It's particularly important to engage our youth (the future scientists and advocates for our ocean) so that they understand and embrace how vital the ocean is to society. The Explorers Education Programme, which is funded by the Marine Institute, engages with thousands of primary school children, teachers and the education network annually, creating marine leaders and ocean champions around the country. Internationally the Marine Institute supports the All Atlantic Ocean Youth Ambassador Programme, led by DG Research and Innovation, with the first Youth Ambassador School coordinated by the Marine Institute in Galway.
Since its establishment in 1991, the Marine Institute has built strong partnerships with academic institutions by hosting scientists who work alongside its scientific and technical staff. This provides essential training, facilitates collaboration and increases the research capacity and knowledge in the Institute. Many of these collaborations are facilitated through surveys on board the Institute's two research vessels, RV Celtic Explorer and RV Celtic Voyager.
The Cullen Fellowship programme, which provides fellowships to postgraduates to work on projects across many areas of Institute research activity, is another key way that partnerships are nurtured and lead to new research outcomes.
This week's Oceans of Learning topic focuses on many key collaborations and partnerships involving the Institute and spotlights some key projects undertaken by partners.
It also features a very special live event on Thursday 23 July, an exclusive Irish interview with Kathy Sullivan. She is the first person to ever experience travelling to both deep space and the ocean's deep and will be interviewed by broadcaster Pat Kenny for the event 'Extraordinary Exploration: From Space to the Sea Floor'.
Kathy Sullivan said, "We live on a very dynamic planet and need rich, detailed information to understand it. Whether it is in deep space or oceans deep, it is important to be curious and explore our complex planet. I am delighted to be returning virtually to Ireland as part of the Marine Institute's Oceans of Learning series, to share my experiences and inspire the next generation of explorers."
Already in the history books as the first American woman to walk in space in 1984, Kathy found herself making history again just last month when she became the first woman to reach Challenger Deep, the deepest known location in the ocean. The two missions, total opposites in the minds of many, for Sullivan, come from one simple desire: to understand the world around her as much as possible.
As we've seen over the past nine weeks of Oceans of Learning, this kind of passion for learning and innovation is central to the work of those furthering marine science, exploration and education. The series has looked at topics including a changing ocean climate, food from our ocean, innovation for a sustainable future, marine biodiversity and many more. At the heart of all this work is collaboration and partnership, to ensure that the focus is always on one shared ocean, one shared future.
This week's topic is part of Oceans of Learning, a 10-week series where the Marine Institute and partners celebrate our world's shared ocean and our connection to the sea, sharing news and offering online activities, videos and downloadable resources on a new marine topic each week. To view this week's resources, visit One Shared Ocean, One Shared Future.