The oceans and seas, if cared for responsibly, can provide food, medicine and energy for generations to come, the European Commission said today as it presented its blue economy initiative.
‘In Ireland, we really do have an underdeveloped blue economy,’ MEP Nessa Childers said in response this afternoon. ‘Which is a great pity because ocean resources can be used sustainably to help build local communities and industries.’
‘I am aware that there are cost issues,’ Ms Childers added. ‘At the moment, financially there are not incentives for businesses to really embrace blue energy. But I am hopeful that with proper support from Europe, this will be something that will change quite rapidly over coming years.
‘I am calling on the Government get up-to-speed on this issue if it is not already, because we don’t want to be left behind and we don’t want to miss out on financial support that could really help an island nation such as ourselves.’
The Commission is currently creating a digital map of the seabed of European waters; a vast project which it says it hopes will ultimately lower costs relating to harnessing blue energy. Nearly a third of seabeds in the region remain undocumented.
‘We have lots of very innovative; very well-respected marine scientists in Ireland, but unfortunately maritime research between Member States is currently not linked up – which is just a waste. Tackling that one issue alone would be hugely beneficial for the industry,’ Ms Childers, an independent politician, continued.
‘The Commission says this platform should be in place by the end of next year, and it’s important that Ireland’s MEPs ensure that this happens on time.’
European Commissioner for Research and Innovation, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, said today: ‘We probably know more about the surface of the Moon and even Mars than we do about the deep sea floor. Maritime innovation has enormous potential for our economy, and will help us meet challenges like climate change and food security.’
The EU’s blue economy currently employs five million in areas including fisheries, transport, marine biotech and offshore renewables.