Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth is an Integrated Marine Plan (IMP), setting out a roadmap for the Government’s vision, high-level goals and integrated actions across policy, governance and business to enable our marine potential to be realised. Implementation of this Plan will see Ireland evolve an integrated system of policy and programme planning for our marine affairs. Implementation of the Plan will, of course, have to be delivered within the over-riding medium-term fiscal framework and budgetary targets adopted by the Government.
Our ocean is a national asset, supporting a diverse marine economy, with vast potential to tap into a €1,200 billion global marine market for seafood, tourism, oil and gas, marine renewable energy, and new applications for health, medicine and technology. In 2007, Ireland generated 1.2% of GDP (€2.4bn direct and indirect Gross Value Added) from its ocean economy, supporting about 1% of the total workforce. Global marine economic activity is estimated to contribute 2% of the world’s GDP and the European Commission estimates that between 3% and 5% of Europe’s GDP was generated from sea-related industries and services in 2007. Many believe that we can achieve substantially more. This real opportunity demands a strong integrated cross-government plan of action.
Our marine resources also provide essential non-commercial benefits such as amenity, biodiversity and our mild climate. Ireland’s marine ecosystems (i.e. offshore, inshore and coastline) are home to a rich and diverse range of species and habitats. Our national asset offers significant potential for Ireland’s marine enterprises and sectors and needs to be protected, managed and developed for and by our citizens. The Government is determined to ensure that our ocean wealth will be a key component of our economic recovery and sustainable growth, generating benefits for all our citizens.
An Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland
In Ireland, responsibility for marine matters is spread across a number of government departments and agencies. In recognition of the need for better coordination, the broad scope of the sector and the underutilisation of our ocean wealth, the Government, through the Marine Coordination Group (MCG), which includes senior representatives from the departments with marine responsibilities, have developed Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth – An Integrated Marine Plan (IMP) for Ireland. The IMP provides a new momentum for growth in the marine area and seeks to ensure government departments work together more efficiently and effectively on the diverse issues related to the marine. The IMP marks a key milestone, with recognition by Government that integrated planning and actions become the norm for marine and maritime affairs. The IMP is designed to make a valuable contribution to getting the environment right for investment and so stimulate essential private investment. The IMP will help realise the potential of our marine economy and will allow us to strike a balance between protecting our marine environment (and its species and habitats) and maximising the use of its resources as a source of economic growth.
A key step in developing Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth – An IMP for Ireland was to gather the widest possible source of ideas and opinions through inclusive stakeholder consultation. Early in 2012, a consultation document entitled Our Ocean Wealth: Seeking Your Views: New Ways; New Approaches; New Thinking was launched. One hundred and ninety-two submissions were received from a wide range of stakeholders. As part of the consultation process, Minister Coveney T.D. and representatives of the Marine Coordination Group presented the initiative to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Natural Resources and Agriculture, which later made a formal submission to the process. The views from the consultation have informed and shaped Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth.