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Government commits to continuation of €15m marine research project

gsi boat at sea

Dublin,31 December 2013

Minister for Natural Resources, Fergus O'Dowd, T.D. today set out details of upcoming projects in the National Marine Mapping Programme (INFOMAR), and pledged Government commitment of €15m for the next 5 years, for the continuation of what he called "the most valuable resource for marine research and development in Ireland and beyond".

Covering some 125,000 square kilometres of underwater territory, the INFOMAR project is producing new mapping and integrated products covering the Irish maritime space. It provides seabed surveys, which are used in all activities from planning for offshore renewable energy projects to ensuring shipping lanes are safely charted.

Commenting today, Minister O'Dowd said: 'I am delighted to announce the continuation of the INFOMAR project. This is a world class undertaking which is providing crucial information towards the development of Ireland's 220 million acres that lie under the sea. I am particularly pleased to see the programme focus on adding value to the data and ensuring INFOMAR plays it's part in developing jobs and growth,"

The decision to continue the project was taken following a second full independent review of its operations by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The initial review, undertaken in 2008, concluded that the benefits to the state of completing the project are between 4 and 6 times the cost. The second review showed the project to be on track and recommended accelerated development of business and educational applications. Dublin Business Innovation Centre (DBIC) have now been contracted to work with the project on this area, including new products, apps, and educational resources.

In the eight years since it began, the INFOMAR project has conducted detailed surveys along the SouthWest, South and East coasts and completed mapping of most Irish bays and harbours including, Dublin, Cork, Shannon and Galway. To date the programme has helped produce:
New navigational charts
Shipwreck maps and books
New Marine Special Areas of Conservation
Data to underpin Foreshore Licensing
Maps for offshore renewable planning, cable and pipeline routes
Ireland's largest digital database of marine information

The programme is funded by Department of Communications , Energy and Natural Resources and managed by Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI), in conjunction with the Marine Institute (MI). Mapping is carried out using all of the states marine research vessels, the Celtic Explorer and Voyager managed by MI and the Keary, Geo and Cosantoir Bradan managed by GSI. The next phase of the project will include mapping of Lough Foyle, Lough Swilly, Broadhaven Bay, Youghal, Dungarvan and Drogheda. It will also see the launch of a range of new services, reports and apps.

Ends

Notes to Editors

INFOMAR stands for Integrated Mapping for the Sustainable Development of Irelands Marine Resource.

The INFOMAR project is an ambitious joint venture to map Ireland's most productive and commercially valuable inshore waters and is being undertaken by Geological Survey of Ireland and the Marine Institute. Covering some 125,000 square kilometres of underwater territory, the INFOMAR project is producing integrated mapping products covering the physical, chemical and biological features of the seabed. INFOMAR follows on from the Irish National Seabed Survey, which mapped all of Ireland's deeper waters between 1999-2005, and taken together they represent the largest such projects undertaken anywhere in the world.

Use of the data obtained under the project include:
the development of offshore energy, with the mapping key to identifying suitable sites and cable routes for wind, wave and tidal generators.
safer offshore navigation, with new charts recently produced for Dublin Bay and Kinsale
supports work being carried out under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, whereby Ireland has been successful in extended continental shelf submissions
modelling of tides and currents which is vital for the aquaculture and costal protection engineers
production of maps on the nature of the seabed (whether mud, sand, rock or gravel) which is used in both environmental protection and more efficient fishing practices
provision of updates for the national shipwrecks database maintained by National Monuments Service and used by sport fishermen and divers.

Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI), part of DCENR, acts as the states Geoscience Agency and is responsible for providing geological advice and information, and for the acquisition of data for this purpose. GSI produces a range of products including maps, reports and databases and acts as a knowledge centre and project partner in all aspects of Irish geology.

The Marine Institute (MI)cis the national agency responsible for Marine Research, Technology Development and Innovation (RTDI). They seek to assess and realise the economic potential of Ireland's 220 million acre marine resource; promote the sustainable development of marine industry through strategic funding programmes and essential scientific services; and safeguard our marine environment through research and environmental monitoring.

Dublin Business Innovation Centre (Dublin BIC) is a public-private business support organisation. We work with state agencies and private sector investors to support entrepreneurs as they build the next generation of successful Irish businesses.

For further information please contact:

Press Office Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources

T: 678 2441 / 087 6937580

E.mail: press.office@dcenr.gov.ie

Photos of mapping, boats and shipwreck available on request.

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