Delegates at an international conference of marine scientists, SEABED 10, in Dublin on the 5th and 6th October will hear how an independent study has valued the benefits of the state's marine mapping programme at €275 million.
This is more than four times what will be spent completing the "INFOMAR" programme, one of the largest science projects ever undertaken in Ireland and an excellent example of co-operation between state bodies - being jointly managed by the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) and the Marine Institute (MI).
In announcing the conference, Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Mr. Conor Lenihan, TD., commented "Ireland leads the way in global marine science and seabed mapping and this conference will showcase our achievements to date. At a time of financial difficulties it is crucial that such projects can be demonstrated to have a significant fiscal benefit to the state and I welcome the findings of a PricewaterhouseCoopers report on INFOMAR showing a return of over four times the cost. The benefits accrue across a range of sectors from fishing, tourism and energy, to compliance with international legislation and the research sector. The study, as well as tangible examples of real benefits to the state, will be presented at the conference.
The state's latest research vessel the RV KEARY, a dedicated inshore mapping launch, will also be named during the conference. The vessel is a 15 metre aluminium catamaran, purpose-built for inshore mapping with state of the art technology.
Amongst her best attributes is her ability to deliver exceptional depth accuracy, vital for safe transport and offshore development and protection. She is named after the late Raymond Keary, distinguished Irish marine geologist who had the vision of a national marine mapping project. According to Minister Lenihan, "in commissioning the new vessel, KEARY, we will also see cost effective mapping of our shallowest waters and a valuable addition to our national research capacity."
One project based on seabed mapping results has just returned from deepwater filming of coral reefs on parts of the Rockall Bank for the very first time. The survey partners - GSI, MI and the National Parks and Wildlife Service - employed the Marine Institute vessel, the RV Celtic Explorer and her new remotely operated vehicle, the ROV Holland.
This study will assist the process of designation of new offshore Special Areas of Conservation.
The Conference takes place at Liberty Hall in Dublin on October 5th and 6th, with the vessel-naming at Poolbeg Marina on Tuesday evening at 5.45. Interested parties can register at www.infomar.ie.