Researchers from NUI Galway, along with members of the Border, Midland and Western (BMW) Regional Assembly, officially launched the new MARNET project at a major EU Commission Marine conference in Bilbao, Spain earlier this week.
MARNET (Marine Atlantic Regions Network) is a three year co-operation project involving regional authorities and marine socio-economists in Ireland, Spain, France, Portugal and Scotland. The initiative will establish an EU Atlantic Marine Socio-Economic Network that will map the value of the Atlantic Marine economy through the development of reliable and comparable socio-economic data throughout Atlantic Regions.
Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) in NUI Galway is the lead scientific partner on this large scale EU INTERREG project. SEMRU, created in NUI Galway in 2008 with the support of the Marine Institute Beaufort Marine Socio-Economic Award, is focused on economic and social research to quantify the economic importance of Ireland’s marine environment in support of ‘evidence-based’ policy development within the marine sector.
Attending the launch, Dr Frances Fahy, Lecturer in Geography at NUI Galway and MARNET researcher, said: “The main aim of the MARNET project is to develop a Marine Atlantic Regions Network and to establish formal co-operative links between marine socio-economic research institutions and other bodies operating in the European Atlantic coastal zone.”
Assembly Director Gerry Finn welcomed the EU Commission's support for the MARNET project adding: “MARNET is an important development in Maritime co-operation in Atlantic Regions. The availability of comparable socio-economic data in the sector is vital to targeting future funds to niche areas of the Marine Economy. I am delighted that the BMW Regional Assembly is in a position to co-ordinate this exercise which up to this point has not been achieved at an EU level. I look forward to the engagement of local authorities and industry representatives in the project who will identify specific practical initiatives for the sector. This initiative complements the recently launched Marine strategy for Ireland 'Our Ocean Wealth' which aims to realise the significant potential of the marine sector to contribute to job creation and economic development in Ireland.”
MARNET was presented to over 150 delegates from throughout the Atlantic Region at an EU Forum Conference event in Bilbao, Spain. The consultation seminar was organised by DG MARE of the EU Commission as part of the development of the EU Maritime Strategy for the Atlantic Area. The key note address was delivered by President of the Poitou Charentes Regional Council, Ms Segolene Royal who was a candidate for the presidency of France in 2007.