Ireland's oceans have ability to significantly outperform global growth rate

30 June, 2017

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Peter Heffernan, Tom Kelley and Miguel Marques pictured at the launch of the Our Ocean Wealth summit in Galway.

Pictured at the 2017 'Our Ocean Wealth Summit' are (l-r): Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute; Tom Kelley, IDEO (Silicon Valley Innovation Guru and Keynote Speaker) and Miguel Marques, PwC Portugal Economist of the Sea.

Ireland's ocean economy can add to Ireland's wealth and contribute to job creation, according to Miguel Marques, PwC's global Economist of the Sea.

Speaking at the Our Ocean Wealth Summit at the National University of Ireland, Galway, Marques said: "Ireland has the ability to narrow the gap that exists between the current value of its ocean economy at 0.8% of GDP and the international average that stands at over 2%.

"The Irish Government’s integrated strategy for the marine economy, Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth, has set targets to double the value of Ireland’s ocean wealth by 2030, and I believe that Ireland has the potential to not only meet, but out-perform these ambitions. Ireland's ocean economy has the potential to significantly grow its ocean wealth and contribute to Ireland's wealth and job creation by 2030."

Marques previously addressed the Our Ocean Wealth Conference in Dublin in 2014.  

According to Marques, Ireland’s Blue economy has excellent potential to contribute to overall economic and employment growth, particularly if it leverages some of the opportunities presented by the global megatrends outlined in PwC's HELM research.

However, he called out specific challenges to overcome in order to succeed in this space.

Rapid urbanisation

The capital and people needed to develop sea activities that are based in cities. In Ireland, 50% of its population lives in coastal cities of Dublin and Cork.

Climate change and resource scarcity

The sea is opening up new sources of supply, relieving the pressure on land scarce resources. An environmentally sustainable approach to the oceans is key to investments, opening new solutions for the security of energy supply. Ireland has enormous potential to develop its offshore renewable energy industry and contribute to developing new solutions for global energy challenges.

Shift in global economic power

Because the seas are shared, the strategy must likewise be shared. The economy of the sea needs to be integrated not just across industries, but across countries and regions. With some 85% of global shipbuilding taking place in China, South Korea and Japan, the major competitive challenge is created that Ireland and Europe has to deal with. Possible increased protectionism as a result of Brexit and potential changes in US trading rules may amplify this challenge.

Demographic and social change

The world will need to feed 9 billion people by 2050. Fishing and aquaculture will be vital in bridging the food gap that conventional farming will no longer be able to provide. In this scenario, the value of seafood proteins will increase. Ireland has one of the best waters in Europe for fishing and aquaculture, but Norway is the only European country that is in the top 15 of marine capture. Ireland can retain and add more value in the seafood industry. The new uses of the sea combined with technological breakthroughs will open opportunities for new jobs in Ireland.

Technological breakthrough

Technology is fundamental to overcoming the challenges of a resource that needs a three dimensional approach. Some industries operate on the surface (like shipping, fishing and cruise ships). Others are on the seabed (oil and gas), while others use the natural resources above the water. 'Blue biotechnology' is exploring the potential to apply genetic engineering to marine life forms for use in food productions, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and other industrial compounds.  Robotics and satellite monitoring are critical for sea exploration. Ireland is known globally for its IT and biotechnological excellence.

Miguel concluded: "The facts show that there is a huge 'Blue Opportunity' for Ireland to further create jobs and contribute to our economic growth."



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