Our ocean is a national asset. It supports a diverse marine economy with strategically significant potential to tap into the €1,200 billion global marine market for seafood, blue tourism, oil and gas resources, marine renewable energy, and new applications for health, medicine and technology (Dept. for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, 2012).
However, contemporary analysis argues convincingly that Ireland is currently not fully capitalising on our ocean assets and that significant progress can be made to harness our ocean wealth which can become a key component of our economic recovery and for sustainable growth, generating benefits for our population. On a global level, the demand for fish products is expected to grow given forecasts of continued population expansion, enhanced purchasing power and an increased awareness of dietary considerations. These forecasts position the aquaculture sector as an increasingly important raw material supplier to processing industries not to mention the opportunities in the greater marine sector such as seaweed and energy.
Údarás na Gaeltachta is the regional state agency with statutory responsibility for the economic, social and cultural development of the Gaeltacht regions of Ireland. An tÚdarás has always recognised the importance of the marine resource to the creation of sustainable employment opportunities and in the creation of local and regional economic development opportunities. The Gaeltacht coastline extends over some 2,500km from Donegal in the north to Ring in Co. Waterford. In spatial terms, it constitutes some 25% of the overall Irish coastline and includes the 6 offshore Gaeltacht islands. The agency’s objectives include the development of indigenous enterprises and the attraction of investment including FDI. Currently over 13% of ÚnaG clients are employed in the aquaculture and seafood processing sectors within the Gaeltacht regions.
Building on these strengths and on the work done by other public agencies to date, Údarás na Gaeltachta is leading an inter-agency team to develop a Marine Innovation Park (Páirc na Mara) at a brownfield site in Cill Chiaráin, Co. Galway. The development and investment plans which are currently being prepared will create in the region of 200 direct jobs and 400 indirect jobs over a five-year period.
The marine industry and ancillary activities represents the main employer in the Cill Chiaráin Bay area and is a significant contributor to total industry output on a regional and national level. The development of the marine sector has the potential to provide significant direct socio-economic benefits for the region and to generate other stimuli to further integrate the development and growth of the local economy. Cill Chiaráin also offers the potential to develop a sustainable aquaculture cluster around the existing range of activities which are located there. These activities embrace most aspects of the industry’s supply chain from farm to market.
To achieve these ambitious targets and to support the development of the overall investment plan for Páirc na Mara, an Advisory Committee was established in 2017. The Committee consists of a cross section of key stakeholders who discharge statutory responsibilities in the planning, regulatory and development fields as well as specialists from research and academic institutions who are committed to the sustainable development of the marine resource.
Objectives of Páirc Na Mara
Research & Development Centre
Facilitate & support research & innovation in the Marine Sector
Encourage more marine related start-up enterprises
Develop Skills and Expertise in the Sector
Accelerate the upscaling of existing SMEs through access to shared infrastructure and development supports
Attract foreign direct investment to the sector and the region
Create a Aquaculture
Consolidate a sustainable aquaculture industry in the area
Grow sustainable employment locally and in the region
Increase demand for goods and services locally
Include One More
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Páirc Na Mara’s alignment with Marine Industry Policy
The Government’s continued commitment to blue growth and implementation of Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth(HOOW) –Ireland’s Integrated Marine Plan is evident in Ireland where it pursues a pro-business economic policy by providing a dynamic source of start-up funding and support programmes.
Údarás na Gaeltachta has always recognised the importance of the marine resource to the creation of employment opportunities. We are committed to working collaboratively and helping to build the marine economy in Ireland. Údarás na Gaeltachta client companies have benefited from a longstanding, effective and productive co-operative relationship with Bord Iascaigh Mhara and the Marine Institute. Údarás has representatives on several national committees, including those of the current schemes operating under the European Maritime & Fisheries Fund.