Ministerial visit to Celtic Explorer

John Browne, TD, Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, and 75 local primary school children from Our Lady’s Island National School, Rosslare and Gael Scoil Inish Carthaidh, visited the RV Celtic Explorer during a port call today (27/04/07) in Rosslare. Speaking onboard the RV Celtic Explorer, the Minister stressed the need for accurate information on Ireland’s largest natural resource and the added value that such information could bring to planning, navigation, and sustainable resource management.

Celtic Explorer in Galway“The Irish National Seabed Survey has already proved to be a major success story in terms of mapping our deepwater territories,” he said. “From deep and remote areas of the ocean, which in previous years were as little understood as the face of the moon, we have already extracted a vast library of detailed three-dimensional images which are the envy of other nations. In turning our attention into the inshore areas, we are shedding light on the most productive and economically valuable areas of our seas – those closest to the land. It is here that Ireland stands to reap the rewards of prudent resource management across a wide spectrum of areas including shipping, coastal engineering, coastal zone management and engineering, renewable energy, cable/pipeline laying, marine leisure, fisheries and aquaculture. This detailed survey of our inshore areas will also allow Ireland to meet her legal obligations regarding provision of safe navigation charts in areas which, until recently, relied on British Admiralty surveys dating back to the days of Captain William Bligh.”

Dublin Bay sand wavesINFOMAR will initially focus on 26 priority bays and three priority areas around the coast delivering: hydrographic maps, illustrating everything from sandbars to underwater canyons and cliffs; seabed classification maps showing the type of sediment on the seabed, for example sand and gravel deposits which could provide potentially valuable marine aggregates to supply the construction industry; and habitat maps showing areas which provide homes to a wide range of marine flora and fauna. These integrated maps will allow us to plan for sustainable development of Ireland’s 220 million acres underwater and protect biologically sensitive areas and resources.

INFOMAR provides key baseline data to support coastal and inshore development. The data collected can be used to input into tidal models and carrying capacity models which can be used for example by the aquaculture industry.

The programme aims to make the vast amount of data collected available to as wide an audience as possible with plans underway to make the database accessible via the internet. Making this information available to the world aims to stimulate research and development of Ireland’s 220 million acres under the sea. The data will be of interest to fisheries managers, aquaculture operators, coastal zone managers and engineers, offshore engineering interests, licensing authorities and those carrying out environmental impact assessments. Indeed this unique dataset is of interest in its own right because of the sheer volume of data collected.

The surveys are carried using a range of platforms, including the Marine Institute’s RV Celtic Explorer and RV Celtic Voyager, inshore launches and Airborne LIDAR*.

INFOMAR is managed jointly by the Geological Survey of Ireland and the Marine Institute and is overseen by the INFOMAR Programme Board chaired by the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources.