The Marine Institute in Galway was today the setting for the signing of an agreement between the EU, the US and Canada to pave the way for collaborative scientific and observational research into the Atlantic Ocean.
The agreement, called the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation, was signed at the Marine Institute on the second day of a conference on the Atlantic as a shared resource.
The new alliance will see the EU, the US and Canada team up for ocean observation and research.
The two main goals are to better understand the Atlantic Ocean and how to manage its resources in a sustainable way. Another research stream will be to study the interplay of the Atlantic Ocean with the Arctic Ocean, particularly with regard to climate change.
The move comes after the European Commission launched an action plan for a maritime strategy in the Atlantic area earlier this month.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny attended today’s signing along with EU Commissioners, representatives from the US and Canada, as well as other smaller Atlantic coastal states.
Speaking at the Maritime Institute, the European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, said the economic potential of the Atlantic remains largely untapped.
"We probably know more about the surface of the moon and Mars than we do about the deep sea floor. This alliance can make a big contribution to meeting challenges such as climate change and food security," she said.
The agreement will seek to co-ordinate research into the Atlantic on a transatlantic basis. Areas that have the scope for co-operation include ocean observation, the sharing of data on ocean temperature, salinity and acidity, seabed mapping and the sustainable management of ocean resources.
European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki said the alliance will build on the Atlantic action plan. And while the initiative will be of particular interest to five EU member states that have Atlantic shorelines – Ireland, France, Portugal, Spain and the UK – Damanaki said it will be open to researchers from all over Europe and beyond.
"The knowledge gained will be of benefit to all," she said.
Atlantic Ocean image via Shutterstock