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Ireland's Blue Edge

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

Last week was Bioeconomy Ireland Week and on Friday I attended a Blue Economy event hosted by the Marine Ireland Industry Network & BlueWise Marine at the Rose Hotel in Tralee.

I’ve heard lots about the green economy, but the blue economy is new to me. I was curious about it and wanted to know more.

Put simply the blue economy refers to the range of economic uses of ocean and coastal resources — such as energy, shipping, fisheries, aquaculture, mining, and tourism. It also includes economic benefits that may not be marketed, such as carbon storage, coastal protection, cultural values and biodiversity.

Turns out that the blue bioeconomy has lots of synergy for Ireland and for Kerry in particular. The event shared stories of how local and regional businesses have transformed age old traditions to become significant players in this industry.

Sharon Sugure from Realt na Mara in Cromane shared the story of her family business, who are now the fourth generation of fishermen to continue the legacy, making the supply of purified Irish mussels and oysters an important part of the aquaculture industry in Ireland and beyond.

L-R: Micheál Sugrue, Sharon Sugrue & Emmet Casey.

Photo Credit: Réalt na Mara Shellfish

Kieran Guinan from Bio Atlantis emphasised the requirement for a national policy on seaweed harvesting in Ireland.

Susan Whelan from the Irish Seaweed Consultancy talked about the services they can provide. One of their research projects they recently worked on was the cultivation of Palmaria palmata (dulse) for protein products effective in Type 2 Diabetes management.

Photo Credit: Irish Seaweed Consultancy

And Henry Lyons from Nutramara spoke about how they, as marine molecule specialists, design clean, sustainable, healthy consumer products with numerous applications, from luxury skincare (Seabody) to hair care (Sea Theory) & pet nutrition (Blue Pet).

And my 3 key take aways?

1. Ireland’s Blue Economy, with more than 480,000 km2 of maritime coastline, is the country’s largest natural asset. To put this in perspective: Ireland, inclusive of its marine territory, is one of the largest countries in Europe, bigger than Germany.

2. Seaweed ecosystems play a crucial role in the marine carbon cycle. Seaweed acts as a net sequestrator of CO2 worldwide, potentially matching levels of sequestration from tidal marshes, mangroves, and seagrass ecosystems combined. In the Republic of Ireland, the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine is responsible for issuing aquaculture licenses for the cultivation of seaweed. It also processes the application for the accompanying foreshore license1.However, there are severe delays in processing these applications, and some can take 5-10 years.

3. The Bio Bus is touring the country and is part of a national campaign being coordinated by Biorbic, to raise awareness of Ireland’s bioeconomy. This exhibit will let you explore a standard Irish household and discover just how many day to day products we rely on that have crude oil components. Check here to see when the Bio Bus is visiting your area.



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