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Challenges and Opportunities for Ireland’s Major Ocean Economy Industries #PurposePoeplePlace

Against the backdrop of a deep COVID-19-related recession, with the rate of unemployment expected to remain at elevated levels over the near term, Ireland’s ocean economy industries offer prospects for new sources of growth, jobs, innovation and economic resilience.

Prof. Alan Ahearne and Dr. Stephen Hynes from the Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) at the Whitaker Institute have been awarded funding by the Marine Institute to examine major global economic developments that will most affect the performance of Ireland’s ocean economy industries in the near- and medium-term, including the COVID crisis.

This project provides updated figures on the value of Ireland's ocean economy in 2019 and examines the effects of the COVID emergency on Ireland’s major ocean economy industries. The research explores the case for increased public and private investment in ocean economy industries, with the COVID crisis posing both challenges and opportunities for Ireland’s ocean economy.

• What is the potential of offshore wind to help Ireland to meet its targets for domestic renewable energy supply and to build a productive energy export sector?

• With proper State support, can marine and coastal tourism be an engine for recovery in the broader tourism sector?

• How can policy aim to develop improved downstream supply chains at home for Irish seafood?

• Does marine aquaculture have potential for major expansion?

Prof. Ahearne and Dr. Hynes on 11 June presented preliminary findings from their research to the Inter-Departmental Marine Coordination Group (MCG) convened by the Department of the Taoiseach.

Prof. Alan Ahearne is Director of the Whitaker Institute and Professor of Economics and at the National University of Ireland, Galway. He is Chair of the Central Bank of Ireland's Risk Committee, having served as a member of the Central Bank Commission (that is, the Board of Directors) for nine years. He is Chairman of the Department of Finance and ESRI Joint Research Programme on the Macroeconomy, Taxation & Banking. He is also a member of the External Advisory Group to Ireland’s Parliamentary Budget Office. He has served as Adviser to the IMF and as a Research Fellow at Bruegel, the influential Brussels-based think tank. He holds an honorary appointment at the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia.

Stephen is a lecturer in the Discipline of Economics at NUI Galway. He is also the director of the Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit. He has a PhD in Environmental Economics from Stirling University, Scotland. He is currently the Principle Investigator on a number of large multi-disciplinary projects including the Marine Institute funded “Valuing and understanding the dynamics of Ireland’s Ocean Economy” and is lead partner on the EU INTERREG funded MOSES project. He is also a partner on the EU Horizon 2020 funded MERCES and ATLAS projects. Stephen has a strong background in applied environmental/natural resource economic research and extensive work experience in econometric modelling. He has previously worked as an environmental economist in the Rural Economy Research Centre, Teagasc. Stephen’s main research interest is in microeconomic behaviour analysis, related to marine/agriculture and rural development policy and his work has been published by a number of the top-ranked journals in the fields of marine, environmental and natural resource economics.

About the Whitaker Institute

The Whitaker Institute for Innovation and Societal Change is the major structure for supporting research in business and the social sciences at NUI Galway. Inspired by the themes that motivated T.K. Whitaker’s own life’s work as an economist and public servant, the Institute supports interdisciplinary, distinctive, and transformative research on challenges facing business, society and public policy in Ireland and internationally to achieve a prosperous, sustainable and inclusive society.

The Whitaker Institute supports rigorous, relevant and innovative research at NUI Galway in business and the social sciences with scientific, policy, practice and societal impacts.

The Institute’s research priorities are centred around three broad themes of national and international importance: Business, Innovation and Economic Development; Public Sector Innovation and Reform; and Sustainable and Inclusive Societies. These research themes are advanced by 16 multi-disciplinary research clusters, consisting of more than 320 members. While the Institute’s primary affiliation is with the College of Business, Public Policy and Law, the Institute also draws members from each of the other four colleges at NUI Galway.