Category: Archive

Irish urged to ‘think big’ with offshore study

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — A £21-million, seven-year-long study of the country’s huge offshore area is to begin later this year to establish the potential of its marine riches.

"We just don’t know enough about the riches and opportunities that are out there," Marine Minister Michael Woods said. "We are a small country in terms of land mass but a very big one in marine area. The time has come to think big."

Ireland has one of the largest offshore areas in Europe, covering 850,000 square kilometers. It represents 90 percent of the national territory and this will be by far the biggest and most comprehensive study of its potential.

A limited survey of a small area of the Atlantic seabed revealed 15 major canyons on the side of the Rockall Trough that were previously unknown.

Woods said the study was a "voyage of discovery into Ireland’s vast marine area."

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"Our offshore area has an extraordinary variety of topographical features including deep valleys and canyons, impressive volcanoes and extensive deep ocean plains."

The minister said it would be pinpointing millions of pounds worth of resources including fisheries, base metals, oil and gas and fisheries.

"Ireland is the only EU country without a territory-wide seabed mapping program and is one of those with most to gain," he said.

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