Keynote speakers at Our Ocean Wealth 2019 conference ( Ireland, June 10) led by former US Secretary of State and environmental activist, John Kerry, will discuss climate change and outline actions required to sustainably and effectively manage our oceans.

The summit brings together engineering, technology, energy and food sectors and provides “enormous opportunities for collaboration and innovation business. The health of our oceans is critical to the health of our planet,” remarked Dr Peter Heffernan, Marine Institute chief executive.

Almost 75% of the earth’s surface is covered by the oceans which absorb 30% of the carbon dioxide produced by human activity. Plastics are affecting over 700 species – from plankton to whales.

“Climate change is impacting the world’s oceans in terms of acidity and global warming. We must act as a collective”

Tackling these global challenges present many opportunities for innovative developments in a circular blue economy.

“Along with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Marine Institute is working with small island nations to prioritise our oceans’ health and that will be the  focus of the Our Ocean Wealth Summit 2019 in Cork,” Dr Heffernan added.

Over 30 worldwide heads-of-state and ministers, UN representatives and ambassadors worldwide will join 750 national and international delegates to discuss the challenges faced by island nations, and identify ways they can work together to address threats, manage ocean resources and build sustainable economies.

OOW 2019 is an output of Harnessing our Ocean Wealth, the integrated plan for Ireland’s marine sector which aims to double the value of the marine economy’s contribution to GDP by 2030.

An estimated 100,000 visitors are expected to visit the Port of Cork for a two-day maritime festival (June 7-9). Seafest will celebrate the importance of the seas and oceans through a programme of over 100 free family events.

Ocean Wealth Facts: (Ref: Marine Institute)

  • 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by the ocean
  • 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year, equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute
  • the ocean is responsible for the water cycle, which affects our weather
  • the ocean absorbs 30% of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity
  • the real map of Ireland has a seabed territory ten times the size of its land area
  • the ocean is the support system of our planet
  • over half of the oxygen we breathe is produced in the ocean
  • the global market for seaweed is valued at approximately €5.4 billion
  • coral reefs are among the oldest ecosystems in the world — at 230 million years
  • 1.9 million people live within 5km of the coast in Ireland
  • Ocean waters hold nearly 20 million tons of gold. If we could mine all of the gold from the ocean, we would have enough to give every person on earth 9lbs of the precious metal!
  • aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world – Ireland is ranked 7th largest aquaculture producer in the EU
  • the Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean in the world, covering 20% of the earth’s surface. Out of all the oceans, the Atlantic Ocean is the saltiest
  • the Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world. It’s bigger than all the continents put together
  • Ireland is surrounded by some of the most productive fishing grounds in Europe.  Irish commercial fish landings are worth around €200m annually
  • 97% of the earth’s water is in the ocean
  • the ocean provides the greatest amount of the world’s protein consumed by humans
  • plastic affects 700 species in the oceans from plankton to whales.
  • only 10% of the oceans have been explored
  • 12 humans have walked on the moon but only 3 humans have been to the deepest part of the ocean.