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Blue Growth and Marine Spatial Planning

The Blue Growth & Marine Spatial Planning Scheme is established under Union Priority 6 (Integrated Maritime Policy) of Ireland’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) Operational Programme. It is co-funded by the Irish Government and the EU.

Operation 1 of the Scheme is providing technical and scientific support for the development of a Marine Spatial Plan for Ireland.  


The objective of the Scheme is to address a number of needs identified under Ireland’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Operational Programme. These include:

  • Improving data and knowledge generation, management and sharing; including the development of new products and services (e.g. Ireland Marine Atlas and delivery to EMODNET), in support of a range of policies and directives such as Common Fisheries Policy, Natura, Marine Strategy Framework Directive and Maritime Spatial Planning.
  • Collecting, collating and mapping accurate, up-to-date spatial and temporal information on marine ecosystems and human activities taking place within Ireland’s maritime domain to support marine spatial planning.
  • Developing strong marine spatial data analysis, modelling and decision support capabilities.
  • Developing integrated/coordinated marine and coastal planning and licensing in order to sustainably maximise the potential for Ireland’s ocean economy.
  • Better understanding the implication of climate change on ecosystem goods and services and human activities through monitoring and modelling.
  • Delivering social and economic development objectives, consistent with our environmental obligations and Ireland’s Integrated Marine Plan – Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth.

All Projects

Currently data required for programmes such as MSP, MSFD and DCF are held by a number of organisations and in a range of formats. The development of data integration best practice for Ireland’s marine data will provide guidance as to how data from multiple sources (including across internal organisational boundaries) can be combined together for analysis and reuse. The publication of these best practices will also facilitate the connection of new nodes to the Institute’s data services platform, furthering the integration and reuse of marine data within Ireland.

Lead Partner: Compass Informatics

Currently the availability of data required for programmes such as MSP and MSFD is limited, in part due to technical differences or limitations across organisational boundaries. The deployment of consistent data services interfaces will greatly facilitate access and integration of data held by different groups both within and external to the Marine Institute.

Lead Partner: Compass Informatics

Horizon scanning and foresight activities provide important evidence and data to support strategic decision making. This includes stocktaking of national, EU and international current and future policies, regulations, and initiatives with potential relevance to Ireland’s blue economy. A number of marine foresight initiatives have been carried out at EU and international level, however these need to reviewed in the context of Ireland’s blue economy and the advancement of IMP in Ireland.

Lead Partner: ABPMer

This project explored and developed the evidence on climate change implications for MSP. A review of existing MSP was carried out to summarise best practice approaches for incorporating climate change in marine spatial plans.

Lead Partner: ABPMer

The aim of this project is to ensure reliable data storage and management systems. This will provide assurance of the availability and versioning of data. Improved data archiving will support legislative compliance and reduce costs by only retaining data which are required.

The aim of this project is to develop an integrated national sediment sampling and seabed imagery catalogue. It will provide a ‘signpost’ to the multiple sources of seabed data. The integration of this information will be vital to support the National marine planning process, in terms of habitat mapping, climate change assessment, resource assessment (e.g. aggregates) and invasive species incidence.

Lead Partner: Marine Institute

This project was a desktop study that will relied on existing sources of information and extensive surveying of both harvesters/growers and businesses or organisations within the seaweed sector. Through a comprehensive survey of the key stakeholders, data and information was collated to map and value the seaweed supply chain, create an industry wide directory, develop best practice recommendations for seaweed resource management and reporting, and prepare the required final report and summary fact sheet and presentation.

The requirement for an enhanced ocean biogeochemistry ECV observing capacity has been well flagged (EPA Climate Status 2020; MI Ocean climate and Ecosystem Status Report; MI ECV report). Observations contribute to development of ocean climate and ocean acidification indicators, global and regional carbon budgets, and underpin computer models as key decision tools for marine management.

Lead Partner: Marine Institute