Ireland is Riding the Ocean Economy Wave According to New Research from NUI Galway

Jun 28 2018 Posted: 10:09 IST

NUI Galway has published its latest figures on Ireland’s Ocean Economy that shows in 2017 the direct economic value of the ocean economy was €1.97 billion representing a 22% increase on 2015

NUI Galway’s Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) has released its latest update on Ireland’s Ocean Economy as part of their ongoing process of collection and analysis of marine socio-economic data in Ireland. This work has involved revising the previous 2015 estimates with the latest released data for that year from the Central Statistics Office, fisheries and aquaculture data from Bord Iascaigh Mhara, shipping and cruise information from the Irish Maritime Development Office as well as SEMRU’s own survey data with 2017 estimates.

The updated figures indicate that in 2017, the direct economic value of Ireland’s ocean economy was an estimated €1.97 billion or approximately 1% of gross domestic product (GDP), which represents a 21% increase on 2015 figures. The 2017 estimates also suggest that our ‘blue economy’ continues to grow at a faster pace than the general economy.

Dr Stephen Hynes, Director of SEMRU from the Whitaker Institute for Innovation and Societal Change at NUI Galway, says: “The latest figures indicate that Ireland’s ocean economy continues to see substantial growth across both established and emerging marine industries. While 2016 saw a large increase in activity in the oil and gas industry on the back of the Corrib gas project coming on line, more recent growth in 2017 is being driven by strong performances in the aquaculture, sea fisheries, shipping and marine tourism industries, as well as continued growth in the emerging ocean industries.”

Summary for 2017

  • The ocean economy had a turnover of €5.49 billion in 2017.
  • The indirect economic value in 2017 amounted to €1.75 billion, with a total direct and indirect gross value added (GVA) value of €3.71 billion, which represents 1.85% of GDP.
  • The ocean economy provided employment to over 32,500 individuals, full-time equivalents in 2017. 
  • Established Marine Industries had a turnover of €5.1 billion and provided employment to 30,000 full-time equivalents in 2017, representing 92% of the total turnover and 93% of total employment in Ireland’s ocean economy in 2017. Oil and gas exploration and production, marine aquaculture and tourism and leisure in marine and coastal areas, all experienced a significant increase in activity, with turnover, GVA and employment increasing across the sector in the 2015-2017 period. In line with an estimated increase in tourism activity generally in Ireland it is assumed that the tourism in marine and coastal areas increased by 6.7%. The shipping and maritime transport sector also exhibited increases, as seen by the 6% increase year on year in the Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO)’s i-ship index in 2017. The i-ship index is used by the IMDO to gauge the health of the Irish maritime industry.
  • Emerging Marine Industries had a turnover of €398 million and provided employment to over 2,000 full-time equivalents representing 8% of the turnover and 7% of employment in Ireland’s ocean economy in 2017. The emerging industries include advanced marine technology products and services, maritime commerce, marine biotechnology and bioproducts and marine renewable energy.

Commenting on the latest figures, Professor Alan Ahearne, Director of the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway, said: “It’s clear from this latest evidence that the Ocean Economy has made a significant contribution to Ireland’s overall economic recovery. Marine industries have delivered new jobs and extra income to every corner of the country. With our vast ocean resources, technological knowledge and innovation talent, there is huge potential for further sustainable growth in Ireland’s Blue Economy.”

Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth – An Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland, published in July 2012, outlines a number of specific targets which seek to expand Ireland’s ocean economy. One of those targets aims to double its value to 2.4% of GDP by 2030. This 2.4% figure was based on a total estimate (both direct and indirect Gross Value Added) in 2007 for the Irish Ocean economy that amounted to 1.2% of GDP at that time. The latest marine industry statistics from SEMRU indicate that the total direct and indirect value of the Irish ocean economy is €3.71 billion which represents 1.85% of GDP in 2017.

For more information on the latest figures please visit:

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