Thomas Furey & Sean Cullen
Joint INFOMAR Programme Managers
INFOMAR is the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment funded national seabed mapping programme, jointly managed and delivered by Geological Survey Ireland and Marine Institute. The programme aims to provide comprehensive and accessible marine datasets for Irish waters that underpin and add value to marine research, national and European reporting obligations, and inform government policy. INFOMAR products continue to foster growth within the national blue economy, to communicate the health and integrity of the natural marine environment, and to facilitate international collaboration and best practice in securing sustainable development of Ireland's marine resource.
Our 2019 annual survey plans were based, as always, on consideration of logistical and operational issues and guided by rigorous stakeholder consultation, including INFOMAR and Geoscience Ireland seminars, workshops, and feedback from the Programme Board, Technical Advisory Committee, and project team. Using these criteria we targeted Irelands’ seabed in busy coastal waters and on the continental shelf. The offshore team completed five separate surveys on the continental shelf and identified prominent ridges of up to 30 km in amplitude. Closer to home, inshore operations were focused on Ireland’s south coast and vessels operated from Baltimore, Youghal and Kinsale as conditions and strategy required. A combined total of 8504 sq km of seabed were mapped. A new Data Management Steering Group oversaw significant improvements to Data Delivery & Analytics, Data management, Data Security and an overall upgrade to our online viewers with multiple applications being upgraded to improved data access. In addition, a further 20 survey legs were processed and INFOMAR handled 51 Data Requests. The Value-Added team continued to expand and develop international research and development collaborations, both directly through project participation, and indirectly through networking Irish academia and companies with international consortia and opportunities. INFOMAR contributed to 30 R&D collaborations, provided meaningful data to 3 Irish Small Medium Enterprises and 7 capacity build projects. In addition, we attended 26 outreach events and contributed to 15 publications.