Putting A Number On Ireland’s Marine Economy

07 Jul 2017 | 09.36 am

Putting A Number On Ireland’s Marine Economy

It's big when Gross Value Added is included

07 Jul 2017 | 09.36 am

The marine economy is outperforming the rest of the economy, says a report from the Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit at NUI Galway, with shipping and maritime transport playing a key role in driving growth.

The direct economic value of Ireland’s marine economy in 2016 was €1.8 billion, an increase of 20% on 2014, and the sector employs more than 30,000 full-time equivalent individuals (FTEs). The indirect gross value coming from ocean-related activity in Ireland in 2016 amounts to a €1.57 billion, with estimated Gross Value Added (GVA) of €3.37 billion, which represents 1.7% of GDP, according to the report’s authors, Amaya Vega and Stephen Hynes.

Pointing out that trends in the Irish economy are inevitably reflected in the ocean economy, the report states: “While growth in Irish GDP from 2012 to 2014 was approximately 8%, the ocean economy grew by over 19% in the same period. Estimates suggest that GVA growth rates in Ireland’s ocean economy for the 2014-2016 period are approximately 20%, which is again above the recently released growth trends from the CSO that show an increase of 9% in Ireland’s GDP for the same period.”

Of the established marine industries, the shipping and transport sector was the largest contributor in terms of turnover in 2016 and is responsible for the employment of 4,666 people, an increase of 6.7% since 2014. Sea-based transport accounted for 85% of the total volume and 56% of the total value of goods traded in Ireland in 2016.

Irish Maritime Development Office director Liam Lacey (pictured) commented: “Ireland has very ambitious targets set out in the government’s integrated marine plan, Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth, which aims to increase the value of Ireland’s marine economy to 2.4% of GDP by 2030.

“The SEMRU report shows that we are well on course to achieve this, with our shipping and maritime transport sector contributing enormously to the growth and potential of our marine economy. As an island nation, we are heavily dependent on sea-based transport to link Ireland to world markets and I am delighted to see further positive indicators of the potential of this sector to contribute to wider economic growth in Ireland, and also its resilience in what was a very challenging year for business.”

IMDO represents the the shipping and shipping services sector. According to the IMDO, total port traffic increased by 2% in 2016, its highest level since 2007.

Positive Outlook

Despite the optimistic trends shown by the SEMRU report, the authors foresee challenges. “While the Irish ocean economy has seen significant growth in recent years and the outlook for further growth in the short-term remains positive, there are a number of challenges the sector must face. A key one is the potential impact of Brexit, but others include the potential impact of implementation of the discard ban on Irish fishing and the impact of a weaker sterling exchange rate on tourism in Ireland’s marine and coastal areas.”

As well as the shipping industry, the SEMRU calculation of marine sector economic value embraces tourism and leisure in marine and coastal areas, international cruise, sea fisheries, marine aquaculture, seafood processing, oil and gas exploration and production, marine manufacturing, construction and engineering and marine retail services.

The report also includes data on ’emerging industries’, meaning those that are still at a relatively early stage of development or growth, and are primarily R&D intensive or use the latest technology, including advanced marine technology products and services, marine commerce, marine biotechnology and bio-products, and marine renewable energy.

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