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The Irish Sea Centre: a new organisation at the heart of the Irish Sea ecosystem

The Irish Sea, with its surrounding coastal lands and river basins, islands and islets, is a semi-enclosed marine ecosystem, connected to the wider Celtic Seas and the North Atlantic.

The Irish Sea ecosystem provides vital ecological goods and services to many sectors, including: energy; fisheries; nature conservation; recreation and sport; shipping; tourism; and waste processing.  

All beneficiaries of the Irish Sea ecosystem have a common interest to work together, with everyone recognising the ecosystem as a whole and understanding their impacts upon it. 

This presents a huge challenge after long histories of limited collaboration among sectors and across boundaries and limited awareness of what the whole Irish Sea ecosystem is and how it functions. 

Nevertheless, the modest scale of the Irish Sea ecosystem and the prospects for greater sharing of knowledge and expertise for its sustainable use and conservation bode well for pioneering here an all sectors/whole ecosystem approach. Success would benefit present and future users of the Irish Sea ecosystem and provide methods for application in other marine ecosystems. 

The Irish Sea Centre (ISC) Limited was conceived as a new organisation to pursue these goals, located on the Isle of Man at the heart of the Irish Sea ecosystem.

The ISC was incorporated in July 2018, as a Company Limited by Guarantee (charity number 1257), working for the public good.

The ISC founders and many of its supporters and workers are former staff and students of the Port Erin Marine Laboratory, which closed in 2006 after more than 100 years of collaboration in marine science around the Irish Sea and around the world.

The ISC will build on that history and contribute to filling that gap, becoming a hub for information gathering and exchange, partnerships and networking, public awareness, research, catalysing and supporting innovation and hosting meetings, teams and scholars

The ISC is establishing linkages and collaborative activities with others working for sustainable use and conservation of the Irish Sea ecosystem, notably the Irish Sea Maritime Forum (ISMF).

In October 2018, the Isle of Man Government’s Department for Enterprise hosted the first meeting between the ISC and members of the ISMF’s Steering Group, drawn from all Irish Sea jurisdictions, together with representatives from the Island’s Department for Environment, Food and Agriculture, the Irish Sea Rim, the Manx Wildlife Trust, UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man and University College Isle of Man.

The ISC and ISMF agreed to develop collaborative activities, including holding the 2021 ISMF biennial conference on the Isle of Man. 

The ISC is about to launch its initial planning phase, which will produce a business plan for the evolution of ISC activities, partnerships and linkages and options for the development of ISC facilities.

A proposal soliciting financial support for the ISC’s planning phase is available on request from potential donors. The ISC is assembling a core team of experts and wider network of associates and is seeking partners and support for short-term project-based and longer-term activities that will contribute to an all sectors/whole ecosystem approach for the sustainable use and conservation of the Irish Sea ecosystem.

In 2019, ISC representatives will be visiting potential partners around the Irish Sea and will participate in international meetings, including the 2019 Irish Sea Maritime Forum 2019 and Coastal Futures 2019. 

The ISC will hold its first public event, 'The Irish Sea Centre at the Centre of the Irish Sea: An Evening of Illustrated Talks and Discussions' at the Manx Museum, Douglas, at 7.30pm on February 21, with support from the Island’s 2018 Year of Our Island project.

Admission is free and all are welcome.Pending development of the ISC website, www.irishseacentre.org and social media pages, further information on the ISC and its activities, plans and financial needs, can be sought from Dr Roger Pullin, Secretary, The Irish Sea Centre Ltd. Email: pullin.roger@gmail.com

 

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