Saturday 23 June 2018

Galway Statement celebrates five years as fight against ocean plastics intensifies

Kyle Ewald

This week marks the five year anniversary since the Galway Statement--a formal alliance between the European Union, United States and Canada-- was signed in an effort to build on and improve research and deepen knowledge of the Atlantic Ocean.

Speaking to Independent.ie, Dr Margaret Rae said the need for such an alliance came following “a realisation if we want to tackle great changes, we need to look to our neighbours and unite forces and share our resources to tackle research questions.

“The state of our oceans has a massive knock-off effect on the weather and environment, so it is imperative we understand them.”

Since its creation, over 500 research teams have contributed to AORA’s cause, and Dr Rae said the alliance aims to hit 1,000 teams by 2020.

AORA initiatives include creating a plastic free ocean, providing communities with advanced weather warnings, more detailed mapping of the ocean floor and learning how to sustainably manage the Atlantic’s resources so future generations can benefit from the ocean as well.

“Terrestrial land is getting maxed out and at the end of the day we need to look to our oceans to sustain us,” said Dr Rae.

“One of the things that amazes me is that we’ve sent so many people to space and only three people have been to the deepest part of oceans.”

“It’s just shocking, we have better maps of the moon than we do of the oceans on our own planet.”

Dr Rae said the best aspect of the collaboration is the massive bank of data that has been made available to researchers of the involved countries.

She said: “There have been collaborations in the past, but nothing to this degree. I mean, just the accessibility to all the data, tools and resources from other countries gives us access to so many more research opportunities which lead to opportunities for change.”

“It’s all very inspiring seeing all the research and opportunities that are available when you work your neighbours. It’s no longer the next generation’s problem because we have the tools and abilities to conduct the research now and really understand Earth’s second largest ocean.”

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