Thursday 20 June 2019

Event explores connections between human health and the oceans

Irish Doctors for Environment linked up with SOPHIE (Seas, Oceans and Public Health in Europe) EU 2020 in the Model, Sligo in recent weeks to explore the opportunities, benefits and risks that the ocean holds.

The event also explored how marine tourism, health and citizen science can engage to improve ocean human health for the benefit of the Irish public.

SOPHIE EU 2020 is an EU funded project, which is spearheaded by University of Exeter in the UK.

Dr Easkey Britton from NUI Galway opened up the first Ocean Human Health workshop in the Model, Sligo on May 26th where she spoke of the research activities and preliminary results and findings from these projects which will feed back into a final Strategic Research Agenda for the EU.

One of the most interesting findings discussed by Easkey Britton from the work within SOPHIE project is the complexity the sea brings out through the qualitative data collected so far from surveys across Europe. Words such as "fear" juxtaposing with "happiness" and "belonging", while other words such as "loss" contrast with "love". Often the 'story' and tales of 'personal connection' to the sea can carry an equally high impact on protection of coastal communities and creating healthier environments.

Derek Parle, chartered physiotherapist, spoke about the community spirit which is leading the exciting new development of the Surf Centre in Strandhill, along with the interpretive element which will showcase the history of surfing in the centre. He attributed the passion and opportunities for families to access waves along the west coast of Ireland through Surf Sundays, along with our duty as "elders" of the sea to grant others the opportunity to experience the delights of surfing and paddling out in the waves.

For those of you who are interested in further information, please visit - for further information on SOPHIE project, and Irish Doctors for Environment website for monthly newsletters and resources on the links between the environment and healthcare.

Sligo Champion