Integrated Mapping for the Sustainable Development of Ireland’s Marine Resource (INFOMAR) is a project with the aim to map Ireland’s most productive and commercially valuable inshore waters. Covering some 125,000 square kilometres of underwater territory, INFOMAR will produce integrated mapping products covering the physical, chemical and biological features of the seabed.
Questions this practice may help answer:
What marine data is available throughout Ireland?
INFOMAR is the follow up project to the original seabed survey which maps the deep water off Ireland’s coast.
Aspects / Objectives:
The INtegrated Mapping FOr the Sustainable Development of Ireland's Marine Resource (INFOMAR) programme is a joint venture between the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) and the Marine Institute (MI). It concentrates on creating a range of integrated mapping products of the physical, chemical and biological features of the seabed in the near-shore area.
The project is scheduled to run until 2026 with the main objective to map the entire coast of Ireland. The first phase was completed in 2015 and the second phase begun in 2016. While the main goal is to measure water depths, the INFOMAR team also performs geophysical work and conducts sampling. The project thus represents a combination of mapping the bathymetry of Irish waters and geophysics of the seabed.
The survey team works all along the coast, including cross-border areas. Every survey begins with an initial team meeting where all aspects of the potential survey location are discussed. Among the questions reviewed are: whether a special area of conservation needs special licensing, what wind direction and weather patterns it is exposed to, what areas are safe to map based on the information derived from existing charts, as well as what safe harbours the vessels could stay in overnight. Teams are then sent to set up the onshore infrastructure that takes the form of GPS control stations (set up on the pier walls). These stations collect important data on the seabed survey itself that is necessary for the creation of an accurate map.
Following these stages, the research vessels themselves must be mobilized. This takes place outside the survey season: all equipment is installed on the vessels, and quality controls are implemented before usage. The vessels are then moved to the survey area along the Irish coast. Once the vessels are on site, set up and calibrated, and infrastructure is installed onshore, the survey can begin. This step can take any amount of time, depending on the size of the area. On average, most INFOMAR surveys are conducted in 3-4 weeks. While carrying out the survey, great care has to be taken in data management. This step is followed by data processing, when data is closely examined for errors and spikes by skilled operators of processing software and prepared for final delivery. For each day of survey activity there might be five to ten days of processing activity, depending on the complexity of the seabed. The next and final step is the creation of products that are made freely available to the public and uploaded to the internet.
With its work, INFOMAR is contributing to European Marine Spatial Planning and the Pan-European Marine mapping initiative, all data are licensed worldwide and made freely available for public use.
Main Outputs / Results:
With the first ten year phase (2006-2016) now complete, they began to see how this knowledge has the potential to offer incredible benefits for Ireland.
The programme delivers a wide range of benefits to multi-sectoral end-users across the national blue economy, with an emphasis on enabling our stakeholders. Demonstrated applications for the use of INFOMAR's suite of mapping products include:
- Shipping & Navigation
- Renewable Energy
- Fisheries Management
- Marine Leisure & Tourism
- Oil & Gas Exploration
- Infrastructure Development
- Environmental Monitoring
- Coastal Behaviour
These products will foster growth within the national blue economy and maintain the health and integrity of the Irish natural marine environment while facilitating international collaboration and best practice in the sustainable development of Ireland's marine resource.
The INFOMAR programme is widely recognised and respected around the world. A report about INFOMAR phase 1 post-project evaluation is available here.
Although INFOMAR only concerns the Irish sea area, the model and method could potentially be applicable in other regions, where data is available.
Geological Survey Ireland and the Marine Institute
Costs / Funding Source:
INFOMAR is funded by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE) of the Government of Ireland.
Marine Institute, Rinville,
Oranmore, Galway H91 R673.
Ph: 091 38 7200.
Geological Survey Ireland,
Beggars Bush, Dublin D04 K7X4.
Ph: 01 678 2896.