Plenary III

Plenary III: The Role of Marine Science and Policy to Support Positive Outcomes for Ocean Health and Resilience

Ocean Health and Resilience
Date: Thursday, 8th June, 2023
Time: 9.00-10:45 am
Location: UCH

Keynote: A Personal Journey … Influencing Policy”.
Peter Heffernan, Ocean Ambassador & Member of the Board of the Oceano Azul Foundatio. Board Member EU Mission Board ‘Restore Our Ocean and Waters by 2030’.
Moderator: Karen Coleman, Journalist
Sigi Gruber, Active Senior Advisor for the European Commission
Craig N. McLean, Former Chief Scientist and Oceanic and Atmospheric Research Assistant Administrator,  NOAA
Carol Anne Clayson, Director for Research Strategy and Innovation Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)
Paul Connally, CEO Marine Institute Ireland

Challenges to meet the outcomes of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and the objectives of the European Union’s Mission to Restore our Ocean and Waters by 2030 are many. Key to supporting both frameworks are science diplomacy initiatives, advances in marine technology, digitalisation and the translation of marine science into successful policy advice.  This panel of experts shall provide real experience and provide examples to both students and experienced technical practitioners who want to know more about how their work influences policy priorities – with the overall goal to protect and restore ocean health and resilience for humanity.


Karen Coleman (moderator)
Award-winning Irish journalist and one of Ireland’s finest broadcasters

Karen Coleman is an award-winning broadcaster, journalist and documentary filmmaker from Ireland. She is the editor of EU News Radio (Ireland) which reports on EU stories from the European Commission, European Council and other EU Institutions for Irish radio stations.
Karen is also the founder and CEO of Irish company SkyeByte productions which makes multi-media content for online platforms and broadcasting outlets. A former BBC foreign correspondent, Karen has been covering European and international affairs for radio and television for many years. She has worked for both the public and commercial broadcast industries including a ten-year stint with the BBC. Karen presented the award-winning international affairs radio show The Wide Angle on Newstalk radio in Ireland for many years.Read More


Peter Heffernan
Ocean Ambassador & Member of the Board of the Oceano Azul Foundatio. Board Member EU Mission Board ‘Restore Our Ocean and Waters by 2030’.

Former Chief Executive of the Marine Institute, Ireland’s national agency for marine research and development, which he led from November 1993 to October 2019. He has spearheaded the organisation’s expansion from a staff of 1 to over 200 with a budget over €62 million. He has overseen the delivery of two custom built multi-purpose research vessels, the Celtic Voyager and the Celtic Explorer and the design and construction of the Marine Institute’s world class headquarters at Rinville, Oranmore, County Galway and the major modernisation of its research facility in Newport County Mayo. Following his PhD in the National University of Ireland, Galway, worked at the University of Georgia, in the U.S. (1985 – 92). Read More


Sigi Gruber
Active Senior Advisor European Commission

Since 1 January 2021 retired European Commission Official, currently still working as Active Senior Advisor for the European Commission. From 2014 until 2021, she was the Head of the Healthy Ocean and Seas Unit, in the Directorate General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission. The Unit defined, implemented and monitored Research and Innovation strategies to support the European Union’s marine and maritime related policies such as the Integrated Maritime Policy, its Blue Economy Agenda and the different Sea basin Strategies etc., thereby contributing to the sustainable and responsible management of marine resources, both in Europe and globally. Read More


Craig N. McLean
Former Chief Scientist and Oceanic and Atmospheric Research Assistant Administrator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Craig McLean is a retired ship captain from NOAA who served in multiple program roles including ocean exploration, ocean mapping, marine fisheries, marine sanctuaries, and law. After retirement from the service, he was appointed as deputy, then director of NOAA’s research line, in charge of climate, ocean, and weather research. He served for eleven years as the US head of delegation to the UN’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, five years as NOAA’s acting Chief Scientist, and was the US lead for the Galway Statement implementation of the North Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance, and the All-Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance. He retired from government service in 2022. He was recognized by President Biden at his retirement for his work in supporting scientific truth and integrity.

Carol Anne Clayson

Carol Anne Clayson
Director for Research Strategy and Innovation WHOI

Dr. Carol Anne Clayson is the Director for Research Strategy and Innovation and a Senior Scientist in the Department of Physical Oceanography at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).  Her current areas of research include understanding the air-sea boundary layers and impacts on weather, climate, and energy sectors and the development of satellite and in situ sensors to observe these processes.  She has served on numerous national and international science panels, including service as the co-chair of the Climate Panel for the recent NASA Decadal Survey for Earth Science and Applications from Space. She has served on the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate and has been a lead reviewer of the US Climate Change Science Programme products. Read More


Paul Connolly
CEO Marine Institute Ireland

Paul has a PhD from University College Dublin (1986), a Masters in Business Administration from National University Ireland Galway (2006) and completed the Timoney Advanced Leadership Programme in 2016. Paul was appointed CEO of the Marine Institute in October 2019 and previously was Director of Fisheries Ecosystems Advisory Services (FEAS) at the Institute.
He has considerable expertise in the provision of scientific advice to Government on a range of marine issues, including fisheries, aquaculture and climate mitigation. He has extensive experience in working with stakeholders and chaired the Minister’s Irish Fisheries Science Research Partnership (IFSRP) from 2008 to 2019. Read More

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