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PML contributes to UK ‘Future of Ocean Technology’ inquiry report

24 January 2024

Policy-makers and stakeholders attended a recent launch event and roundtable discussion in Parliament.
PML's ocean technology Following a call for evidence in summer 2023, the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Ocean has published the inquiry report “The Ocean: Inquiry into the Future of Ocean Technology” which highlights “the huge, potential that ocean technology can bring to UK marine science, discusses the current challenges in developing and scaling ocean technology, and provides key recommendations to Government focused on improving data, international collaboration, leadership and funding”.

Scientists and Technologists from Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) and PML Applications were among the expert contributors to the inquiry and their advice and recommendations featured throughout the report.

The report itself lists a number of key findings:
  • we are currently undergoing a revolution in ocean technology, or at the very least, we are on the precipice of significant change. However, several barriers exist which are continuing to impact efficiency, uptake and progress. If not addressed correctly, these barriers will certainly impact the success and future of ocean technology.
  • Previous attempts to regulate and drive investment in this space have been disjointed and lacking in ministerial direction, with the majority of marine science bodies and groups being disbanded and dissolved.
  • There have been rapid technological advancements made in the ocean technology space, both in the UK and globally. From satellite technology to underwater vehicles, to buoys and gliders, growing investment in tidal and wind technology, powerful data sharing and blue carbon ecosystems such as mangroves, tidal marshes and seagrass habitats, technology is allowing us to build a fuller picture of the day-to-day workings of the ocean.
  • There are several key challenges which are limiting the development and potential of ocean technologies from being fully realised. The most pressing and significant challenges relate to the limits on research, data and the use of current technology, lack of grants and sustainable funding, the need for improved international collaboration, a worsening skills shortage and lack of government attention.
  • There is a clear role for the UK Government to play in driving technological innovation in the ocean space, by ensuring greater and long-term investment in ocean technology, tackling the widening funding gap and skills shortage and by supporting the sector and businesses in building international partnerships.
Above: Our Head of Digital Innovation and Marine Autonomy Professor Matthew Palmer with the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Ocean.

To mark the release of the report the APPG held a roundtable in Parliament in January, bringing together parliamentarians and stakeholders to discuss the recommendations of the report, the innovative and modern approaches to sustainable ocean technology and how government and industry can work collaboratively to ensure that the UK ocean technology sector can continue to flourish.

The roundtable was chaired by the Chair of the APPG, Sally-Ann Hart MP and included APPG members from across Westminster and the Lords who joined representatives from PML, the National Oceanography Centre, Blue Marine Foundation, UK Marine Energy Council, British Antarctic Survey, Planetary Technologies and the Society of Maritime Industries.
PML’s Digital Lead & Head of Science for Digital Innovation & Marine Autonomy Prof. Matthew Palmer said:
“Technology and innovation has a vital role to play in ensuring a sustainable future for the Ocean. We can only manage what we can measure and understand, so future ocean technologies must probe further and deeper than traditional technologies have allowed. The current technology revolution therefore presents our best opportunity yet to address our biggest challenges, such as those presented under the impacts of climate change; the biodiversity crisis; and energy and food security concerns. Advances however are dependent on strategic investment in people, skills and training to ensure the UK can contribute and compete in this rapidly changing technology landscape.”
PML Applications’ Head of the Centre for Coastal Technologies Tim Fileman said:
“Areas such as marine autonomy, advanced sensors, and the application of AI are rapidly evolving and becoming increasingly important across a range of sectors ranging from science to shipping, fisheries to defence. Furthermore, recent years have seen significant innovation and increased investment in ocean-based carbon dioxide removal (oCDR) and the associated regulation, verification and technological processes. There is huge potential within all of these areas but their development must be underpinned with rigorous data and scientific understanding.”
You can read the Future of Ocean Technology Inquiry Report in full here >>

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