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Government Ministers Make Final Marine Protected Areas Public Consultation Appeal

26th July 2021
Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien
Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien Credit: Fianna Fail

Two Government ministers have called on people to give their views on the expansion of Ireland’s marine protected areas (MPAs) before the deadline at the end of this week.

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien and Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan issued the appeal with five days to go to close of submissions this Friday, July 30th.

MPAs are geographically defined maritime areas with certain protections for conservation purposes. The Government aims to expand Ireland’s MPA network from 2.13% to 30% of Ireland’s maritime area by 2030.

“Expanding Ireland’s MPA network will constitute a major change in marine environmental protection in Ireland. At present, there is no definition of an MPA in Irish law. Environmental protections under the Wildlife Acts only apply to the foreshore. Protection in marine areas beyond 12 nautical miles is limited, both in terms of space and species,”the two ministers state.

They have asked members of the public, stakeholders, industries and others for their views on the final report of the MPA advisory group, which was chaired by Prof Tasman Crowe of UCD’s Earth Institute.

The reports note that in addition to conserving marine species and habitats, MPAs can support maritime economic activity and reduce the effects of climate change and ocean acidification.

The report quotes economic data showing Ireland’s ocean economy has a turnover of €6.2 billion and provides stable, sustainable work for 34,132 full-time equivalent employees.

“Ireland, along with the rest of the world, faces the twin crises of climate change and accelerating biodiversity loss on land and at sea,” O’Brien said.

“The Government has a vision of clean, healthy, diverse and productive oceans and seas around Ireland. Over the last five months we have received a strong number of submissions, from a range of groups and people of all ages and backgrounds, on the advisory group’s report on progressing our vision of healthier seas,” he said.

"The submissions we receive now will inform our legislation on the identification, designation and management of MPAs. That work will begin later this year,” he said.

The Government recently published Ireland’s first National Marine Planning Framework and approved the Maritime Area Planning Bill.

It proposes to establish in law a new development consent regime for the maritime area.

Both the new forward planning model, envisaged by the Bill, and an expanded MPA network, will secure the NMPF’s objectives, the ministers state.

Published in Coastal Notes
Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004) on Irish helicopter search and rescue; and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010).

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Coastal Notes Coastal Notes covers a broad spectrum of stories, events and developments in which some can be quirky and local in nature, while other stories are of national importance and are on-going, but whatever they are about, they need to be told.

Stories can be diverse and they can be influential, albeit some are more subtle than others in nature, while other events can be immediately felt. No more so felt, is firstly to those living along the coastal rim and rural isolated communities. Here the impact poses is increased to those directly linked with the sea, where daily lives are made from earning an income ashore and within coastal waters.

The topics in Coastal Notes can also be about the rare finding of sea-life creatures, a historic shipwreck lost to the passage of time and which has yet many a secret to tell. A trawler's net caught hauling more than fish but cannon balls dating to the Napoleonic era.

Also focusing the attention of Coastal Notes, are the maritime museums which are of national importance to maintaining access and knowledge of historical exhibits for future generations.

Equally to keep an eye on the present day, with activities of existing and planned projects in the pipeline from the wind and wave renewables sector and those of the energy exploration industry.

In addition Coastal Notes has many more angles to cover, be it the weekend boat leisure user taking a sedate cruise off a long straight beach on the coast beach and making a friend with a feathered companion along the way.

In complete contrast is to those who harvest the sea, using small boats based in harbours where infrastructure and safety poses an issue, before they set off to ply their trade at the foot of our highest sea cliffs along the rugged wild western seaboard.

It's all there, as Coastal Notes tells the stories that are arguably as varied to the environment from which they came from and indeed which shape people's interaction with the surrounding environment that is the natural world and our relationship with the sea.

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