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Conference Calls On UK Govt to 'Save Our Irish Sea'

28th October 2012
Conference Calls On UK Govt to 'Save Our Irish Sea'

#MARINE WILDLIFE - Marine experts are calling on the UK public to pile pressure on their government to create Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) to help protect and restore marine wildlife in the Irish Sea and around the British coast.

The Living Seas North West Conference in Cumbria recently was a call to arms for marine experts and the public to join forces to protect the oceans.

And organisers the North West Wildlife Trusts used the event to press support for nature reserves in the Irish Sea as part of a UK-wide campaign by The Wildlife Trusts for 127 MCZs around the United Kingdom.

Callum Roberts, Professor of Marine Conservation at the University of York, described areas off the Isle of Man which have never been dredged as “carpeted with life”.

He said: “In the 19th century the Irish Sea bed was crusted with oysters. Today it is not just a sea different in the quantity of the wildlife it is different in the quality of the habitats in which that wildlife lives.”

Prof Roberts described how a study showed that dredging to catch 28,000 prawns also caught 12,000 other fish, most of which were thrown away. He also spoke of dives where he has seen the seabed damaged in huge areas by trawling.

“Over-fishing is not the only thing going on in the oceans," he said, "they are also affected by climate change and pollution. Our seas are changing faster than at any other time in human history.”

Prof Roberts said he was not against fishing, but that conservationists and the fishing industry need to find some common ground. “The prosperity of wildlife and the fishing industry depend on it," he said.

Meanwhile, The Wildlife Trusts marine protected areas manager Richard White spoke about the problems caused "by all the things that human activity is doing wrong".

He added: "We are trying to increase the resilience of our marine wildlife. The critical part is that we are doing this by trying to create Marine Conservation Zones.”

Pollution was highlighted by TV star and diver Paul Rose and Caroline Salthouse of the North West Coastal Forum.

“A huge problem is ocean debris," said Rose. "In 43 years of diving I am beginning to see more plastic and less fish. It is an issue that we must use to get people engaged in what is going on in our seas.”

Salthouse called for the public not only to sign the Wildlife Trusts’ new 'Petition Fish', but also to write to the British government as individuals.

More details about the Marine Conservation Zones and Petition Fish can be found at www.wildlifetrusts.org/living-seas

Published in Marine Wildlife
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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Marine Wildlife Around Ireland One of the greatest memories of any day spent boating around the Irish coast is an encounter with marine wildlife.  It's a thrill for young and old to witness seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales right there in their own habitat. As boaters fortunate enough to have experienced it will testify even spotting a distant dorsal fin can be the highlight of any day afloat.  Was that a porpoise? Was it a whale? No matter how brief the glimpse it's a privilege to share the seas with Irish marine wildlife.

Thanks to the location of our beautiful little island, perched in the North Atlantic Ocean there appears to be no shortage of marine life to observe.

From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other ocean animals this page documents the most interesting accounts of marine wildlife around our shores. We're keen to receive your observations, your photos, links and youtube clips.

Boaters have a unique perspective and all those who go afloat, from inshore kayaking to offshore yacht racing that what they encounter can be of real value to specialist organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) who compile a list of sightings and strandings. The IWDG knowledge base has increased over the past 21 years thanks in part at least to the observations of sailors, anglers, kayakers and boaters.

Thanks to the IWDG work we now know we share the seas with dozens of species who also call Ireland home. Here's the current list: Atlantic white-sided dolphin, beluga whale, blue whale, bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin, Cuvier's beaked whale, false killer whale, fin whale, Gervais' beaked whale, harbour porpoise, humpback whale, killer whale, minke whale, northern bottlenose whale, northern right whale, pilot whale, pygmy sperm whale, Risso's dolphin, sei whale, Sowerby's beaked whale, sperm whale, striped dolphin, True's beaked whale and white-beaked dolphin.

But as impressive as the species list is the IWDG believe there are still gaps in our knowledge. Next time you are out on the ocean waves keep a sharp look out!

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