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Kerry is Focus of Coastal Communities Film Launched by Environmental Group 'Fair Seas'

5th October 2022
Eugene Farrelly of Tralee Bay Sea Angling Club is interviewed for the new Fair Seas film
Eugene Farrelly of Tralee Bay Sea Angling Club is interviewed for the new Fair Seas film

A short film featuring the views of local communities who make a living from the sea is set to be launched in Kerry this week. Fair Seas, a coalition of Ireland’s leading environmental non-governmental organisations and networks, created the 12-minute feature to explore how changes to how marine areas are protected would affect the people living nearby.

The film hears voices in coastal communities, including fishers, eco-tourism operators and biologists. Exploring local stories, hopes and fears, it delves into how Marine Protected Areas might offer new means to conserve the incredible marine life that has supported these communities for centuries.

Fair Seas is calling on the Government to designate a minimum of 30% of Irish waters as a network of effective and well-managed Marine Protected Areas by 2030. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are areas of our seas and coasts legally protected from activities that damage the habitats, wildlife and natural processes. Currently, just 2% of Irish waters are protected.

The group published a report in June identifying 16 ‘Areas of Interest’ for MPA designation in Irish waters, including one area stretching along the Kerry coastline from Kenmare Bay as far as Loop Head in Clare.

Tralee and Dingle Bays are breeding areas for several threatened shark, ray and skate species. This is an important area for whales, dolphins and porpoises with islands and archipelagos that skirt the peninsulas of Kerry, some of Ireland’s most prominent seabird breeding sites.

Aoife O’ Mahony, Campaign Manager for Fair Seas said, “Kerry has a fascinating marine environment where large numbers of dolphins, humpback whales and minke whales can be seen. It’s also home to significant colonies of puffins and gannets. It is in everyone's interest that these areas are conserved and protected. We’ve started the conversations around Marine Protected Areas as significant progress is needed if Ireland is to reach the 30% targets set down by Europe by 2030. The people who rely on our oceans are central to this, so we spoke to fishers, anglers, divers, eco-tourism operators and locals to get their views and opinions.”

Fair Seas filming - Aoife O Mahony - Fairseas, Neave Foxall, Annika Hitmiangsong, Oisin Foxall, Lucy Hunt- Sea Synergy, Sophie Harley, Dylan Carey, Mackenzie Bodyfelt, Maya FoxallFair Seas filming - Aoife O Mahony - Fairseas, Neave Foxall, Annika Hitmiangsong, Oisin Foxall, Lucy Hunt- Sea Synergy, Sophie Harley, Dylan Carey, Mackenzie Bodyfelt, Maya Foxall

Lucy Hunt, Founder of Sea Synergy is featured in the film, (and features in this podcast on Afloat here) she added, “Seeing integrated coastal zone management and marine protected areas that includes all stakeholders, including the ocean and all the life it supports, is vital to maintain sustainable and resilient coastal communities. Kerry has amazing marine ecosystems; it’s not just home to marine mammals and wildlife but has habitats that can contribute to mitigating climate change, some of which are yet to be explored or mapped. More research is important, but we know enough to start the protection process. Stakeholder engagement, resource provision and policy action is the next step.”

The film will be officially launched at 7.00 pm on Friday, October 7th as part of the Iveragh Learning Landscapes weekend at Tech Amergin, Waterville. Tickets for the weekend of walks, talks and workshops are €5 and are available online 

Fair Seas marine policy officer Dr Donal Griffin will be taking part in the Climate Conversations panel on Saturday afternoon alongside marine biologist and TV host Danni Washington, Lucy Hunt Founder of Sea Synergy and Vincent Hyland of Wild Derrynane.

This film was part funded by the Networking and Marine Research Communications Awards, funded by the Marine Institute under the Marine Research Programme with the support of the Irish Government.

It was produced by Swimming Head Productions, an award-winning team specialising in quick-fire documentaries with a focus on heritage, science and the natural world.

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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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