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NGOs Welcome Citizens' Assembly on Biodiversity Loss Final Report

6th April 2023
Coastwatch co-ordinator Karin Dubsky
Coastwatch co-ordinator Karin Dubsky

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have welcomed the final report of the Citizens' Assembly on Biodiversity Loss which extends to the marine environment.

The report by 99 members of the Citizens’ Assembly carries 159 recommendations on how Ireland can improve its response to the biodiversity crisis.

The final report “echoes the overwhelming majority of recommendations championed by the Environmental Pillar”, the 32-member coalition of Irish environmental NGOs said.

Coastwatch, which is part of the Environmental Pillar, said that the core recommendations were “superb” and “if implemented, can turn decades of biodiversity loss around and give citizens rights to protect nature”.

“The assembly’s recommendation to not just designate 30% of Ireland’s maritime area as marine protected areas (MPAs) by 2030, but effectively manage this network of MPAs is crucial,” Coastwatch co-ordinator Karin Dubsky said.

“However, aquaculture doesn’t get a mention in the report, and the marine environment is under unprecedented pressure today. Ireland will need to do much more to ensure healthy seas into the future,” Dubsky said.

Environmental Pillar land use policy and advocacy officer Fintan Kelly said that the government “now has a clear mandate from the Irish people to redouble efforts to restore nature”.

“Through the Nature Restoration Law, which is currently being negotiated at an EU level, the government has a unique opportunity to immediately respond to the concerns of the Citizens Assembly by positively shaping the EU’s response to biodiversity loss and climate change,” he said.

“We call on the Irish government to play a positive role in negotiations and maximise the opportunity for the country and deliver the long-term support required to improve our relationship with nature across land and at sea,” Kelly said.

In a separate statement, the Fair Seas network said, "Immediate action and significant funding is needed to address Ireland’s biodiversity crisis”.

Fair Seas is committed to seeing a minimum of 30% of Irish waters designated and managed as MPAs by 2030, up from the current figure of 8%.

Lorna Siggins

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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 Search and Rescue: True stories of Irish Air-Sea Rescues and the Loss of R116 (2022); Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004); and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010). She is also co-producer with Sarah Blake of the Doc on One "Miracle in Galway Bay" which recently won a Celtic Media Award

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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!