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Displaying items by tag: Nature Restoration Law

Two Government ministers have welcomed the European Parliament vote approving the Nature Restoration Law.

While the controversial legislation has a strong land-based focus, it includes important elements aimed at improving water quality in member states.

Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue and Minister of State for Nature and Heritage Malcolm Noonan have issued a joint statement welcoming the vote in favour.

The proposed regulation, which had completed trilogue negotiations between the European Commission, the Council and the Parliament, was formally approved on Tuesday, February 27th, in a plenary session of the Parliament in Luxembourg.

Eleven of Ireland’s 13 MEPs voted in favour of the law, and Minister Noonan said that the focus “now turns to the development of Ireland’s Nature Restoration Plan”.

“It is my intention to work with the Minister for Finance to ensure that the Government’s €3.15bn Climate and Nature Fund, which was announced as part of Budget 2024, will underpin the implementation of nature restoration measures across the country and deliver real benefits for rural economies,” he said.

Through the National Federation of Group Water Schemes, some 130 Irish farmers are participating in dedicated initiatives to protect water quality.

“It is anticipated that this number will grow substantially to over 15,000 in the coming years as two new projects – the Waters of LIFE Project and the Water European Innovation Partnership (EIP)led by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine – come on stream,” Noonan said.

The 60-million-euro Water EIP project hopes to bring about improvements in water quality with co-benefits for climate change and biodiversity.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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The Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) has welcomed the agreement on the text of the Nature Restoration Law, the first-ever binding EU law to restore 20% of European land and seas by 2030.

The IWT’s marine advocacy officer Grace Carr had said it is “a relief to know that a deal has been struck, although a much-weakened version will not be enough to combat the biodiversity and climate crisis we are facing”.

“It is important that there will be timelines in place to restrict destructive fishing practices in the EU and that member states show the ambition and resolution needed to ensure targets are met on land and sea,” she has said.

The negotiations between the EU Parliament, EU Commission and the Council on the text concluded late last week in Brussels.

“ The text is not as strong as the Commission's original proposal. However, all ecosystems (including agriculture, which was previously deleted from the Parliament’s text) have been included, albeit with many loopholes,” the IWT says.

“The final text has not yet been released, and so we do not know the full outcome as of yet,” the IWT said in an initial reaction.

“The next steps for this law will be an EU Parliament Environment Committee vote at the end of November, after which the law must be passed by a majority of MEPs in the full sitting of the European Parliament,” it says.

“Restoration of our damaged and degraded habitats is essential if we are to save nature within Ireland and Europe and secure the many direct benefits nature provides society, such as crop pollination, flood prevention and soil health,” the IWT says.

It has called on EU member states, MEPs and the public to “continue supporting this law in its final stages”.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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The European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) very much welcomes the aim of enhancing biodiversity and preserving nature.

ESPO therefore support the aims set out in the Nature Restoration Law, but believes this new proposal must act as a complement to existing EU legislation, rather than introducing another layer of complexity in nature restoration efforts.

The proposal must avoid reinventing the wheel, and should provide some flexibility for ports and a level playing field on the European level.

Since ports are often located in or near different natural areas, ports strive to integrate the protection of biodiversity in all port operations, making it part of their license to operate. Ports have already demonstrated that port development and ecological transition towards better and more nature can go in hand.

As partners in realising the energy transition, Europe’s ports will need more physical space and a facilitating legislative framework to truly become hubs of renewable energies, and to be an enabler in the race to a Net-Zero Europe. Socioeconomic and strategic considerations must be viewed alongside the continued economic operations of the ports and nature restoration efforts.

ESPO’s initial views on the proposal are available here.

“Whereas we support the Commission’s intention to better protect nature, it is important to understand that developing the infrastructure in ports that is necessary for Europe’s much needed energy transition, and restoring nature can go hand in hand. Europe’s ports need a coherent, stable, and clear framework for nature restoration. Respect for existing well-functioning tools such as those of the Water Framework Directive is of paramount importance to succeed. Adding extra barriers and complexity could hinder the ports’ green development plans and hence the energy transition,“ says Isabelle Ryckbost, ESPO Secretary General.
Europe’s seaports have a long-standing experience of working with nature

ESPO member ports have long-standing experience working with the protection and restoration of natural areas, working with the legal and scientific processes set out in relevant EU legislation, especially the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). Together with the European Commission, ESPO has also developed guidance on the Habitats Directive. Different port good practices can be found here.

In addition to working closely with existing EU legislation, ports in Europe are going beyond legal requirements in their efforts to combine sustainable port operations with the promotion of biodiversity and habitat restoration.

Concerns regarding EP compromises on Article 4 and 5

The EP compromises for Articles 4 and 5 on restoration in coastal and marine environments respectively do not currently refer to the relevant EU legislation, specifically the Water Framework Directive and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

In contrast to the Commission proposal, the EP compromise for Article 4 only leaves the possibility to apply the regime of the Habitats Directive. Crucially, the requirement of compensation now introduced in Art 4(8)c does not exist in WFD, where you only need to qualify exceptions from the requirements without engaging in mandatory compensatory measures. As a consequence, the Water Framework Directive would become irrelevant.

ESPO urges the EP rapporteur and MEPs in the responsible ENVI Committee to make sure that the Nature Restoration proposal is fully aligned with all relevant EU legislation, specifically the WFD. Since there seems to be no majority in the EP ENVI Committee to add “provided that the Member State concerned has adopted adequate compensatory measures”, ESPO would propose to delete this addition.

Strong support for the amendments calling for coherence and flexibility

Furthermore, ESPO strongly supports the following amendments that maintain coherence with EU legislation for the exceptions in Art. 4.8c: 851, 855, 856, 857, 860, 861, 862, 863, 864.

The WFD and MSFD also consider key socioeconomic aspects, allowing for the promotion and encouragement of renewable projects in combination with nature restoration efforts. ESPO welcomes that some mention of socioeconomic impacts is made in the draft EP compromises (Article 12(2)a (ja)), and underlines that these considerations must also form part of the operative Articles 4, 5 and 11. To this end, the following amendments tabled in the EP ENVI Committee should be reflected in the final EP compromises: 711, 736, 758, 759, 766, 848, 869-72, 875, 910, 920-21, 923.

The following amendments on the promotion of renewable projects and greater flexibility for ports should also be reflected in the final compromises: 1071-1073, 1080-81, 1084-5, 1119, 1126.

ESPO remains committed to help bring nature back in Europe through ambitious and workable measures aligned with existing legal and scientific processes.

Published in Ports & Shipping

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!