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Displaying items by tag: Fair Seas

A new report from Fair Seas and the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has raised fresh concerns about the lack of monitoring of Ireland’s inshore waters by the state, just days before World Ocean Day this Saturday, June 8th. The Celtic Mist 2023 Scientific Report details the findings of five months of research surveys along more than 3,200 kilometres along the coastlines of counties Cork, Kerry and Clare.

The focus of researchers from the IWDG, with the support of Fair Seas, was on two large Areas of Interest (AOI), which both showed low numbers of harbour porpoise sightings. In the Southwest Coast AOI, researchers say sightings were ‘significantly lower than expected’ especially within the Roaring Water Bay and Islands Special Area of Conservation (SAC), which aims to conserve harbour porpoise under EU law. In the Loop Head to Kenmare AOI, no harbour porpoises were observed at all within the Blasket Islands SAC, which is also designated to protect harbour porpoises.

Irish Whale and Dolphin Group Science Officer and Fair Seas Partner Rebecca Dudley says theirs is the latest piece of research that points to the issue: “Harbour porpoise numbers have been shown to be in decline off many parts of Ireland in recent years. We need more research to explore the drivers behind the decline but it is undoubtedly a cause for concern, given the importance of this species to our Special Areas of Conservation. It is disappointing to see that still no management plans for these supposedly ‘protected areas’ have been developed by the Government.

“It’s vitally important that additional state resources are allocated to this kind of research. We are lucky to have a group of dedicated volunteers working with us, but effective monitoring of what’s going on in the water off our coastline is a mammoth task and beyond the scope of groups like our own.

If the Irish Government is to meet its target of protecting 30% of Irish waters with Marine Protected Areas by 2030, then monitoring must drastically increase along with robust management plans for all designated areas. The message is all the more timely given this Saturday marks World Ocean Day 2024, which has ‘Catalyzing Action for Our Ocean & Climate’ as its action theme”.

The report highlights how no humpback whales were observed in the survey areas in the southwest at all, which tallies with reports from the IWDG’s Sighting Scheme of sightings being recorded further north, off the Sligo and Mayo coasts.The number of large baleen whales recorded were low in both areas surveyed, while eight sightings of fin whales occurred within the Loop Head to Kenmare section.

A total of 462 sightings of large marine animals or megafauna were recorded during nine surveys conducted between April and September last year. Some of the results include:

  • 48% of those seen were common dolphins
  • 22% were grey seals
  • 12% were minke whales
  • 25 sightings of bottlenose dolphins
  • 1 blue shark was spotted

Researchers have paid tribute to the 66 volunteers who assisted in last year’s survey, including skippers and first mates. The work is being expanded in 2024, as Rebecca Dudley explains: “We have now begun our latest round of surveys which will continue right through the summer and into September. Celtic Mist will be taking crew and volunteers all along the west coast of Ireland, from Bantry in Cork up to Killybegs in Donegal with quayside events taking place at various locations. It’s an incredible experience but it’s also an important project in the context of understanding what’s happening to marine life around the Irish coast”.

Celtic Mist was donated to the IWDG in 2011, by the family of Ireland’s former Taoiseach, Charles J. Haughey. At 17m, Celtic Mist has become the IWDG’s flagship vessel and can accommodate eight people. It has surveyed Irish inshore and offshore waters since 2012, successfully circumnavigating Ireland on several occasions and sailing to Iceland in 2018.

Published in Marine Wildlife

Irish marine areas that can promote biodiversity in the face of worsening climate change have been identified in a new report by Fair Seas, a coalition of leading environmental NGOs and networks. The report commissioned research to determine the areas of Ireland's marine environment that have the best chance of preserving ocean species and habitats for decades to come.

The research predicts that all Irish inshore waters will be under pressure from climate change by the end of the century. The report is expected to aid in the selection process for Marine Protected Areas (MPA) in Ireland. The long-awaited legislation is at an advanced stage of drafting and is due to be published in the coming weeks.

Rising sea temperatures can cause fish and other species found in Irish waters to move to cooler northern latitudesRising sea temperatures can cause fish and other species found in Irish waters to move to cooler northern latitudes

According to ecologists, researchers, and data scientists from the Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML), over half of Irish waters host climate change sanctuaries, areas that are more resilient to the effects of climate change. The majority of these areas are offshore and overlap with sites previously identified as 'Areas of Interest' for MPA designation by Fair Seas.

Last year, marine heatwaves struck Ireland and other parts of the world, serving as a stark reminder of the effects of climate change. Rising sea temperatures can cause fish and other species found in Irish waters to move to cooler northern latitudes. Marine Protected Areas offer a significant opportunity to preserve biodiversity for future generations, and it is essential to carefully manage and monitor the areas showing the greatest resilience to these adverse effects.

The report, titled 'A Climate-resilient Path for Ireland's Marine Protected Areas,' is part of 'Revitalising Our Seas report: Identifying Areas of Interest for Marine Protected Area Designation in Irish Waters,' which Fair Seas published in June 2022. The new chapter was authored by Ana M. Queirós, Elizabeth Talbot, Susan Kay, Sevrine Sailley, and Jose A Fernandes. It is available to read on the Fair Seas website.

This work was supported by a Call for Knowledge as part of the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme Climate Change and Future Marine Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity (FutureMARES) and further supported by NERC/ESRC through the project Marine Spatial Planning Addressing Climate Effects.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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Ireland's leading environmental NGOs and networks coalition, Fair Seas, has welcomed the announcement of €25 million in new funding for the protection of Irish seas. The European Commission has allocated €15 million, which is matched by €10 million from the government, to support the implementation of the EU's environmental and climate ambitions under the European Green Deal. These funds are part of a €233 million strategic investment to mobilise substantial additional funds from other EU sources, national governments and private sector investment.

Fair Seas has been campaigning for the protection of 30% of the seas around Ireland by 2030, including an EU Biodiversity Strategy recommended target of 10% strict protection. The coalition's coordinator, Dr. Donal Griffin, welcomed the funding and said, "At a time when the focus of legislators and civil society is on getting the Marine Protected Areas Bill published in the Dáil as soon as possible, it's an important reminder that without adequate resources the forthcoming Bill won’t achieve what we need it to achieve." 

Dr Griffin was recently interviewed about the effects of government plans for marine protection on watersports by Afloat here

Dr. Griffin added, "We estimate that overall, €55 million is needed to deliver a network of objective-driven, well-managed, monitored and enforced MPAs. Therefore, securing almost half of this resource in early 2024 is highly encouraging." 

Fair Seas published the first Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Finance Report in Europe last year, highlighting the cost to conserve and restore vital marine ecosystems. The report estimates that €55 million is required to adequately fund MPA designation and ongoing management until 2030.

Emma Armshaw, Marine And Coastal Policy Officer with the Sustainable Water Network, spoke on behalf of the Fair Seas Coalition and said, "A strong and ambitious MPA law that is well implemented is an incredibly important contribution to achieving the state's biodiversity targets and delivering healthy seas. Therefore, protecting our marine environment properly is a double win, especially as we are in the midst of a twin biodiversity and climate crises. But time is running out, we need a strong and ambitious MPA law as soon as possible."

A Puffin with a loaded, colorful beak with half a dozen fish to feed her chick Photo: Peter LoughlinA Puffin with a loaded, colorful beak with half a dozen fish to feed her chick Photo: Peter Loughlin

The MPA legislation was expected to be introduced before the Dáil summer recess in July 2023 and again before the end of 2023, but both targets were missed. The latest update from the Minister of State for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform confirmed that drafting is at an advanced stage and is expected to be ready for publication this quarter.

The funding awarded to these twelve strategic projects will support Bulgaria, Czechia, Ireland, Spain, France, Italy, Lithuania, Austria, Poland and Finland to reach their national environmental and climate targets as they ramp up their contributions to the EU's green transition.

For more information about Fair Seas here

Published in Marine Wildlife
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A coalition of Ireland’s leading environmental NGOs and networks says time is running out to protect Ireland’s marine environment.

With fewer than 20 Dáil sitting days left this year, Fair Seas says it is calling on the Government to enact the Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Bill without delay.

Fair Seas wants to see binding targets committing to effectively 30% of the seas around Ireland by 2030, with 10% strictly protected.

Dr Donal Griffin, marine policy officer with Fair Seas, was one of the speakers at a Green Foundation Ireland seminar about Ocean Warming and Marine Biodiversity at the National Maritime Museum of Ireland in Dun Laoghaire last week.

The event highlighted how climate change is affecting earth’s oceans, with marine warming in the North Atlantic increasing by five degrees this year, according to UK-based scientists.

This has put at risk the survival of kelp forests and other important habitats and species, which play a crucial role as a home for marine biodiversity around Ireland, Great Britain and Europe’s Atlantic coast.

Dr Griffin said: “Ireland’s marine area is enormous. However, its stewardship by successive Governments has failed to deliver its full ecological, economic or social potential.

“At the end of the day, healthy seas help tackle the biodiversity and climate crisis. Healthy seas are better able to mitigate the impact of climate change at global scale by regulating the climate, sequestering carbon and absorbing atmospheric heat. Healthy seas are able to withstand and quickly recover from extreme events. They are also better positioned to help coastal communities adapt to the social and economic changes brought about by climate change.”

Dr Griffin added: “The MPA Bill was promised before the summer recess. We’re now quickly approaching the Christmas break… This legislation needs to be robust, fit-for-purpose and it’s essential we get it right.

“We want to see stakeholder engagement at every stage, clear delivery timeframes and a robust management framework, with targeted, site-specific measures to ensure MPAs deliver for nature.”

Other speakers at the event included former Green Party MEP Grace O’Sullivan; Karin Dubsky, director of Coastwatch; and Dr Saule Akhmetkaliyeva from the Blue Carbon Research Lab at UCD.

Published in Environment

Ireland will need to spend about €55 million between 2024 and 2030 to reach its targets of protecting 30% of seas and oceans, according to the Fair Seas coalition.

A report published by Fair Seas, a coalition of environmental non-governmental organisations and networks, estimates that of the €55 million needed to fund designation and management of marine protected areas (MPAs), approximately €7 million would be required over the next 12 months.

This latter sum would allow Ireland to reach the target of fully protecting 10% of ocean and seas, it says.

The current figure is just 8.3% since the designation of two recent additional special areas of conservation.

The Fair Seas report entitled Sustainably Financing Ireland's Marine Protected Area Network is the first of its kind, it says.

It calculates that a spend of €54.9 million comprises a total spend of €12.4 million to establish the full 30% MPA network and €42.5 million to continuously manage the growing network between 2024 and 2030.

It calculates that to achieve 10% of EEZ protection in 2024, €7.0 million is needed to cover upfront establishment and management costs in 2024.

It says that once a “30x30 network” is implemented, it is estimated that an annual average of €9.6 million will need to be spent on annual management costs for Ireland to maintain its 30% of EEZ network beyond 2030.

“ Between 2024 and 2030, the amount needing to be spent on establishment and management of MPAs varies as the MPA network grows from the current 8.3% of EEZ to the target 30% of EEZ in 2030

Fair Seas says that its report shows how full protection of the marine ecosystem would be cheaper, and more effective, than partial protection.

The report sets out operating expenditure including staff salaries, scientific studies, boat fuel and maintenance, as well as capital expenditure like boat and car purchases, demarcation buoys, scuba diving equipment and surveillance equipment such as radar and drones.

The report also details possible next steps for the Government and assesses potential sources of funding relevant to Ireland. The options range from EU grants and philanthropic donations to revenue-generating mechanisms and potential reallocations of funding.

Fair Seas says the report has been reviewed by international experts, including Valerie Hickey, Global Director for Environment, Natural Resources and Blue Economy at the World Bank; Dr Rashid Sumaila, Professor of Ocean and Fisheries Economics at the University of British Columbia; and Dr Sarah Ryan Enright, Ocean Law and Governance Researcher, Charles Darwin Foundation. The report is supported by Blue Nature Alliance and its partners.

The Fair Seas campaign is funded by Oceans 5, Becht Foundation, the Blue Nature Alliance and the Wyss Foundation.

The full report is here

Published in Marine Planning
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An ocean economist, who won the prestigious 2023 Tyler Prize for the Environment Award, has been announced as the keynote speaker for the inaugural Fair Seas World Ocean Day Conference next month.

Rashid Sumaila, Professor of Ocean and Fisheries Economics at the University of British Columbia, is a joint recipient of the 2023 award, often described as the ‘Nobel Prize for the Environment’ and will be addressing delegates at the World Ocean Day conference on issues of environmental financing, fisheries and ocean protection.

"To get to Infinity Fish from Vanishing Fish, we need to abandon the notion that we have to take everything everywhere all at once!”

The first-of-its-kind event at Cork City Hall on Thursday, June 8th will bring together ocean advocates, global experts, government, industry and key stakeholders. It aims to map out Ireland’s next steps for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) focusing on designation, management and learning from best practice around the globe.

MPAs are areas of our seas and coasts legally protected from activities that damage the designated habitats, wildlife and natural processes that occur there. Ireland’s Marine Protected Areas Bill 2023 remains at the pre-legislative stage and Fair Seas, a coalition of Ireland’s leading environmental non-governmental organisations and networks, is calling for ambitious and effective legislation to be brought forward as soon as possible.

A number of national and international experts and stakeholders will address the conference, including:

  • Adrian Gahan, EU and UK Policy Director for National Geographic Pristine Seas;
  • Prof Mark Costello, an ecologist specialising in Marine Protected Areas and the effects of climate change on biodiversity, Nord University;
  • Dr Micheál Ó Cinnéide, former Director with the EPA, Marine Institute and policy advisor in the Department of the Marine;
  • Danni Washington, world-renowned television host and science communicator;
  • Brian MacSharry, Head of Group in the Biodiversity, Health and Resources Programme at the European Environment Agency in Copenhagen.

MC for the conference is author and co-founder of The Positive Economist Susan Hayes Culleton, CFA.

Aoife O’ Mahony, Campaign Manager for Fair Seas said, “We need action now to restore critical ocean habitats, safeguard wildlife and help address the climate crisis. Our World Ocean Day Conference is about learning from national and international experts and showing how we can apply best practice here. Prof Rashid Sumaila, our keynote speaker, was among the first to apply economic ideas like Game Theory to fisheries. He has shown how economics can help ensure that environmental resources are sustainably managed to benefit all generations. We’re honoured to have speakers from National Geographic Society, European Environment Agency, the Blue Marine Foundation and Ocean D’Azul joining us in Cork. We will also have inspirational addresses from special guests zooming in.”

Rashid Sumaila added, “To get to Infinity Fish from Vanishing Fish, we need to abandon the notion that we have to take everything everywhere all at once!”

Pádraic Fogarty, Campaigns Officer with the Irish Wildlife Trust said, “Ireland has long thought of itself as having waters rich in marine life but without meaningful protection this wealth will not endure. We can't lose any more time in the race to protect what's left and restore our seas to their former glory.”

The Fair Seas World Ocean Day Conference takes place at Cork City Hall from 9.30 am to 5.00 pm on Thursday, June 8th. Registration is now open with ticket prices starting from €75.00 for students, civil society and environmental non-governmental organisations. 

The LÉ Samuel Beckett will be quayside during the conference and will be open for tours for participants. The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group’s Celtic Mist will also be docked in Cork City to show how citizen science has collected data for decades to inform future decision-making and ocean conservation.

Published in Marine Science
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Fair Seas has been named a champion in Ireland’s efforts to become a world leader in reaching the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The coalition of leading environmental non-governmental organisations and networks is one of 26 organisations appointed by the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD.

Fair Seas is recognised for its ongoing work to protect, conserve and restore Ireland’s unique marine environment. Its objectives align closely with SDG 14, which is concerned with ‘Life Below Water’ and aims to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources. Fair Seas is campaigning for the Government to designate a minimum of 30% of Irish waters as Marine Protected Areas (MPA) by 2030. The Marine Protected Areas Bill 2023 is currently at the pre-legislative stage with further progress expected to be made before the Dáil’s summer recess.

In total, there are 17 interlinked SDGs, developed to transform our planet adopted by all 193 members of the United Nations in 2015. Between 2014 and 2015 Ireland co-led negotiations to agree the goals. The overall objective of the SDGs is to eradicate poverty, find sustainable and inclusive development solutions, meet everyone’s human rights, and ensure that no one is left behind.

Ireland’s SDG Champion Programme was developed to raise awareness of the goals and show how everyone in society can contribute to achieving them. Champions have been selected from the public, private, community, voluntary, youth and NGO sectors and are represented by larger, national organisations and smaller, community groups.

Aoife O’Mahony, Fair Seas Campaign Manager said, “We’re honoured to be selected as an SDG Champion for Ireland’s Life below Water. Our role over the next 12 months is to act as an advocate and promoter of the global goals and to show how we all can contribute to making our world a better place.”

She adds, “The work and aims of the Fair Seas campaign spans several SDGs including primarily SDG Life Below Water, but is also intrinsically linked to SDG 15 Life on Land, SDG 13 Climate Action and others. The ocean is the world’s largest ecosystem and absorbs around a quarter of global annual CO2 emissions, however in many parts and respects its health is in steep decline. Yet, we know that clean, healthy and productive seas are vital for healthy ecosystems, coastal communities and livelihoods. We’re continuing to build national and global partnerships to focus on the universal goal to conserve 30% of our ocean. By working cohesively together across counties and countries, we are encouraging a societal and participatory approach to achieving the SDG goals.”

Ireland will, for the first time in 5 years, present a Voluntary National Review of its SDG progress to the UN this July at the High Level Political Forum in New York.

Simon Berrow, CEO of Irish Whale and Dolphin Group highlights the importance of this role “SDGs are important markers of human endeavours to create a more equitable and fair society with functioning and thriving ecosystems that not only support human life but support the planet's biodiversity. We are all obliged to review our life and work with respect to SDGs.”

Earlier this year, Fair Seas successfully campaigned for the Greater Skellig Coast to become Ireland’s first Hope Spot. A large part of the southwest coast of Ireland was designated a Hope Spot by Mission Blue, joining a list of places like the Great Barrier Reef and the Galápagos Islands.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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A coalition of Ireland’s leading environmental non-governmental organisations and networks has signed up to a charter pledging to take concrete actions to protect our ocean and waters - one of the first 100 communities in Europe to do so.

Fair Seas has signed the European Mission “Restore our Ocean and Waters by 2030” which brings together member states, regions and a wide range of stakeholders with the common goal of making our oceans healthy again.

The European Commission is hosting a three-day hybrid event and conference in Cork this week in cooperation with Ireland Ministries and the National Maritime College of Ireland, Ringaskiddy. It is focusing on the political commitments to implement the Mission and agree measures to protect and restore marine and freshwater ecosystems and biodiversity as well as boosting coastal resilience.

Aoife O’ Mahony, Campaign Manager for Fair Seas, signed the Mission Charter and also addressed the Community Action session. Fair Seas is urging the Government to designate a minimum of 30% of Irish waters as Marine Protected Areas by 2030, up from the current figure of 2%.

Aoife O’Mahony said, “At Fair Seas, our aim is to protect, conserve and restore Ireland’s remarkable marine environment. We share the same goals as the European Mission and are delighted to become one of the first 100 communities to sign the charter. We want to build a movement of ocean stewardship in Ireland by highlighting the uniqueness and significance of our marine environment.. This new awareness of the wonder of our ocean has already increased awareness of Marine Protected Areas in Ireland, as seen in our recent consumer perception research and helps to build momentum around upcoming legislation. Ireland has a unique opportunity to learn from those who have gone before us and ensure we develop robust and flexible legislation that will protect our ocean for generations to come.”

A recent REDC survey of more than 1,000 people, carried out on behalf of the Fair Seas campaign, shows strong support for additional protections with four out of five people saying they would support a campaign to protect more of our seas.

Dr Peter Heffernan is a member of the European Commission's Mission Board ‘Restore Our Ocean and Waters by 2030’. He said, “The aim of this event is to mobilise a wide range of stakeholders to join the Mission. The Mission is highly ambitious and wants to protect a minimum of 30% of the EU’s sea area. A third of this area, representing 10% of the EU sea, should be strictly protected. These are areas of very high biodiversity and climate value. Ireland has an opportunity to engage in this ambitious mission and involve stakeholders from across the Island to support this restoration and conservation of our ocean and become a leader in Europe.”

The Fair Seas campaign is led by a coalition of Ireland’s leading environmental non-governmental organisations and networks including Irish Wildlife Trust, BirdWatch Ireland, Sustainable Water Network, Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, Coomhola Salmon Trust, Irish Environmental Network and Coastwatch.

Published in Fishing
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‘Winds of Change at Sea’ is the title of an open public discussion on the future of our seas in Killiney next week.

Hosted by Fair Seas alongside Killiney Bay Community Council and Dalkey Community Council, the event will hear from the environmental coalition’s Regina Classen who will discuss the scientific background around her work on identifying Fair Seas’ suggested candidates for enhanced marine protections.

The group recommends that Ireland’s Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) must increase from the current 2.1% of coastal and offshore areas to 36%.

Last month it was reported that draft legislation to increase Ireland’s MPAs was “almost completed”. Heritage Malcolm Noonan said the first drafts of the bill “will set an ambition for Ireland to reach 30% MPAs”.

The event will also discuss whether there is any conflict between these MPA proposals and the growth of offshore wind energy projects that are expected to play a significant role in Ireland’s emission reduction plans.

The open event takes place next Wednesday 20 July at Fitzpatrick’s Castle in Killiney from 7.30pm to 9pm. Attendance is free but booking is essential, via the Eventbrite page HERE.

Published in Marine Planning

The Fair Seas campaign has welcomed Ireland’s contribution of almost 10 million euro to address ocean challenges faced by developing countries, including small island developing states.

The funding was confirmed earlier this week by Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney on the eve of the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal.

Ireland is being represented at the conference by Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan.

Solutions for a sustainably managed ocean involving green technology, along with innovative uses of marine resources, are being discussed at the international gathering.

Fair Seas said that access to adequate funding and resources is “essential for small island states to tackle the myriad of ocean threats which impact local biodiversity and communities”.

“This substantial financial investment shows Ireland’s support for conserving ocean biodiversity globally, and Fair Seas look forward to seeing similar investments in marine conservation efforts at national level,” the network’s campaign manager Aoife O’Mahony said.

“The Irish Government has committed to protecting 30% of our ocean by 2030, yet progress towards that target is lacking, while 65% of monitored coastal habitats are in unfavourable condition,” Fair Seas noted.

“Ireland needs to turn the tide on this decline. By accelerating the conversation with stakeholders, local communities and groups on how it will introduce new marine protected areas (MPAs), Ireland will not only help achieve healthy and productive ecosystems locally but will be doing our bit for marine protection and conservation at the European and global level too,” it said.

Fair Seas has been campaigning for a network of MPAs covering at least 30 per cent of Irish waters by 2030.

The campaign is led by a coalition of environmental non-governmental organisations and networks including Irish Wildlife Trust, BirdWatch Ireland, Sustainable Water Network, Friends of the Irish Environment, Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, Coomhola Salmon Trust, Irish Environmental Network and Coastwatch.

The Fair Seas campaign is funded by Oceans 5, Blue Nature Alliance, BFCT and The Wyss Foundation.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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