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Displaying items by tag: marine protected area

There is a growing feeling in the fishing industry that there is a lack of coordination between various Government Departments in developing marine, specially designated protected areas.

This has been particularly highlighted by the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation, which has claimed that the initial proposed Special Area of Conservation along the Porcupine Shelf and Southern Canyons, followed by the announcement of a Special Protection Area (SPA) in the North West Irish Sea in July, constitute what it describes as “the most chaotic form of governance that will ultimately alienate fishermen, driving a wedge between them and Government.

There is an acceptance within the industry that offshore developments, part of Government policy, will affect fishing, but there is what has been described to me as “deep unease”.

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Published in Tom MacSweeney

Irish fishing industry organisations have given a qualified welcome to an ecological analysis relating to potential marine protected areas (MPAs) in the Irish Sea.

The recently published report recommends a list of 40 sensitive species and habitats which should be protected when MPAs are designated in the western Irish Sea.

Angel shark, basking shark, tope, American plaice and the European eel are among the 40 species and habitats, along with the blonde ray, cuckoo ray, edible sea urchin and short-snouted sea horse.

Some 18 of the features or species nominated, including 14 fish, which are already on protected lists.

The 132-page report does not include species or habitats already listed in the EU Birds and Habitats Directives, or individually managed under the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

Prof Tasman Crowe, director of University College, Dublin’s Earth Institute, and a group of scientists were given four months to come up with an ecological analysis informing new legislation on MPAs.

They were asked to focus on the western Irish Sea area extending from Carlingford Lough to Carnsore Point, where the first concentration offshore wind farms will be built off the Irish coast.

The Government has committed to designating 30 per cent of Ireland’s “blue field” as marine protected areas (MPAs) by 2030 in line with EU commitments, and MPA legislation is expected to be in place by the end of the year.

The ecological study notes that it is a key area for commercial fishing of the Dublin Bay prawn, whelk and herring, and profiles the extent of fisheries for scallop, cockles and pot fishing for whelks.

It also documents fisheries for razor clams, dredging for mussel seed, beam trawl fishery for rays and mixed demersal fish, along with bottom trawling targeting rays and mixed demersal fish.

It says it is “important to note that the full extent” of areas within which the 40 species or habitats are found would not be required for an effective network of MPAs, and notes that “not all activities would need to be restricted within them”.

National Inshore Fishermen’s Association secretary Kieran Healy said that he had represented his organisation on the stakeholder consultations for the report, and the authors had emphasised that transparency had to be a key factor.

“We were invited to have our say and to elaborate on our concerns, so I couldn’t find any fault with the process,” Healy said.

He said that the report was “extremely well put together” and “everybody’s contribution is addressed”.

“It is quite up front about there having to be some sort of tradeoffs in relation to bottom trawling, dredging and beaming,” he said, and he believed fishermen should be allowed to state their case.

However, Healy also urged “all fishermen to read this report”.

IFPO chief executive Aodh O’Donnell said it was “important that this work is done, but the issue we would have is that it was compiled in very little time”.

“There was also no matching socio-economic impact analysis, and we are calling for this to be done,” O’Donnell said.

“A very high percentage of the areas where there is fishing for Dublin Bay prawns and mussel seed falls into the scope of what is being considered, so we need a proper study of the impact,” he said.

Irish South and East Fish Producers’ Organisation (ISEFPO) chief executive John Lynch said that the report was “very comprehensive” and welcomed an approach which focused on species or sensitive structures and habits.

The report is “probably the closest thing Ireland has to a marine spatial plan”, Lynch said, and it highlighted that “the sea is a very busy place” and there is “still a job of work to do”.

Published in Marine Planning