Leading national environmental groups have joined forces to launch a new campaign to rapidly expand Marine Protected Areas in Irish Waters and SWAN is delighted to be a partner in the campaign. The Fair Seas campaign is calling for at least 10% of Irish waters to be designated as ‘Fully Protected’ by 2025 and at least 30% by 2030.
Fair Seas aim is to see Ireland, with a renewed appreciation of the ocean, become a world leader in marine protection, giving our species, habitats and coastal communities the opportunity to thrive.
A Marine Protected Area (MPA) is a part of the ocean that is protected by laws to conserve species, habitats and ecosystems. MPAs are a vital tool in improving ocean health. Currently, there is no definition of MPA in Irish law. Fair Seas is urgently asking our government to create robust and ambitious legislation so that our waters can be effectively protected, managed and monitored right out to the edge of the continental shelf.
Today Ireland’s MPA coverage is at a mere 2.13% lagging behind even our closest neighbours in Scotland at 37%. Ireland has not met its previous target of 10% protection by 2020. Fair Seas will hold the government to account so it does not miss its upcoming targets. Ireland’s maritime area is seven times the size of our landmass and is home to spectacular wildlife including endangered basking sharks, humpback whales, blue whales, otters, seals, puffins and even deep-sea coral reefs. Fair Seas will publish its first expert report underpinned by scientific data in summer 2022, which will identify where we need MPAs in Irish waters.
Ellen MacMahon, SWAN Policy Officer, said: “At present, Ireland has one of the lowest levels of marine protection in Europe. There is an urgent need to increase our levels of protection to at least 30%. Crucially, that 30% must provide effective protection for our iconic habitats and species. We want to see Ireland become a world leader in marine protection and through this campaign, we hope to realise that goal.”