BIGGER AND BETTER MARINE PROTECTED AREAS
Ireland’s marine territory is a whopping then times the size of our land mass. It contains amazing biodiversity, from deep water coral reefs to inshore seaweed forests. Whales, sharks and great shoals of fish inhabit this blue space.
With such a vast marine wealth also comes the great responsibility to safeguard and indeed restore precious habitats and species.
One proven way of doing that is by establishing well designed and managed Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
What is an MPA?
Any area of intertidal or sub-tidal terrain, together with its overlying water and associated flora, fauna, historical and cultural features, which has been reserved by law or other effectives means to protect part or all of the enclosed environment, (Kelleher, 1999).
Current coverage of MPAs in Ireland
Ireland, along with many other countries, has committed to designate 10% of its seas as MPAs by 2020 and 30% by 2030. Yet so far, we have protected only 2%!
Coastwatch and Irish Wildlife Trust are the Irish partners in an international MPA project coordinated by Seas at Risk and supported by the environmental law firm Client Earth. Our Irish short term goals are:
1. Establishing 10% of our seas as MPAs as promised and achieved by other EU member states. Local knowledge is needed to identify missing links in the network of inshore sites.
2. Transforming the approach to MPAs from paper parks to well managed protected sites where nature flourishes and can adapt to climate change.
3. Running a public awareness campaign so people appreciate the valueo of our seas, realise that marine biodiversity loss is a huge problem and are empowered to contribute to the creation of more sites, site restoration, protection and management.
Well chosen and managed MPAs have a wealth of seaweed, fish and shellfish which can sustain tourism, contribute towards sustainable fishing and alleviating climate change.
What can you do to help?
You can join the coalition of organisations and individuals who share our goals and you can add your voice to the creation of more offshore MPAs &/or your knowledge to identify missing links in the network of inshore sites.
Is there a coastal site you would like to monitor or report on in the Coastwatch survey?