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Plans for up to 30% of Irish waters to be designated as marine protected areas

Legislation will aim to provide the State with powers to help address biodiversity loss and climate change by conserving marine ecosystems.
Aug 5th 2022, 3:05 PM 10,551 17

PLANS ARE IN motion to have up to 30% of Ireland’s maritime territory designated as marine protected areas by 2030.

The government today secured approval for the scheme of a bill to enable the designation and management of marine protected areas in Irish waters. These areas would then have a level of protection for conservation purposes.

The goal of the legislation is to provide for the identification, designation, regulation, management, enforcement and review of marine protected areas.

Heritage minister Darragh O’Brien said the initiative aims to ensure Ireland’s seas “remain clean, healthy and productive” and habitats and biodiversity are protected.

“As an island nation, our seas and our ocean are absolutely crucial for Ireland. They support our economy, inward and outward trade, our energy supply and communications systems, as well as our climate, our environment, our cultural traditions and heritage, our health and well-being,” O’Brien said.

Junior heritage minister Malcolm Noonan said the legislation will aim to provide the State with strong powers to help address biodiversity loss and climate change by protecting and conserving marine ecosystems.

“In the context of energy security and the ramping up of Ireland’s offshore renewable energy ambitions, it’s all the more important that we work at pace to deliver on our commitment to meeting both biodiversity and climate objectives,” Noonan said.

The Bill will also make provisions for public and stakeholder participation in the process and will allow for implementation and enforcement structures.

The 2020 Programme for Government included a commitment to expand Ireland’s network of marine protected areas to 10% of its maritime area as soon as is practical, aiming for 30% coverage by 2030.

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Céimin Burke

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