#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 18°C Monday 21 June 2021
Advertisement

New legislation aims to make 'threatened' basking sharks a protected species in Ireland

The world’s second-largest fish is a frequent visitor to Irish shores.

Image: Shutterstock/Simon Burt

NEW LEGISLATION HAS been tabled in the Dáil that would amend the Wildlife Act to give basking sharks protected status in Ireland.

The world’s second-largest fish is a frequent visitor to Irish shores, particularly along southern and western coasts between April and August.

Recent studies have suggested that Ireland could be home to up to 20% of the world’s basking shark population at any one time, with Cork, Kerry, Clare, Mayo and Donegal among the main hotspots for the fish in the northeast Atlantic.

However, despite being considered ‘threatened’ by conservationists, basking sharks are currently not a protected species in Ireland.

They are under threat from boat strikes, harassment by recreational boat users and habitat alteration through the development of large-scale infrastructure.

Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore today introduced a bill in the Oireachtas that would change this and make it illegal for anyone to intentionally or recklessly injure or harass them off Irish coasts.

Whitmore, a former marine biologist, said Ireland was “blessed” to have basking sharks come to its shores every year.

“We have a deep cultural connection to this animal and it is often a symbol of our indigenous maritime life,” she told the Dáil today.

“It represents the mysterious nature of our marine waters and continues to mystify us as we actually know just a small amount about this creature.”

Whitmore noted that basking sharks are protected by international treaties and legislation in other jurisdictions, including the UK, and called for Ireland to follow suit.

#Open journalism No news is bad news Support The Journal

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support us now

“The Government must list this species as protected and encourage its protection to the fullest extent possible,” she added.

“It is a simple legislative change but it could be a matter of life and death for basking sharks.

“We need to treasure our natural heritage, our biodiversity and our own iconic species, and afford basking shark the same protections that other countries afford them.”

Read next:

COMMENTS (22)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel