Add your name to call on Minister Darragh O’Brien and the Irish government to enact a strong marine protected area law without delay.
Why does it matter?
Life in Ireland’s ocean is at a crisis point. Marine biodiversity is rapidly declining and the numbers of Ireland’s iconic marine species are plummeting. The now critically endangered angel shark has suffered a staggering 90% population decline since the early 1900s, while Ireland's seabirds are more endangered than ever, with the puffin under serious threat of extinction.
Existing protected area designations are not working. Recent assessments indicate that 65% of Ireland’s coastal habitat types are ecologically unhealthy. Many Irish bays and estuaries have deteriorated significantly in recent years despite falling within protected areas.
Failing to address marine biodiversity loss will guarantee long-term negative impacts on the health and sustainability of the ocean, as well as the social and economic health of communities across Ireland.
The Irish government needs to act with urgency and ambition by delivering a strong national marine protected area (MPA) law to properly protect, conserve, and restore its waters.
The government has committed to protecting 30% of our seas by 2030, but with the new legislation delayed, there is now a serious risk that these targets will not be met.
Ireland’s new MPA legislation must include:
Ambitious and binding targets committing Ireland to effectively protect 30% of its seas as MPAs by 2030, including a target of 10% “strictly” protected.
A robust management framework which clearly defines:
What will be protected;
How it will be protected, and;
Which government agencies are responsible for implementation and management.
Community engagement at every stage of the MPA designation and management process, based on transparency, inclusiveness, and fairness among local, regional, and national stakeholders.
Draft MPA legislation was promised in July 2023, but there is still no sign of it, despite the fact that 98% of Irish people surveyed want to see more marine protected areas.
Why do we need marine protected areas?
Marine protected areas allow nature to recover. They act as safe havens for a diverse range of marine life, from whales, dolphins, and basking sharks, to commercially harvested fish, crabs, and lobsters.
Around the world, well-managed MPAs have proven to restore marine life, store carbon, and rebuild fish populations. Studies have shown that fish biomass increases by up to 670% within protected areas. These fish then spill over into adjacent waters, bolstering local stocks and boosting fisheries catches.
Human society relies heavily on a healthy ocean for the life-giving services it provides, not to mention that it generates over 50% of the oxygen we breathe.
Why does your support matter?
An overwhelming 76% of Irish people surveyed believe “a lack of political will” is what is getting in the way of creating effective marine protected areas.
Ireland was supposed to have 10% of its seas designated as marine protected areas by 2020 in line with national and EU commitments, yet nearly four years later, we are still missing that target, with only 9% of waters designated as protected. Even for the 9% of waters that are designated, there is little or no management in place.
We can't allow the government to delay this legislation any longer — the stakes are too high. We need your voice to make sure they know that people across the country are calling for this crucial marine protection law.
Add your name and call on Minister Darragh O’Brien and the Irish government to enact a strong marine protected area law that will safeguard the health and longevity of the marine environment for generations to come.