Press Release: 86% of Irish people support stricter protection of Marine Protected Areas

Jun 25

Press Release


86% of Irish people support stricter protection of Marine Protected Areas


25 June 2024


New polls released today show that 86% of citizens across 7 EU countries expect their political leaders to prioritise the protection of marine biodiversity.

An independent polling company interviewed approximately 1000 people in each of the 7 EU countries asking questions about marine conservation. Irelands results show a higher than average public attitude to see our waters effectively protected. 86% out of 1,001 Irish citizens surveyed said they would support stricter legislation to protect Marine Protected Areas and 78% would support a ban on bottom trawling within these areas. Bottom trawling is a fishing method that involves one or more boats pulling heavy fishing nets along the ocean floor in an effort to catch fish and other marine species. It is one of the most destructive and indiscriminate fishing methods, resulting in ecosystem loss, the release of carbon stored in the seabed, and high levels of bycatch and fish discards. Only 31% of Irish people believe that the current legislation effectively protects the oceans with 88% saying that politicians should give higher priority to marine biodiversity.

Some other key insights across the EU show that 90% of people believe MPAs are essential for preserving marine biodiversity and 73% would support a ban on bottom trawling in MPAs. Post EU elections, this is a clear message to the new European Commission and to new Members of the European Parliament, to put ocean issues at the heart of their mandates.


Grace Carr, Marine Advocacy officer with The Irish Wildlife Trust, said: “Bottom trawling is one of the most destructive human activities in the ocean. If we were to bulldoze through forests completely destroying and killing everything in our path, people would not put up with it. Because this happens under water, where it is out of sight and out of mind, it often gets overlooked. These polls show that Irish citizens care about our waters and want to see them effectively protected and Irish politicians at home and at EU level should take heed of this real concern.

EU polls were conducted in April 2024 by independent polling agency Sapience [1], who polled approximately 1000 people each in Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and The Netherlands, representative of national populations. 

Contact: Grace Carr, Marine Advocacy Officer,


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