Take action on marine protection: Participate in the public consultation on Marine Protected Areas in Ireland!

Participate in the public consultation on the report

‘Expanding Ireland’s Marine Protected Area Network’*



*This consultation has now ended. If you would like to be kept up-to-date with news around MPAs in Ireland, you can sign up to our newsletter via this link: http://eepurl.com/gutZlj 






Currently, only around 2% of Irish seas are nominally protected, even though the government had committed to protecting 10% of the Irish marine region by 2020. Now, the Irish government has committed to expanding its network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to cover at least 30% of its marine region by 2030, in line with the EU Biodiversity Strategy. In order to inform the process of MPA designations, the Irish government has opened a public consultation on a report that outlines how to expand Ireland’s network of MPAs. The 200 page report (+annexes) was written by a group of academics and MPA experts who have many years experience in this field.

Why does it matter?

MPAs are now more important than ever – sealife faces many threats from fishing with harmful gear to intensive aquaculture, pollution and climate change. We want the Irish government to achieve their target of protecting at least 30% of Irish seas by 2030 in a network of highly protected areas that are coherent, representative, connected and resilient. For this, the government must implement the advice of their own MPA expert group. We want to make sure that the public is as engaged in this consultation process as possible and will hold the government to account should they fail to deliver on marine protection once again.

Tell me more about the MPA report

What the MPA report is about

The expert advisory group has delivered a very detailed and informative report. In it, the group explains the current degraded status of Ireland’s marine environment compared to historic baselines, identifies benefits and socioeconomic impacts of MPAs and sets out a clear path to expanding Ireland’s network of protected areas. The report also suggests a definition of a marine protected area which is to be enshrined in Irish law for the first time.

What we think of it

We support most of the recommendations in the report. In particular, we support the

  • Systematic Conservation Planning approach described in the report
  • establishment of a national coordinating body to coordinate the planning and implementation of MPAs
  • emphasis on the importance of early and sustained stakeholder engagement throughout the MPA designation and management processes

Read more

There are a few things we would have wished to see more of in the report, and those include

  • a clear recommendation that all new MPAs must be highly protected areas that are in line with IUCN guidelines (i.e. industrial and harmful human activities are restricted)
  • more emphasis on the need for a ‘whole-site’ approach rather than the ‘feature-based’ approach which has been used with limited success in current MPAs
  • more emphasis on the urgency with which the government must now act. New primary legislation will be needed to designate new MPAs and Ireland will need to negotiate fishing access inside MPAs with other EU member states. Both of these processes may take many years and the government wants to increase MPA coverage 10-fold by 2030! Time is of the essence.

Sounds good, I want to act!


Step 1: Respond to the public consultation

There are two options to respond to the consultation:

Option 1: Write an email to marine.env@housing.gov.ie with the subject line ‘MPA Public Consultation 2021’. Have a look at our text below for inspiration but if possible, personalise the message to make more of an impact.

You are welcome to read our full submission to the MPA report consultation here: IWT submission to Expanding Ireland’s Marine Protected Area Network

Our text suggestion:

Re: Public consultation on ‘Expanding Ireland’s Network of Marine Protected Areas’

I support the expert report and hope that the recommendations are swiftly implemented.

Furthermore, I want:

  • Immediate action to protect existing Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas
  • No industrial fishing in MPAs – and especially no bottom-towed gears
  • 30% protection by 2030 as the minimum target
  • Investment in data gathering
  • Support for fishing communities that may be negatively impacted by MPAs
  • All MPAs to be actively managed with public participation

Option 2: you can click here to open the public consultation’s website in order to fill in an anonymous survey. You can also download the full MPA report on this page.

Step 2: If you took part in the consultation, please tell us by filling out the quick form below.

Thank you for taking the time to participate.



Step 3: Tell your friends about the consultation by sharing this page at the links below 👇