Bigger & Better

A marine protected area network for Ireland

Our Oceans are vast. Our Oceans are powerful. Our Oceans are beautiful. Our Oceans are changing.

Heavy human use of the marine environment has left our seas in a poor condition. Fishing and aquaculture are but two of the many stressors threatening marine ecosystems every day. Add climate change, noise, plastic and chemical pollution to the mix and you have a recipe for disaster.

Deep-sea crab, 700 meters depth in Irish waters

In order to avert this disaster, many international agreements were set up to better protect the environment. For example, Ireland signed the Convention on Biological Diversity thereby committing to protect 10% of our marine area by 2020. So far, we have protected only 2%.

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are a proven way to achieve much needed ecosystem restoration, sustainable fishing and climate change mitigation. In theory, MPAs provide safe havens for animals and plants to grow and reproduce without the threat of human activity. Such havens are vital if marine ecosystems are to withstand all the additional pressures they face day to day.

In practice, however, many harmful human activities are still taking place inside MPAs with little or no monitoring or enforcement. This needs to change.

We want real protection within Ireland’s marine area and we need bigger and better MPAs to achieve this.

For this purpose, we are working with Coastwatch and Seas at Risk as part of a larger European campaign. Together with partner organisations in Portugal (Sciaena) and France (FNE), we hope to preserve precious ecosystems in European waters for future generations. This will give our seas spaces to breathe while we work on reducing additional stressors such as climate change and pollution.

For questions about this project and what you can do to help our oceans, contact Regina Classen or sign up here to our Bigger and Better newsletter.