Fair Seas

Fair Seas is a coalition of Ireland’s leading eNGO’s and environmental networks. The Irish Wildlife Trust is a proud member of this new coalition. We are working together to make sure 30% of Irish waters are fully protected by 2030. This is our greatest chance at restoring ocean health and we must act now.

What is an Marine Protected Area (MPA)?

Fair Seas considers a Marine Protected Area (MPA) to be “a geographically defined area of marine character or influence which is protected through legal means for the purpose of the conservation and or restoration of biodiversity (species, habitats or ecosystems) and their associated ecosystem services, processes and cultural values, and managed with the intention of achieving stated conservation objectives”. Currently Ireland does not have a legal definition of an MPA and Fair Seas is working to change this.

Ireland is home to a huge range of marine species from tiny forage fish, rare seabirds, huge whales and endangered sharks. It is also a life saving refuge full of feeding opportunities for migrating animals passing through. The second largest animal to ever exist on earth – the fin whale – is frequently seen in Irish waters, along with the second largest fish in the world – the recently protected basking shark. Areas of the coast of Ireland are important feeding and mating grounds for this magnificent fish. The waters around Ireland also have extremely important and delicate habitats such as kelp forests and cold water corals. All these species and habitats are reasons why its so important to designate more MPA’s around Ireland.

 SAC, SPA, MPA… So what do they all mean?

You may have seen protected areas described in several different ways. Currently Ireland is able to designate Special Areas of Conservation (SAC’s) and Special Protected Areas (SPA’s) under the EU Habitats and Birds Directives and these are the only legal protection available between 12 nautical miles and 200 nautical miles from the Irish coast. Unfortunately, both SPA’s and SAC’s are limited in what they can provide protection for. The list of habitats and species which are contained within the EU Habitats and Birds directive is non-exhaustive and have specific conservation objectives. This is why it is so important to obtain national MPA legislation and create a network of MPA’s which will protect entire ecosystems.


Revitalising Our Seas is a report by Fair Seas, identifying areas of interest (AOI) for Marine Protected Area designation in Irish Waters.  This report states that Ireland’s MPA’s must increase 18-fold by the end of the decade in order to restore critical habitats and address the climate emergency. Read the full report online here or look at our blogs of each AOI.

 A White Paper

The Irish Government is currently drafting new MPA legislation which will allow it to unilaterally designate and manage new national MPAs. Ensuring this new legislation is effective, ambitious, and robust is a core objective of the Fair Seas campaign. Fair Seas has created a summary of our Key Asks of the legislation in this White Paper. The new legislation must include our key asks and recommendations if it is to actually deliver on restoring our native species and habitats while providing essential benefits to society.








A Legal Handbook

Fair Seas have published the second edition of  Expanding Ireland’s Marine Protected Areas – A Legal Handbook written by Sarah Ryan Enright. We hope this guide will positively inform and engage those outside the legislative framework with the relevant marine directives and legislation, definitions of current protections, international examples, core principles and key targets with which successful new legislation must add to and account for.

MPA Finance Report

Fair Seas have produced the first of its kind MPA Finance Report in Europe. This report highlights the cost to conserve and restore the vital marine ecosystems we rely on.

The report is available to read here


Stakeholder engagement

We want to build a movement of ocean stewardship across our island nation. We think everyone should feel empowered to campaign for ambitious and robust legislation for MPA’s. Here are some videos of real people around Ireland and what they think of MPA’s. This platform allows stakeholders to speak of their experiences, concerns and hopes for Irish waters. As part of our engagement with coastal communities we have also made two short films, one in Kerry and one in Sligo & Donegal. Keep an eye on Fair Seas social media accounts for live and online screening dates in 2023.

A Letter from the Sea by Fair Seas

A letter from the sea narrated by Dr. Tara Shine.

How well do you know Ireland’s seas?

Fair Seas have launched an Ocean Literacy Survey to find out how well the Irish people know our seas. The survey asks questions about the health of the marine environment, how you use the seas and what they mean to you. It will help give an insight to our individual and collective impact on the ocean and its impact on our lives.

Topics include:

  • How important the ocean is to people
  • Where people’s knowledge about the marine environment comes from
  • If the marine environment has changed over the last decade
  • What activities they’ve done to protect the marine environment
  • The impact their lifestyle has on the marine environment
  • How much time they spend by the sea

Fill in the survey here


‘Greater Skellig Coast’ Hope Spot is Ireland’s first Mission Blue Hope Spot

A large area of ocean off the south west coast of Ireland covering roughly 7,000km2 has been added to a list of ‘Hope Spots’ by the global marine conservation movement Mission Blue.  Mission Blue was founded in 2009 by Dr. Sylvia Earl and aims to inspire public awareness on the need for a global network of Marine Protected Areas. Hope Spots are special places that are scientifically identified as critical to the health of the ocean and there are now 148 Hope Spots across the globe (including the Galápagos Islands and the Great Barrier Reef). Some locations are already formally protected, while others still need defined protection.

Dr. Sylvia Earle, Founder of Mission Blue says, “This Hope Spot is being announced at a crucial time for Ireland because in 2023, new national Marine Protected Area (MPA) legislation will be introduced for the first time. 81% of Irish people believe that we need to protect, conserve and restore the ocean. This legislation will help achieve this very desirable protection.”

News and Blogs 

To get involved sign up to Fair Seas Newsletter to receive the latest ocean updates, actions and events. Make sure to follow Fair Seas on social media and please share the great content with others you feel would be interested. You can follow Fair Seas on  FacebookTwitterInstagramLinked’InYouTube

Fair Seas Conference

Fair Seas first World Ocean Day Conference took place on June 8th at Cork City Hall with the aim of bringing people into the one room to discuss Ireland’s highly anticipated MPA legislation. The conference was a great success with talks from ocean experts from around the globe. Read the blogs below for more insight into the day.

Session One: Healthy Seas, how are we fairing?

Session Two: Delivering transformational change for MPA management

Session Three: Harnessing stakeholder involvement for better MPA outcomes