Opinion: Fair Seas – Ireland’s new campaign to improve ocean health
25 February 2022
A Marine Protected Area or ‘MPA’ is a vital tool in improving ocean health. MPAs are being created by nations across the globe to help fight against climate change and protect biodiversity. So given their importance and the ecological crises we find ourselves in, why does Ireland have only 2% of its waters within Marine Protected Areas, and what is being done about it?
The health of all life on Earth relies on a healthy ocean. The ocean covers 70% of our planet and produces over 50% of the oxygen we breathe. That means that every second breath you draw into your lungs comes from the ocean.
Globally ocean health is under severe pressure from human activities and climate change. Ocean biodiversity is declining all over the world.
However, there is a growing movement to stop this decline and start to reverse it.
Fair Seas is a new campaign that is building a movement of ocean stewardship across the island of Ireland. Their aim is to see Ireland, with a renewed appreciation of the ocean, become a world leader in marine protection, giving our species, habitats and coastal communities the opportunity to thrive.
A Marine Protected Area (MPA) is a part of the ocean that is protected by laws to conserve species, habitats and ecosystems. They play a critical role in improving ocean health. They help to limit damaging activities and can allow habits, wildlife and commercially important fish stocks to recover.
Unfortunately, Ireland has only just over 2% of its waters protected through international obligation, but in reality there is no management or monitoring in place to actually protect these areas. In fact there isn’t even a definition of MPA in Irish law. That’s why Fair Seas is urgently asking the Irish government to create robust and ambitious legislation so that our waters can be effectively protected, managed and monitored right out to the edge of the continental shelf.
Fair Seas is calling for at least 30% of Irish waters to be designated as ‘Fully Protected’ by 2030.
“In January 2022 Ireland showed its passion for the ocean by speaking out against Russian missile testing. Voices from the fishing industry, government, environmental groups and the public were all echoing the need to protect our marine biodiversity and commercially important fish stocks,” our campaign manager Aoife O’Mahony said at the launch of our campaign.
“Fair Seas is calling on those same voices to ask the Irish government to follow up and secure a network of effective well-managed Marine Protected Areas,” she added.
By Jack O’Donovan Trá, Communications Officer at Fair Seas
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