New Spot of Hope for Ireland’s Ocean Conservation Movement
Ireland is home to a newly designated ‘Hope Spot’ off the Greater Skellig Coast in an area noted to have high conservation value for biodiversity.
Hope Spots are scientifically identified as critical to the health of the ocean and designated by the global marine conservation movement Mission Blue. The Greater Skellig Coast stretches from Kenmare Bay in Co Kerry to Loop Head in Co Clare and covers an area of roughly 7,000km2 of Irish coastal waters.
Led by oceanographer and author Dr. Sylvia Earl, Mission Blue now has listed 148 Hope Spots globally. Through designations of special places for conservation it seeks to inspire public awareness and support for a worldwide network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
“This Hope Spot is being announced at a crucial time for Ireland because in 2023, new national Marine Protected Area 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”, said Dr. Sylvia Earle, Founder of Mission Blue.
The Greater Skellig Coast is one of 16 ‘Areas of Interest’ identified for possible Marine Protected Area designation by Fair Seas, a coalition of environmental non-governmental organisations and networks in Ireland, with the support of Sea Synergy, a marine awareness and activity centre based in Kerry.
“The Hope Spot designation confirms what we already knew in Co Kerry and Co Clare, that the ocean is critically important. It’s my wish that this designation will help inspire people to take a closer look at what the ocean offers and that we will see more Hope Spots and action to live in harmony with Ireland’s ocean”, said Lucy Hunt, Founder of Sea Synergy.
“This global recognition is even more critical now as we finalise our own national MPA legislation in Ireland. We have one chance to do this right and we owe it to the next generation to do this well,” said Aoife O’ Mahony, Campaign Manager for Fair Seas.
Fair Seas has been campaigning for Ireland to protect at least 30% of Irish waters as Marine Protected Areas by 2030, in line with a worldwide 30×30 initiative calling for governments to protect 30% of Earth’s land and ocean by 2030.
The General Scheme of Ireland’s new Marine Protected Area (MPA) legislation was published in December 2022 and will head next to committee pre-legislative scrutiny in the Oireachtas.