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Ireland's Marine Protected Areas poised to expand

Words: Roger Milne
Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland / iStock-165090201

The Irish state has begun consulting on the future expansion of Ireland’s network of marine protected areas (MPAs).

Ministers have made it clear that Ireland aims to meet the UN sustainable development goal of 10 per cent of its maritime area subject to safeguards as soon as possible, achieving 30 per cent coverage by 2030.

According to the National Parks & Wildlife Service the country has nearly 80 MPAs at present.

These include such marine habitats as estuaries, large shallow inlets and bays, mudflats and sandflats not covered by seawater at high tide, reefs, sandbanks that are slightly covered by seawater at all times and submerged or partly submerged sea caves.

Ireland does not currently have the powers to legally underpin marine protected areas established to fulfil commitments under international conventions. Like other countries it has made use of the Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) regime to help establish MPAs.

Planning minister Darragh O’Brien commented: “This represents the first stage of a broader, comprehensive consultation process on marine protected areas which will continue in the coming months and which we committed to get under way in the first 100 days of government.”

Image credit | iStock