FAIR SEAS WELCOMES NEW MEASURES TO PROTECT DUNDALK BAY
Fair Seas welcomes new measures to protect Dundalk Bay. The coalition group, Fair Seas, is welcoming the confirmation that Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Charlie McConalogue has signed off on fisheries management measures for Dundalk Bay SAC. The Fisheries Natura Declarations set out a number of prohibitions and restrictions in a small area inside the bay which is mapped out on the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority website.
The first declaration prohibits fishing with specified types of fishing gear including dredges, beam trawls and bottom otter trawls. It also sets out monitoring requirements for certain sea-fishing boats operating in Dundalk Bay, which is inside Ireland’s Natura 2000 network. The second declaration sets restrictions on fishing, dredging and hand gathering in the bay.
Fair Seas have been calling on the Government to introduce ambitious and fit for purpose Marine Protected Area (MPA) legislation which will allow the State to meet its national, EU and international commitments of designating 30% of its sea as a Marine Protected Area by 2030, including a 10% strict protection commitment.
However, the group has also made it clear that as well as new national MPA legislation, Ireland must fully implement existing EU law and introduce robust and effective management, as well as monitoring and enforcement into Ireland’s existing MPA network of Natura 2000 sites.
Dr. Donal Griffin, Marine Policy Officer with Fair Seas said:
“We are delighted that Minister McConalogue and DHLGH are progressing fisheries management measures inside Ireland’s Natura 2000 network, in this instance, the Dundalk Bay SAC. This area is designated to protect estuaries, mudflats and sandflats not covered by seawater at low tide, perennial vegetation of stony banks, Salicornia and other annuals colonising mud and sand, Atlantic salt meadows, and Mediterranean salt meadows. Ireland currently has approximately 9% of its seas designated as an MPA, predominantly consisting of the Natura 2000 network made up of SACs and SPAs derived under EU law. However, the management of our current MPA network is lacking. This is why the introduction of new Natura 2000 fisheries management measures are so vitally important if we are to hit not only our biodiversity targets in terms of quantity, the 30% target, but also in terms of quality, having protected sites at sea which are properly protecting nature inside their boundaries.”
Dr. Griffin added:
“A recent EU court decision made it clear that Ireland has systematically failed to introduce satisfactory conservation measures in Ireland’s Natura 2000 network, including those at sea, so the more Fisheries Natura Declarations and conservation measures such as this one in Dundalk Bay implemented in our Natura 2000 network, the better and more quickly marine biodiversity in those areas will begin to survive and thrive.”
Fair Seas estimates that €55 million will be needed to adequately fund MPA designation and ongoing management until 2030. In recent weeks the organisation published the ‘Sustainably Financing Ireland’s Marine Protected Area Network‘ report which shows that approximately €7 million would be required over the next 12 months to reach the target of fully protecting 10% of Ireland’s ocean and seas.
Fair Seas is also asking people to complete an online survey, answering questions about the health of Ireland’s marine environment, how they use the seas and what actions they believe the Irish government needs to be taking to manage this environment.
The Ocean Literacy Survey will remain open until the end of the summer. All information collected through the survey will be held securely and treated in the strictest confidence. It will take approximately 15 minutes to complete and consent can be withdrawn at any time. To take part visit the following link: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/OceanConnectionsFairSeas