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Government urged to protect Irish ocean before summer

Fair Seas is urging the government to use the remaining 25 days of this Dáil term to introduce new laws protecting Ireland’s seas and coastlines. The group of leading environmental non-governmental organisations wants to see robust legislation on Marine Protected Areas  (MPAs) in place before the summer recess.

MPAs are areas of seas and coastlines that are legally protected from activities that damage the habitats, wildlife and natural processes that occur there. Fair Seas says the legislation is vital to help Ireland meet its obligations under an international agreement to protect or conserve at least 30% of the planet’s land and ocean by 2030.

It is over 20 months since the Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Bill was first listed by the government as priority legislation, but the bill itself still hasn’t been published. Fair Seas Campaign Coordinator Dr Donal Griffin says despite the disappointing delays to date, there is still time to act before the summer: “This is a once in a generation opportunity to properly conserve and restore Irish waters by addressing biodiversity loss and decline. It’s crucial for meeting our international obligations but it’s also a vital part of protecting our local marine biodiversity, coastal communities and culture.”

“We have less than a month’s worth of Dáil proceedings left at this stage and we’ll be facing a general election in the spring at the latest, so the next term’s schedule is going to be packed. We’ve been waiting for progress on this for over a year now so we’re urging the government not to miss another deadline and to put the remaining Dáil days to good use by getting it through the Oireachtas before the summer break”

Fair Seas is now inviting its supporters to write to Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’ Brien TD and the Minister of State at the Department Malcolm Noonan TD via its website, calling on them to prioritise the issue.  Communications Officer with Fair Seas Jack O’Donovan Trá explains why they’ve taken the action:

 “The reality is that virtually none of Ireland’s seas are adequately protected. A lack of effective management has led to widespread habitat loss and a sharp decline in marine biodiversity, and some of our iconic species like the Atlantic puffin and angel shark are at serious risk of extinction. We know this matters to people – our own petition gathered over 53,000 signatures calling on the government to take urgent action – and we need to know it matters to the government too. We’re urging communities to use their voice to ensure our government commits to having healthy seas for future generations”.

Full details of the letter Fair Seas wants supporters to send to the Ministers, and information on its campaigns are at fairseas.ie.