There is strong support for more legal protection for Irish waters according to a coalition of Ireland’s leading environmental non-governmental organisations and networks. Fair Seas has revealed details of its survey conducted to learn about the connection Irish people have with the sea.

The research shows that 31% of people believe that Irish seas are healthy and that 67% of people believe the health of Irish seas has worsened in the past ten years.



Understanding of Marine Protected Areas

The poll reveals that 45% of people know what a Marine Protected Area (MPA) is, up from 37% of people at the start of this year. It also shows strong support for additional protections with four out of five people saying they would support a campaign to protect more of our seas.

Fair Seas is calling on the Government to designate a minimum of 30% of Irish waters as MPAs by 2030. Currently, just 2% of Irish waters are protected.

Some of the findings include:

  • One-third (31%) of people surveyed believe Irish seas are healthy
  • Two-thirds of people (67%) believe Irish seas have worsened in the past decade.
  • Almost half of people surveyed (45%) say they know what a Marine Protected Area is, up from 37% in February
  • A majority of people (81%) agree with more legal protection for our seas
  • Four out of five people (80%) would support a campaign for more legal protection
  • More than three-quarters of people (77%) say they understand the importance of healthy seas
  • More than half (53%) would be more likely to visit an area if it was declared a Marine Protected Area

Government has committed to protecting 30% of waters before 2030

Aoife O’ Mahony, Campaign Manager for Fair Seas said, “This is the second time we’ve surveyed people across the country for their views about protecting our seas. It shows that very few people are satisfied with the health of Irish waters and that the vast majority of people are in favour of additional legal protection. The Government has committed to protecting 30% of our waters before 2030. However, that’s less than eight years away, we need to act now to restore critical habitats, safeguard wildlife and help address the climate crisis.” 

Dr Donal Griffin, Marine Policy officer with Fair Seas added, “Marine Protected Areas are like a National Park in the ocean and are an important conservation tool to help improve the health of our ocean. It is only when areas designated for nature are properly managed and are achieving their conservation objectives, that they positively contribute to tackling biodiversity loss.”

Fair Seas published a report in June 2022 identifying 16 ‘Areas of Interest’ for MPA designation in Irish waters. The locations are home to critically endangered sharks, globally important seabird colonies, and animals threatened with extinction which rely on these areas for breeding and feeding such as Atlantic puffins and blue whales.

The full press release from Fair Seas can be read here.

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