How can we improve the health of our seas? Public consultation on Ireland’s Marine Strategy now open

Notice

How can we improve the health of our seas? Public consultation on Ireland’s Marine Strategy now open

Deadline to make submissions: 5pm on Friday 20th May 2022

The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage has opened a public consultation on Ireland’s Marine Strategy.

They’re inviting observations, views and comments on the review and development of Ireland’s Marine Strategy Part 3: Programme of Measures, under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD, 2008/56/EC).

Ireland’s Programme of Measures will be developed to ensure we have clean, healthy, biologically diverse and sustainably used, marine waters.

The sea that surrounds us is part of our history, our culture, our economy and our way of life. We rely on it for food, to help regulate our climate, for energy and raw materials, as a source of recreation (including angling) and inspiration and to support jobs. It is home to a vast range of marine biodiversity and contains globally important populations of many marine species.

The evidence is clear. Scientists around the world conclude that the health of the ocean, including the North Atlantic, is at risk and that action is needed to address the loss of biodiversity and the functioning of the marine ecosystems.

Challenges include:

  • pollution
  • over-exploitation of living resources
  • incidental by-catch
  • non-indigenous species
  • underwater noise
  • damage to the seabed.

Marine litter, including microplastics, continues to blight our seas and cause impacts on the marine environment.

Climate change is also causing fundamental and possibly irreversible changes to the ocean. These changes include warming of the sea, rising sea levels and loss of oxygen. Increased levels of carbon dioxide are also causing the ocean to become more acidic.

The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) is the mechanism by which EU Member States set policy on the marine environment and, amongst other things, take action to tackle these challenges and achieve a clean, healthy, biologically diverse and sustainably used marine environment. Within the Directive this is known as good environmental status (GES).

Core to the work of achieving the goal of good environmental status is ensuring that interested parties (the public, stakeholders, maritime sectors and others) have the chance to participate in the process. This consultation forms part of that participation and focuses specifically on the measures Ireland intends to put in place to achieve good environmental status.

In 2020, Ireland updated its environmental targets from 2013 to describe what a healthy sea should look like. The actions (known as the programme of measures or PoM) Ireland proposes to put in place are designed to meet these targets.

These environmental targets form part of the National Marine Planning Framework and through its implementation aim to ensure that human activity is at sustainable levels and that the ecosystem is protected.

One measure, which is specifically required under the Directive, is the development of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Stand-alone legislation to enable the identification, designation and management of MPAs in accordance with Ireland’s national and international commitments is ongoing. 

The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage is inviting consultation on the revision of the Programme of Measures to give everyone the chance propose new measures to sustain and improve the health of our seas.

Their online survey can be found here and the deadline for submissions is 5pm on Friday, May 20th 2022.

The full notice for this public consultation can be found on the www.Gov.ie.