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Marine Protected Areas Must Not Be Decided Only By Civil Servants

16th January 2022
What will be the effect of Marine Protected Areas on sailing?
What will be the effect of Marine Protected Areas on sailing? Credit: Bob Bateman

Where will marine protected areas and marine conservation zones be located in Irish coastal waters and what effects will they have on sailing, watersports generally, angling, commercial fishing, shipping?

The Marine Environment Section in the Water Division of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage appears to be the ‘lead’ in decision-making about the location of these areas, on which work is underway this month, following the passing of the Marine Areas Planning Bill by the Oireachtas in mid-December. This Department described the passing of that Bill as “the biggest reform of marine governance since the foundation of the State.”

Another State agency, MARA, is being set up which will focus on offshore wind projects, water and wastewater infrastructure, bridges, marinas, coastal protection works, flood relief works and undersea telecommunications cables and power interconnectors. As far as I can determine at present, there 27 offshore wind farms planned for Irish coastal waters. Already there have been threats of legal action from commercial interests against some effects of the new Marine Planning Bill.

Who will decide the Marine Protected Areas?Who will decide the Marine Protected Areas?

On my Podcast this week, I’m focusing on how decisions will be made about the marine protected areas. In an island nation, the Department of the Marine does not have the leading role in making major maritime decisions. The Chief Executive of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, a strong voice about the marine environment, says that “distant civil servants” not be allowed “foist these new designations” upon the maritime community.

Listen to the Podcast here

Tom MacSweeney

About The Author

Tom MacSweeney

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Tom MacSweeney writes a weekly column for Afloat.ie. He presents the monthly programme Maritime Ireland on Podcast services and Irish radio stations.

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