Dear Sea Anglers,
My name is Ashley Hayden, I wish to gain support for the establishment of a "Community Managed Marine Conservation Zone" off North County Wicklow between Bray Head and Wicklow Head as a pilot project regarding the development of future best practice methodologies for national inshore sea fisheries management.
I seek to promote the above initiative to counteract and change for the better out dated national sea fisheries management practices and legislation which have rendered the seas off county Wicklow today a desert from what was within my lifetime a garden of Eden, please note I am only 55 years of age.
When I was a teenager in the 1970's 17 species of fish swam in the waters off North County Wicklow which grew to Irish rod and line specimen weight, today only five still grow to specimen weight (Ref: Irish Specimen Fish Committee Reports) while 12 have either disappeared completely or fail to reach maturity. The subsequent environmental imbalance for those who know how things used to be has proved catastrophic and needs to be addressed.
Allow me to explain:
My family roots lie firmly in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, a once thriving fishing village situated 25 miles south of Dublin city on Ireland's east coast. I possess direct experiential knowledge of the offshore fishing grounds comprising the Moulditch Ridge, Kilcoole Bank and the Breaches Shoal (all located south and east of Greystones) dating back to the late 1960's,
I am familiar with the local marine traditions and I am fully aware what has been lost due exclusively to bad fisheries management decisions encapsulated by habitat destruction the resultant of licenced inshore bottom mussel dredging which commenced back in the early 1980's in conjunction with commercial over fishing within the Irish Sea.
I have a vision to establish a "community driven" Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) between Bray Head ( to the north) and Wicklow Head (to the south) encapsulating both holistic and socio - economic principles.
Why between Bray Head and Wicklow Head? Because these are my home waters which I have direct experience of.
Best practice would suggest that the process to achieve this viable proposal will require most likely the setting up of a "driver organisation" possibly a registered charity with philanthropic and or EU funding to underpin it linked to a campaign ran by the wider local community while being supported by the state, which will include all vested interests and not just a narrow "marine" focus.
The MCZ will be for "all" the people locally, nationally and from abroad.
The MCZ will act as a pilot project which if successful can then be incorporated as a modal for best practice inshore fisheries management and subsequently rolled out nationally.
I envisage that:
(1). Management of the MCZ will include an academic research mandate to aid "best management practice" as well as to further progress marine scientific knowledge.
(2). That the inshore/offshore MCZ will be an extension of the Wicklow National Park so making the County not only unique nationally but also internationally.
(3). That the MCZ will extend out to the old three mile limit and its northern and southern limit will be designated by a virtual extension of the respective county boundaries.
(4). That the MCZ will not be exclusively "no take" but will allow sustainable commercial artisan fishing methodologies, recreational sea angling and a variety of water sports and activities under a progressive management plan aimed to encourage local business and employment opportunities while both rehabilitating and preserving the integrity ongoing of North Wicklow's offshore environment.
(5). That within the MCZ though there will be areas designated as "No Take" for both scientific and "spill over" purposes.
(6). That when established in time the MCZ will garner enormous credibility for Co. Wicklow internationally, will underpin efforts to maintain and increase onshore and offshore biodiversity, will resurrect a now defunct local artisan commercial fishing industry, will enable Co. Wicklow to market an International standard tourism sea angling product and will act as a catalyst for marine cultural, heritage, tourism, educational and recreational activities such as diving, sea kayaking, natural history engagement and small boat hire.
In short the investment in time and effort will be returned many fold.
I am proposing that the vision is worth adopting because:
(1). It will be a unique step for a county (public and private entities) to recognise and claim ownership of an offshore coastal resource with a view to managing its usage and future rehabilitation/development as an integral and symbiotic element of onshore socio -economic development.
(2). Rehabilitation of the inshore benthic habitats off Co. Wicklow will enable the county to market and sell itself abroad internationally as a local community that really cares for and understands the socio - economic benefits of pristine natural environments.
(3). That the County Council supported by Public and Private interests can lead the way in proposing and developing a forward thinking "coastal county by coastal county" approach to national inshore fisheries management where community and state Dept's/Agencies work side by side to manage and develop "their inshore/offshore patch" collectively on behalf of the nation.
My initial goal for 2016 is to get the project live within the local/national population's mind, to gain support at local/national decision maker level and to develop a directional plan for the project.
Support for the vision from the wider sea angling community would I believe go a long way towards highlighting an important environmental issue, both locally and nationally, while also sparking debate towards how Ireland should manage its inshore fisheries for the benefit of all the people of the nation into the future as against the current narrow focus that pertains at present.
To date I have written to a variety of decision makers at local and national level who potentially could make a difference, the Green Party, Wicklow County Council and some academics have responded and set up meetings to flesh out my proposal, these will occur over the fortnight subsequent to this posts date.
My website http://www.anirishanglersworld.com
has plenty of information on marine environmental decline off North County Wicklow (see the marine conservation section).
As a short cut click on the following link: http://www.anirishanglersworld.com/inde ... mic-modal/
Click also on: http://www.anirishanglersworld.com/inde ... -kilcoole/
Recognition as an individual or club for the vision through the Sea Angling Ireland site would help gauge the level of support out there.
Support and further contribution(s) to the vision are welcome, the substance of the idea is not set in stone, it is just a starting point for change and marine rehabilitation.