Marine Protected Areas - 2023/24 Discussion

Fri Mar 24, 2023 7:03 pm

Attended a stakeholder forum in Dublin (23/03/23) under the banner of Sea Angling Ireland.

This was a continuation of the process that began with video consultations in 2020 culminating with the publishing of the report on Marine Protected Areas: ... a-network/

Forum on: Ecological Sensitivity Analysis to inform Potential MPA in the Irish Sea.

The forum was to:
1) To inform you, as a key stakeholder identified by the Advisory Group, about the work that is under way including its scope, objectives, methods and progress;
2) To hear your views in relation to this Irish Sea project and any suggestions, concerns or other comments you would like to make;
3) To do so in an open and engaging manner, stimulating discussion with and among as many stakeholders as possible within the project’s commitments and timescale.

Ecological Sensitivity Analysis - to identify potential MPAs in the Irish Sea - There is a current project ongoing by which all sorts of data is fed into a modelling system and this modelling system will allow data to be represented graphically which in turn will identify areas of potential interest for MPA’s. Safe to say that his is an incredibly involved process that I am really simplifying it here.

This is NOT a process of MPA selection. It will inform MPA selection that will be undertaken under the new legislation, properly applying the processes that will be established in law.

I’ll summarise:

I outlined the wishes of anglers – That anglers are in a situation where angling is declining in terms of catch in both average size, numbers and species. That the only species doing well are species that have protection (I was not giving an opinion as to why). Anglers would like MPAs to provide the vehicle to improve the situation. In relation to the Irish Sea I spoke about the past glories of places like Greystones. The plaice fishing etc. The fishing on the offshore banks and compared this to the current situation.

Anglers would have a fear of being excluded from areas due to the designation of an MPA with stringent protection. (There are many different types of MPA).
That anglers voices will not be heard when it gets closer to actually designating areas as pressure/lobby groups get into swing and have louder voices….
That there would be pressure from EU etc. and that MPA’s would be rushed in without due consideration/consultation.

I summarised the Recreational Sea Angling sector as being a valuable one. Not just angling alone but its part in the tourism sector making a large contribution to the economy but also to the contribution to the overall wellbeing of participants and suchlike. I also pointed out how we are guardians of our environment as we represent “boots on the ground” and somewhat the “canary in the coalmine” as to when there are problems in the marine environment.

In the context of the forum, Inshore Fishermen have concerns about offshore windfarms, MPA’s and anything that might exclude them from their fishing grounds. They worry about lack of VMS data to prove their case.

This is an ongoing process. I don’t know how long it will all take but things are starting to move faster than before.

General Scheme of the Marine Protected Areas Bill 2023 is starting to pass through the Oireachtas

Re: Marine Protected Areas - 2023 Discussion

Sat Mar 25, 2023 12:44 pm

As this is a public access forum I edited for clarity.

Re: Marine Protected Areas - 2023 Discussion

Mon Apr 10, 2023 12:47 pm

Thanks for your work on this, Jim

Re: Marine Protected Areas - 2023 Discussion

Fri Apr 21, 2023 3:52 pm

Attended a Fair Seas webinar for divers.

Fair Seas: "We are a coalition of Ireland’s leading environmental non-governmental organisations (eNGOs) and environmental networks." ( )
They produced a report back last year about potential MPA's - ... _pages.pdf
The report caused some consternation in commercial fishing circles due to the publication of maps from the report showing "areas of interest" - I think people assumed that the areas of interest were "official" rather than being "a wish list from an NGO report". Because of this I felt it was important to see what Fair Seas were about. The report is interesting and took considerable effort but I would imagine that the project referenced in my previous post will be a far more in-depth study. Still, the Fair Seas report is worth a read. Angling doesn't feature on the report so it is not possible to gauge how Fair Sea appreciate anglers as stakeholders (I suppose the fact that we are not mentioned says a lot).

As always, the definition of a MPA is most important. What is an MPA? How many different type are there likely to be? The report says that Fair Seas :
"Fair Seas is therefore calling for fully or highly protected marine areas as defined by ‘The MPA Guide: A framework to achieve global goals for the ocean’ (Grorud Colvert et al., 2021). According to the Guide, fully protected areas do not allow any kind of extraction through fisheries or aquaculture, while highly protected areas allow only small-scale, low-impact extraction of fish or shellfish. Neither protected area category allows dredging or dumping, and only minimal to low-impact, small-scale infrastructure is permitted." I don't know (yet) their stance on angling.

So the webinar was largely a presentation highlighting the work of the people in Fair Seas and highlighting their report (Above).
Divers recognise themselves as potential monitors of MPA's and it was hoped that diving clubs would get involved in recording and monitoring.

I didn't make any comments from an angling point-of-view.

Re: Marine Protected Areas - 2023 Discussion

Tue Jun 20, 2023 3:36 pm

Ecological sensitivity analysis of the western Irish Sea

Attended the webinar for the introduction of this report. The report is by the MPA advisory group for the Dept. of Housing, local Government and Heritage.
This is the report that was issued after the process outlined in the first post.

The webinar was attended by about 40 odd people mainly ranging from government types to NGO’s and a few people that I was not sure of their organisation. ( I think SAI were the only Recreational Sea Angling group from what I can see and glean from the report)

The webinar outlined the gist of the report and the methodology used to determine potential sites for MPA’s

“Please note that the independent analytical work of the group was an initial scientific and ecological screening exercise. It will not directly lead to the selection and legal designation of MPAs. In the latter context, the General Scheme of the Marine Protected Areas Bill is currently before the Oireachtas and work on drafting the Bill is advancing. It is hoped that this legislation will come into force later this year. When that happens, a full MPA identification and designation process will be undertaken nationally based on the provisions of the legislation.”

While this is the case it would be hard to ignore the work done by the group when the time comes to determine the location for MPA’s and the level of protection offered to the potential sites.

So in other words this was just an exercise in planning and scientifically helping chose sites of interest for MPA in the Irish Sea. One assumes that if there is enough traction ffrom this report that other areas of the coast would be given the same treatment to determine potential sites.

A copy of the report is here: ... d9eb16.pdf

There is another webinar on the July 7 (Same as the first one with more that likely different people attending) ... 6704539957

Re: Marine Protected Areas - 2023 Discussion

Fri Aug 18, 2023 7:11 am

JimC wrote:
A copy of the report is here: ... d9eb16.pdf

There is another webinar on the July 7 (Same as the first one with more that likely different people attending) ... 6704539957

132 pages of report - quite detailed and colourful. Do you think a law will be passed by the end of the year? I doubt it. Maybe by the end of next year - that's more like it. Bureaucracy is a slow process.

Re: Marine Protected Areas - 2023 Discussion

Wed Feb 14, 2024 11:28 am

HarveyHD wrote:
132 pages of report - quite detailed and colourful. Do you think a law will be passed by the end of the year? I doubt it. Maybe by the end of next year - that's more like it. Bureaucracy is a slow process.

Sorry I missed this reply. Obviously the bill didn't pass before year end. I think they are hoping to have it done before summer recess this year. Democracy, it seems, is a slow process too!

Re: Marine Protected Areas - 2023/24 Discussion

Wed Feb 14, 2024 11:49 am

Stakeholder sessions on the ecological sensitivity analysis of the Celtic Sea – 09/02/2024

This Stakeholder session was held in Cork in order to brief stakeholders on the process t be undergone to produce an ecological sensitivity analysis of the Celtic Sea as similar to the one carried out on the Irish Sea last year.
This was more well attended by stakeholders with various NGO like Birdwatch Ireland, Irish Whale and Dolphin Group and a fisheries scientist from the Killybegs Fishermans Organisation, Marine Dimensions (shark and ray Egg Sac Database), Coastwatch and various interests in Marine offshore wind.

There was a presentation on the methodology of the sensitivity analysis. I’d largely seen this before on a previous meeting but you pick up more on a second viewing. There was a degree of more questioning from stakeholders based on some of the sample layers of the data presented. At every available opportunity I stressed the importance of Cork Harbour, and all the harbours and estuaries within the study area in relation to the marine biodiversity and species such as bass, eels and any species listed as in need of protection on the list presented (Eg: Blonde Ray). I also mentioned of any species listed as Zero Tac by ICES that their distribution and range be included in the data layers (The team will put that up for discussion).

Aside to the main event I spoke with some people involved with the drafting of the MPA legislation. They are hoping to have this moving before the end of the year. They reckon that this is the first time that this inclusive approach has been used to draft a bill. After speaking with them one gets the impression that it will be a few years before we see the first of the MPAs being put in place. The people involved here are passionate about the work they are doing.
Really, I was rehashing the stuff that I had said previously to the science and government teams. I am happy that angling is firmly on the agenda with these people. The other stakeholders are aware of us too. We will see when the horse trading begins.

Again, it must be stressed that this is not a process to select MPA’s but a process that may aid in the selection process.

I my introduction today I mentioned that anglers are a disorganised but important group of people. Angling contributes more than just economic benefits to the country. We are like canaries in a coalmine. We are on the shoreline and at sea. We see things happening. We are the citizen scientists and nature watchers. We are part of the overall wellbeing of all the people we socialise and fish with.
We have a right to be heard in this process. Ideally we will need to be better organised. Sea Angling Ireland is an important tool in this organisation.