Marine Protected Areas - 2023 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.