New regulations giving legal protection to basking sharks mark a huge step forward in conserving the globally threatened species. As of today, October 3rd 2022, basking sharks in Irish waters are legally protected under Section 23 of Ireland’s Wildlife Act.

At Fair Seas, we believe that an ‘ecosystem-based approach to conservation is required to give species like the basking shark a genuine chance of recovery. Our report ‘Revitalising Our Seas’ is encouraging the government to implement this approach to their ambition of protecting 30% of Irish waters with a network of Marine Protected Areas by 2030.

Aoife O’Mahony, Fair Seas campaign manager said, ‘It is such a special moment to see a basking shark up close, it is something people remember for the rest of their lives. However, we must also remember these enormous fish are ‘wildlife’ and need to be treated with respect. The legal protection for these animals announced today is such good news and fundamental to their long-term conservation in Ireland. This is another step in the right direction to conserve and protect our marine habitats and species, the next step of finalising Marine Protected Areas legislation this year will help build on successes like today’s announcement.”

Dr Donal Griffin, Fair Seas marine policy officer and Irish Basking Shark Group (IBSG) co-coordinator said “Given that basking sharks are classified as ‘endangered’, this is a huge step forward in ensuring Ireland remains a place worth visiting for these animals in the future. Yet we can do even more to make sure basking sharks thrive in Irish waters. Ireland has committed to protecting 30% of its seas by 2030, and along with many other nationally and globally important marine species, the basking shark must be a key consideration in Ireland’s future Marine Protected Area network.”

See below, Fair Seas Policy Officer, Dr. Donal Griffin on RTÉ six o’clock news discussing the new regulations.

Basking sharks are the second biggest fish in the sea, with females only reaching sexual maturity once they have grown to between 8 and 10 metres in length. These fish are most often spotted off the coasts of Donegal, Mayo, Cork and Kerry. Several records show between 60 and 75 individuals in a single sighting.

To learn more about these ocean giants why not tune in to the latest episode of RTE jr’s podcast ‘Ecolution, Our Ocean Giants’ featuring Fair Seas. 

You can also learn more about basking sharks in Irish waters and our plan to help protect them using Marine Protected Areas by reading the full PDF of our report, ‘Revitalising Our Seas’ here. 


Keep up to date with Fairseas and MPA news and developments, by subscribing up to our newsletter here. Make sure to follow us on InstagramTwitter and Facebook.

We also welcome you to join us in Cork on 8th June, where we are hosting our inaugural World Ocean Day conference. We are bringing ocean advocates, government, industry and key stakeholders together to map out the next steps for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Irish waters.

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