A coalition of  Ireland’s leading environmental non-governmental organisations and networks has signed up to a charter pledging to take concrete actions to protect our ocean and waters – one of the first 100 communities in Europe to do so.

Fair Seas has signed the European Mission “Restore our Ocean and Waters by 2030” which brings together member states, regions and a wide range of stakeholders with the common goal of making our oceans healthy again. 

The European Commission is hosting a three-day hybrid event and conference in Cork this week in cooperation with Ireland Ministries and the National Maritime College of Ireland, Ringaskiddy. It is focusing on the political commitments to implement the Mission and agree measures to protect and restore marine and freshwater ecosystems and biodiversity as well as boosting coastal resilience. 

Aoife O’ Mahony, Campaign Manager for Fair Seas, signed the Mission Charter and also addressed the Community Action session. Fair Seas is urging the Government to designate a minimum of 30% of Irish waters as Marine Protected Areas by 2030, up from the current figure of 2%.  

Aoife O’Mahony said, “At Fair Seas, our aim is to protect, conserve and restore Ireland’s remarkable marine environment. We share the same goals as the European Mission and are delighted to become one of the first 100 communities to sign the charter. We want to build a movement of ocean stewardship in Ireland by highlighting the uniqueness and significance of our marine environment.. This new awareness of the wonder of our ocean has already increased awareness of Marine Protected Areas in Ireland, as seen in our recent consumer perception research and helps to build momentum around upcoming legislation. Ireland has a unique opportunity to learn from those who have gone before us and ensure we develop robust and flexible legislation that will protect our ocean for generations to come.”

A recent REDC survey of more than 1,000 people, carried out on behalf of the Fair Seas campaign, shows strong support for additional protections with four out of five people saying they would support a campaign to protect more of our seas. 

Dr Peter Heffernan is a member of the European Commission’s Mission Board ‘Restore Our Ocean and Waters by 2030’. He said, “The aim of this event is to mobilise a wide range of stakeholders to join the Mission. The Mission is highly ambitious and wants to protect a minimum of 30% of the EU’s sea area. A third of this area, representing 10% of the EU sea, should be strictly protected. These are areas of very high biodiversity and climate value. Ireland has an opportunity to engage in this ambitious mission and involve stakeholders from across the Island to support this restoration and conservation of our ocean and become a leader in Europe.”

The Fair Seas campaign is led by a coalition of  Ireland’s leading environmental non-governmental organisations and networks including  Irish Wildlife Trust, BirdWatch Ireland, Sustainable Water Network, Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, Coomhola Salmon Trust, Irish Environmental Network and Coastwatch.

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