A coalition of Ireland’s leading environmental organisations today welcomed the publication of Ireland’s new National Biodiversity Action Plan, which includes a large suite of actions to address biodiversity loss on land and also at sea.

However, the Fair Seas coalition warned that the new National Biodiversity Action Plan will only work if every single measure is acted upon promptly, highlighting that the plan itself does not save nature but that its implementation including legislative, policy and on the ground conservation work can. 

The group has also welcomed the fact that the new plan is now on statutory footing for the first time, meaning there will be greater opportunities to hold the Government to account for the plans implementation and success. The plan also commits to enacting and implementing comprehensive legislation to enable the designation and management of Marine Protected Areas (MPA).

Fair Seas has called on the Government to move quickly to enact the forthcoming MPA Bill. The legislation was expected to be introduced before the Dáil summer recess in July 2023 and again before the end of 2023 but both targets were missed. 

Fair Seas campaign coordinator Dr Donal Griffin said, “The pressure humans and society put on the environment is tremendous, causing significant and worrying loss and decline to some of our most special, vulnerable, and even once common species. A strategic whole of Government plan to effectively tackle the root causes of biodiversity loss in Ireland is badly needed and most welcome. It is hugely encouraging that potentially for the first time the plan has the financial resources to facilitate the delivery of its actions. The plan will only work however, if each action outlined in the National Biodiversity Action Plan is acted on promptly and effectively. We need to see the MPA bill enacted as soon as possible.  Several deadlines have already been missed, and the Government is in danger of running out of time to get this important legislation on the books.”

Emma Armshaw, Marine and Coastal Policy Officer with the  Sustainable Water Network (SWAN) added, “We are in the midst of a climate and biodiversity crisis. Every action counts. Enacting the forthcoming Marine Protected Area Bill is not only an important contribution to achieving the state’s biodiversity targets, including designating 30% of Ireland’s seas by 2030, but the ocean also has a huge role to play in addressing and mitigating the worst impacts of climate change. Guided by their own new plan, the Irish Government must take advantage of this opportunity to properly protect and restore Ireland’s seas by passing strong and ambitious MPA legislation now.”

Fair Seas is calling  for 30% of the seas around Ireland to be effectively protected by 2030, including a target for 10% strict protection. Strictly protected sites are the gold standard in MPA networks. Participative stakeholder engagement at every stage, clear delivery timeframes and a robust management framework, with targeted, site-specific measures will be vital to ensure MPAs deliver for nature.

Sign the petition calling for Ireland’s MPA legislation to be published without delay: https://only.one/act/30×30-ireland

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