Fair Seas welcomes the announcement of €25 million in new funding for the protection of Ireland’s seas.

Speaking in response to the announcement from the European Commission, Fair Seas coordinator Dr Donal Griffin said, “A new €15 million contribution from the EU, matched by €10 million from the government, is a welcome display of commitment from the government and the EU to protecting and conserving Irish oceans. At a time when the focus of legislators and civil society is on getting the Marine Protected Areas Bill published in the Dáil as soon as possible, it’s an important reminder that without adequate resources the forthcoming Bill won’t achieve what we need it to achieve.”

In July of last year, Fair Seas published the first Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Finance Report in Europe, highlighting the cost to conserve and restore vital marine ecosystems. It estimates that €55 million is required to adequately fund MPA designation and ongoing management until 2030.

Dr Griffin added, “A total of over €25 million is an impressive sum of money to deliver a network of objective-driven, well-managed, monitored and enforced MPAs. We estimate that overall, €55 million is needed to do this properly between now and 2030. Therefore, securing almost half of this resource in early 2024 is highly encouraging”

Fair Seas has been campaigning for 30% of the seas around Ireland to be effectively protected by 2030, including a EU Biodiversity Strategy recommended target of 10% strict protection.

Speaking on behalf of the Fair Seas Coalition, Emma Armshaw, Marine And Coastal Policy Officer with the Sustainable Water Network said, “A strong and ambitious MPA law that is well implemented is an incredibly important contribution to achieving the state’s biodiversity targets and delivering healthy seas. What’s more, healthy seas have a greater capacity to help society mitigate and adapt to the worst impacts of climate change. Therefore, protecting our marine environment properly is a double win, especially as we are in the midst of a twin biodiversity and climate crises. But time is running out, we need a strong and ambitious MPA law as soon as possible.”

The MPA 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. The latest update from the Minister of State for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform confirmed that drafting is at an advanced stage and is expected to be ready for publication this quarter.

The €15 million allocation to Ireland is part of a €233 million strategic investment by the  European Commission across Europe under the LIFE programme to support the implementation of the EU’s environmental and climate ambitions under the European Green Deal. These strategic projects are expected to mobilise substantial additional funds from other EU sources, including agricultural, structural, regional and research funds, as well as from national governments and private sector investment.

Twelve flagship projects have been awarded in ten EU Member States. The funding awarded to these twelve strategic projects will support Bulgaria, Czechia, Ireland, Spain, France, Italy, Lithuania, Austria, Poland and Finland to reach their national environmental and climate targets as they ramp up their contributions to the EU’s green transition.

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