Turn to the sea for inspiration for your ‘Making Dublin Greener’ schools project … Conservationists attempt to turn the tide

by Rachel Cunningham
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This week, schools could be inspired by the six Irish Sea nations coming together to form a network and “turn the tide of inaction” 

The Irish Sea Network, consisting of conservationists and a number of different environmental organisations, has produced a Review of the Irish Sea 2022. 

Laying out its vision and calls to action to protect and maintain the health of the Irish Sea, the network warns that the Irish Sea is under significant and increasing pressure from climate change. It highlights activities like fishing, aquaculture, development, shipping, aggregates, military activity, recreational activity and pollution as threats to the conservation of the marine environment. 

The group has also underscored that, although 36 per cent of the region is designated as a marine protected area by all the nations of the Irish Sea, only five per cent has any management in place and less than 0.01 per cent is fully protected, adding that Ireland contributes only an estimated 1.4 per cent of the 36 per cent designation. 

The Irish Sea Network believes that strategic and effective marine planning that takes an ecosys-tem-based approach with cross-national collaboration would help to reduce the impact upon sensitive wildlife habitats and carbon stores. 

Ellen MacMahon, Policy officer with the Sustainable Water Network (SWAN), said: “Millions of people around the Irish Sea rely on it for food, employment and wellbeing, but many overlook its role in fighting against climate change and its importance for wildlife.” 

Sea Bees to aid in the prevention of coastal erosion

“Without protection and proper management, much of this wildlife faces an uncertain future. We must ensure that damaging activities like dredging, development and unsustainable fishing methods are managed to ensure that vitally important areas for the environment are protected and we give space for nature’s recovery,” she stated. 

Sinéad O’Brien, Coordinator of the Sustainable Water Network (SWAN) in Ireland, added:“The Irish Sea is about to get much busier. For example, we know that we are about to see a huge expan-sion of offshore renewable energy projects. 

“If we want to tackle the twin climate and biodiversity emergencies, we need robust marine plan-ning which ensures space for nature through a network of effective marine protected areas covering a minimum of 30 per cent of Ireland’s waters. The time for action is now.” 

The involved network organisations include the Sustainable Water Network (SWAN) in Ireland, along with Manx Wildlife Trust, North Wales Wildlife Trust, the North West Wildlife Trusts, Scot-tish Wildlife Trust, The Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales and Ulster Wildlife.

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