Fair Seas visit Europe’s rarest breeding seabirds to launch video

by Rachel Cunningham
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Rachel Cunningham

A coalition of Ireland’s leading environmental non-governmental organisations and networks has released a new video to highlight its report on marine protected areas.

The group also led a boat trip to the Rockabill islands off the coast of Dublin last Friday, to promote a new report aimed at kickstarting the conversation around the location of marine protected areas.

While Ireland has publicly committed to support the goal to protect 30 per cent of the global ocean by 2030, just two per cent of Irish waters are currently protected. Fair Seas has published the study, which identifies 16 areas of interest in Ireland’s ocean territory. It provides information on where to best protect marine species, based on the geographic distributions of 87 species.

The 120-second video called, ‘A Letter from the Sea’ is narrated by Irish environmental scientist Dr Tara Shine from Change by Degrees and highlights the importance of protecting our oceans to give species, habitats and coastal communities the opportunity to thrive.

The Rockabill islands are located 6km from Skerries and are home to the most important Roseate Tern colony in all of Europe. Rockabill to Dalkey Islands is the largest special area of conservation off the East Coast, which extends to 273km2.

 Fair Seas has proposed that an area extending over 4,300km2 , from Carlingford Lough to Wicklow Head, be looked at when considering marine protected areas.

“It is only when you visit places like Rockabill, the Saltees, Blaskets or any number of islands off our coast that you see just how important Ireland is to so many different species. Our ocean territory is home to endangered sharks, globally important seabird colonies and animals threatened with extinction.

“It is vital that we act now to restore critical habitats, safeguard wildlife and help address the climate crisis. The time for action is now and our report is the starting point”, Fair Seas Campaign Manager Aoife O’Mahony stated.

Commenting on the choice of venue, Linda Lennon, CEO of BirdWatch Ireland, said: “Rockabill is arguably Ireland’s greatest conservation success story. Through dedicated conservation work by BirdWatch Ireland in collaboration with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Roseate Tern population increased by over 10-fold between 1989 and 2021. This is proof that targeted conservation efforts work.”

The report, “Revitalising Our Seas – Identifying Areas of Interest for MPA Designation in Irish Waters” was commissioned by Fair Seas and uses scientific research and available data to identify the potential areas most in need of protection.

A Letter from the Sea can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfWOzkJTIZg

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