The Fair Seas project, which campaigns for greater marine protection, recently carried out an online survey to learn about the connection that people in Ireland have to the sea.

Two people walk on a sandy beach with rocks in the foreground and a bright blue sea and sky

The survey of over 1,000 people over the age of eighteen in Ireland found that the vast majority of people claim to have a personal connection with the sea. Almost two-thirds of those surveyed said they have some emotional connection with the sea, while 70% have some kind of functional relationship (e.g. they go walking by the sea or live by the sea).

Across Ireland, there seems to be modest familiarity with Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), with one third saying they know what an MPA is. Less than one-in-ten seem confident in knowing what they are. Three quarters understand the importance of healthy and protected seas in reducing climate change.

Encouragingly, there are very high levels of support for greater protection of our seas - 78% of people say they would support greater legal protections for the sea and 78% would also support a campaign for greater marine protection, like that of Fair Seas.

You can read more key findings of the Fair Seas survey HERE.

In summer 2022 Fair Seas scientists intend to publish a report on where MPAs should be located in Irish waters and will be calling on the government to engage with the scientific information and ocean stakeholders across Ireland to bring in a network of effective and well managed MPAs.

You can now sign up for the Fair Seas newsletter to keep up to date with their work and campaign to help Ireland meet its commitment of 30X30. You can also follow the campaign on: Facebook - Twitter - Instagram - YouTube

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien and Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan have published a Strategic Action Plan for the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) following government approval.

Minister for Housing, Local Government & Heritage Darragh O’Brien and Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan launch the National Parks & Wildlife Service Strategic Plan in Ballykeeffe Wood, Kilkenny

The new plan sets out an ambitious timeline for a full organisational restructuring of the NPWS, and a substantial €55million additional investment in the organisation across three budgetary cycles, together with the early recruitment of 60 key staff for critically important roles. Launching the Strategic Action Plan in Ballykeeffe Nature Reserve in Co. Kilkenny, Minister Noonan said:

“I’m delighted to confirm that the NPWS will be established as an Executive Agency, giving it a strong identity and voice to speak for nature. Its internal structures will be overhauled, delivering a stronger focus on external engagement and delivery of outcomes. New Directorates, organised along functional lines, will benefit from the early recruitment of 60 key staff for critically important roles. I’ve already increased NPWS funding to €47million in 2022 – a total increase of 64% since I became Minister – bringing it back up to a level not seen since before the financial crisis. Today, I’m proud to announce that Government has endorsed future underpinning investment of up to €55million over the coming three budgetary cycles to realise this plan.

"This funding commitment will enable the NPWS to embrace Ireland’s ambitions for nature and help us begin to turn the tide on biodiversity loss.”

Launching the plan, Minister Darragh O’Brien said: “The NPWS has a proud history, and despite being a relatively small organisation of some four hundred people, carries a complex range of responsibilities, ranging from significant policy and advisory functions, to operational responsibilities in our National Parks, conservation, enforcement, licensing, biodiversity protection and as a statutory consultee on planning.

"It is vital that we have a resilient and effective NPWS to perform all of those functions. I am very pleased that we now have government approval for this Strategic Action Plan, which will provide the momentum to build on the very significant gains which, working with the Minister of State, I have been able to secure for the organisation in the past two budgets, bringing its funding, for the first time since the financial crisis, back to pre-2008 levels. I am happy too for the dedicated and expert team who have sustained the NPWS through so many years - with the implementation of this Strategic Action Plan, the future of the NPWS looks bright.”

The restructuring announcement comes alongside the publication of a review of the NPWS by Natural Capital Ireland co-founder and director Prof Jane Stout, TCD, and Dr Micheal Ó Cinnéide, formerly EPA director and NCI Steering Committee.

Minister Noonan added: “I would like to thank the more than three thousand people who contributed to this vitally important review process - members of the public, stakeholders, and NPWS staff themselves. I would especially like to commend the independent authors whose work the Action Plan is designed to implement - Prof Jane Stout of Trinity College Dublin and Dr Micheal Ó Cinnéide, who delivered first phase of the Review, and former Secretary General Gerry Kearney, who completed the concluding phases. Our Strategic Action Plan is the considered outcome of their deliberations and of all your input.”

Minister Noonan recently launched the National Biodiversity Conference, facilitated by Natural Capital Ireland and will be amongst the ministerial speakers in attendance at the event, which takes place in Dublin Castle on June 8&9, as well as online, tickets available now.

You can read more on how Strategic Action Plan is designed to implement and deliver upon specific recommendations made by the NPWS Review at the following link:

Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan TD has announced a new biodiversity conference that will mark a key milestone in the development of Ireland’s Fourth National Biodiversity Action Plan

(L-R) Oonagh Duggan, Head of Advocacy, Birdwatch Ireland and member of the National Biodiversity Forum; Malcolm Noonan TD Minister of State for Heritage and Local Government; Professor Tasman Crowe, School of Biology and Environmental Science, University College Dublin and Chair of National Biodiversity Forum; Anne Murray, Biodiversity Officer, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, member National Biodiversity Forum launch the event Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan TD this week announced the next National Biodiversity Conference at Dublin Castle on June 8-9, 2022. The event will see national and international experts come together under the theme ‘Act Now for Nature’. The conference forms part of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage’s public consultation on Ireland’s fourth National Biodiversity Action Plan, which will be implemented over a period of five years. With a Climate and Biodiversity Emergency declared in the Dáil in 2019, we are losing global biodiversity at a rate unprecedented in human history. In Ireland, many of our protected habitats are in poor condition and 14% of assessed species are thought to be endangered. This ongoing biodiversity loss poses a threat not alone to our environment and natural heritage, but to our economy, society and to individual quality of life. The conference is an initiative of the Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage and its National Parks & Wildlife Service, supported by Natural Capital Ireland. It will bring together stakeholders from the public, private, NGO and academic sectors in order to share experiences in protecting, conserving and restoring biodiversity and offer insights to inform the next National Biodiversity Action Plan aka the NBAP (hashtag #Biodplan22).

The Minister of State released an accompanying video to launch the event, below:

Minister Noonan said: “This conference will form an important part of the public consultation process on the National Biodiversity Action Plan. We need a diversity of voices to come together to discuss challenges, explore solutions and establish ways to collaborate more effectively on implementation. "I’d like to encourage everyone – farmers, foresters, fishers, scientists, community groups, local authorities, NGOs, State Agencies, businesses, young people and everyone else besides – to get involved. “Biodiversity loss is a critical issue that impacts the natural world, our societies and our economies. Humans depend on nature for our survival – it is that simple. We cannot stand idly by while the web of life falls apart. Ecosystems regulate the climate, fertilise soils, purify water, produce oxygen and pollinate our crops. Many have already seen irreversible changes, including in Ireland. What’s more, nature is our first and best line of defence against climate change. “Ireland’s next National Biodiversity Action Plan will seek urgent solutions to reverse losses, enable protection, support conservation and deliver restoration through an all-of-Government, all-of-society approach – and that means you! So I’m encouraging everyone to register for the conference, have your say on the new NBAP and help Ireland ‘act now for nature’.” The National Biodiversity Conference 2022 will be held in Dublin Castle over two days on June 8th & 9th, in accordance with the latest Covid-19 guidelines. It will be streamed live online with a number of satellite events to highlight the importance of biodiversity in the days and weeks leading up to the event, facilitated by Natural Capital Ireland. Our previous sold-out national conference in 2019 entitled ‘New Horizons for Nature’ brought together senior international policy makers and thought leaders in the area of biodiversity, including Humberto Delgado Rosa is the director of natural capital at the European Commission’s directorate general for environment and Inger Andersen, now Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme.

Read more at - tickets for the conference will be available soon - register your email on the conference website now to be kept up to date on event announcements.