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New legal handbook authored by UCC School of Law PhD candidate on Ireland's marine protection areas launched today

23 Aug 2021

Expanding Ireland’s Marine Protection Areas: A Legal Handbook launches today in print and audio. The legal handbook, authored by Sarah Ryan Enright, a PhD candidate at the School of Law and MaREI, the SFI Research Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine, UCC, is an original piece of work commissioned and funded by Friends of the Irish Environment, which aims to provide interested parties with information on the legal status of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Ireland during a critical time for MPA expansion and marine policy.

Despite having promised to protect 10% of its waters by 2020 under international commitments, Ireland lags far behind with only 2% of its waters currently under legal protection. These targets are due to be increased to 30% by 2030. Therefore, significant MPA expansion needs to occur in Irish waters in a relatively short time frame. The Irish Government has committed to enacting new legislation to enable the expansion of Ireland’s MPA network. As part of this process, an Expert Advisory Group was convened in 2020 to prepare a report on “Expanding Ireland’s Marine Protected Area Network” which was published on 17 February 2021 and put out to a public consultation until 30 July 2021.  

Expanding Ireland’s Marine Protection Areas: A Legal Handbook, which was submitted to the Government’s public consultation on MPAs, provides a comprehensive overview of the gaps and weaknesses in the current legal status of MPAs in Ireland and includes a comparative study which draws on lessons from neighbouring jurisdictions with whom we share seas, the UK and France.  In light of the unprecedented gravity of the ocean, climate and biodiversity crises, the report calls for new legislation to be enacted as a matter of urgency with sufficient resources allocated for the design and implementation of Ireland’s expanded MPA network.

Commenting on the publication of the legal handbook, author and UCC School of Law/MaREI PhD candidate Sarah Ryan Enright said:

It is widely accepted by scientific and marine policy communities that MPAs are a proven solution to many of the challenges facing the ocean environment. We know MPAs work, now we need legislation to enable the expansion of MPAs in Irish waters as a matter of urgency.

The publication is available to download as a PDF or in audio format from the library of the website of Friends of the Irish Environment. It is also available in printed format from Patagonia, 24 Exchequer Street, Dublin 2 or on request from Friends of the Irish Environment. This work has been supported by Patagonia with further assistance from the Irish NGO MPA Coalition through funding provided by Oceans 5, an international funders' collaborative dedicated to protecting the world's five oceans.




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