Ireland pledges to support new Maritime Protected Area
Ireland has joined with 14 other countries in establishing a new Maritime Protected Area that covers an area eight times the size of that country’s land mass.
The North Atlantic Current and Evlanov Sea Basin Marine Protected Area (AMP NACES) covers nearly six million square kilometers and is an area of vital importance for seabirds in the North Atlantic.
It is located approximately 1,500 km west of Ireland.
It is home to up to five million seabirds of 22 different species, including five – like the Atlantic puffin – that are globally threatened.
Other endangered species, such as the basking shark and the leatherback turtle, also use this area.
It includes an important foraging and foraging area for over 20 species of seabirds, and is used both by birds breeding on the coasts of the North-East Atlantic and by those migrating to across the world or nest in other parts of the world.
The declaration was made to an OSPAR [Oslo/Paris convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic] meeting in Cascais, Portugal.
OSPAR comprises 15 conventional countries set up to protect the North East Atlantic from pollution and to protect biodiversity and ecosystems. Ireland currently chairs the OSPAR Commission.
Minister Malcolm Noonan attended the meeting in Cascais, signing the ministerial declaration and signaling Ireland’s support for the new MPA and the 2030 strategy.
“The designation today of the North Atlantic Current and Evlanov Sea Basin Marine Protected Area (…) is a truly positive development in the future protection of seabirds and biodiversity “, did he declare.
“Ireland will play a leading role in protecting this area, as we work to create a network of marine protected areas covering 30% of our maritime area by 2030.”
Minister Noonan added: “The decisions taken here today are critical to meeting the global challenges of protecting our climate, biodiversity and marine environment.
The worrying declines in seabird numbers reported in OSPAR’s interim assessment in 2017 were sufficiently glaring for OSPAR to conclude that “seabirds are in trouble”.
Declines have been detected in many species and vulnerabilities to environmental pressures have been demonstrated at all stages of life.
By creating this marine protected area, OSPAR achieved the Aichi target of the 2020 United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity of designating 10% of its maritime area as MPAs.
At the Cascais meeting, members also approved a new strategy for the environment of the North-East Atlantic up to 2030.
Signed by the 15 ministers and the European Commission, it includes a “goal of achieving zero pollution by 2050 and a commitment to reduce plastic articles by 50% by 2025 and by 75% by 2030. disposable and plastic articles related to the sea on our beaches ”.
The Declaration also recognizes that offshore renewables “will play a key role in the decarbonization of our economies over the coming decades, but knowledge gaps remain regarding its impact on the marine environment”.
The parties “will take measures to promote and facilitate the sustainable expansion of renewable energy developments while respecting our commitments in favor of a healthy and biologically diverse marine environment”.