National Marine Planning Framework Baseline Report

Opportunity for Ireland
The National Marine Planning Framework should be the means for Ireland, as an island nation with c 7,000km of coastline, and some of the best marine ecosystems in Europe, to take an international lead in climate mitigation, and the required action to reverse ocean acidification and biodiversity loss. As we face the sixth, and for the first time human caused, great extinction in global species, there is an imperative for developed countries to protect the natural world including the marine ecosystem both at national level, and in international action.

The basis for this was established by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity 1992. This was furthered by the 2012 UN Rio Plus 20 Conference which recognised and gave further status to “the intrinsic value of biodiversity” and “its critical role in maintaining ecosystems that provide essential services, which are critical foundations for sustainable development and human well-being”. Following on from this, in 2015 the UN Sustainable Development Goals provided the overarching framework for integrating the future of the marine ecosystem with planetary sustainability. In particular, Goal 14: Life Under Water sets out the overarching objective “To conserve and sustainably use the ocean seas and marine resources”. In addition, Ireland has a range of obligations as a party to the OSPAR Convention for the North East Atlantic. Further to that, Ireland has compliance obligations under EU law in relation to the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, and other EU Directives including the Birds and Habitats Directives.

Ireland’s marine and coastal zone environment is experiencing increasing development pressures and conflicts from fishing; aquaculture; oil and gas extraction; shipping activities and port development; and increasing maritime recreational and tourism activity. These must be reconciled with meeting international and national commitments in respect of climate emissions, biodiversity and water quality. At the same time the development of alternative energy, whether off shore wind, wave or tidal, or exploitation or cultivation of biomass brings new challenges to the marine environment.

Full submission here.