Ireland’s fourth National Biodiversity Action Plan (NBAP) was published this week, setting the biodiversity agenda for the 2023-2030 period. Launching the new plan Minister of State for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan said “Nature is in trouble, but I believe that it can recover. In my time as Minister, I have met the most extraordinary people bringing passion, expertise and dedication to bear on the protection and restoration of habitats and wildlife. What they need more than anything is to be empowered to keep going, and do more.”
The new NBAP is the first to be backed by legislation with legal requirements for public bodies, and seeks to respond to the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss. The five objectives of the plan include the adoption of a whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach; to meet urgent conservation and restoration needs; to secure nature’s contribution to people; to enhance the evidence base for biodiversity; and to strengthen Ireland’s contribution to international biodiversity initiatives.
The plan concentrates heavily on the terrestrial and aquatic habitats but the crisis in the marine is featured too, noting that extinction threatens 48 species living in the Irish marine environment, including fish, crustaceans, shellfish and invertebrates. Targets set out in the NBAP include that Ireland meets all requirements for its transitional, coastal and marine environment under the Water Framework Directive and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive; that all commercial fishing is carried out in full compliance with the EU Common Fisheries Policy; that Ireland’s marine habitats are mapped and studied in order to deliver high quality knowledge on marine biological diversity and ecological features; and that by 2026 Ireland has an effective and coordinated national marine environmental education and awareness programme.
The Marine Protected Areas Bill is included in the plan, which states: “Ireland’s national vision is to ensure that the sea and ocean is clean, healthy, biologically diverse, productive, sustainably used and resilient to the effects of climate change within the broader Atlantic Ocean environment. As a key action to deliver this, the Government is developing legislation on MPAs and will rapidly progress its implementation to help meet our target of 30% protection in the marine environment by 2030. “
Dr Stephen Comerford
Marine Policy Officer