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24th May 2018 | Environment, Press Releases

Green Party motion to protect oceans passes in Seanad

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A motion from Green Party Senator Grace to protect Ireland’s seas and oceans and help our fishing communities passed in the Seanad on Wednesday evening, despite opposition from Government Senators.

Senator O’Sullivan’s motion, supported by her colleagues in the Seanad Civil Engagement Group, calls on the government to publish an ‘Oceans Bill’ to create a new legal basis to identify, create and manage marine protection areas, to protect fragile habitats from human activities and ensure the long term health of Irish waters. It calls for a bottom-up, community-led approach that would create strong protected areas that would allow marine habitats to recover using their natural resilience.

The motion was conscious of the pressures faced by smaller Irish fishermen and urged the government to seek a fairer and more sustainable allocation of quotas on the national and international level, and recognise the crucial role marine reserves can play in restoring stocks.

Ocean habitats have flourished for millions of years without human help, and they can do so again if we will just allow their natural resilience to restore them.

Speaking during the debate, Senator O’Sullivan said: “Yesterday was international Day for Biological Diversity. However, Ireland has not much to celebrate, considering our poor performance to date in the area of marine protection. Ocean habitats have flourished for millions of years without human help, and they can do so again if we will just allow their natural resilience to restore them.”

Real measures are needed to allow the wildlife present to restore itself in the face of the increasing pressures from climate change, air, water and noise pollution, increasing levels of plastic waste and the damaging effects of fossil fuel exploration and extraction.

The motion garnered the support of Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, Labour and many independents in the Seanad, and passed despite government attempts to introduce a counter-motion. All parties agreed that Ireland is not meeting its international and European commitments to protect a significant amount of Irish waters. Real measures are needed to allow the wildlife present to restore itself in the face of the increasing pressures from climate change, air, water and noise pollution, increasing levels of plastic waste and the damaging effects of fossil fuel exploration and extraction. Ocean habitats have flourished for millions of years without human help, and they can do so again if we will just allow their natural resilience to restore them.

Senator O’Sullivan is now determined to work with the government to seek the quick introduction of a comprehensive ‘Oceans Bill’ that will tackle these threats and help all our coastal communities.