Tasman Crowe contributes to pre-legislative scrutiny of Marine Protected Areas Bill 2023
Yesterday, on 31 January 2023, Prof. Tasman Crowe engaged with the pre-legislative scrutiny of the General Scheme of the Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Bill 2023 at the Joint Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage in Leinster House.
Committee Cathaoirleach Deputy Steven Matthews explained that “The purpose of this Bill is to provide a legislative basis for the designation and effective management of Marine Protected Areas following recommendations to Government of an expert group and subsequent public consultation." The Bill aims to protect 30% of Ireland's maritime area and associated biodiversity by 2030.
In his remarks, Tasman emphasised that stakeholder consultation and public engagement was perhaps the most important aspect of the Bill: "This kind of co-creation and co-management is becoming a key principle in [Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)] around the world. The aim is to foster a sense of ownership and stewardship."
Tasman discussed the need for balancing biodiversity and human activities and wellbeing in MPAs and to understand that "designating an MPA does not entail putting a fence up around the area and preventing anything from happening in it. ... In other cases, activities may be able proceed in modified form. For example, if protecting a seagrass bed, leisure boats would perhaps be able to pass over it, but not to anchor in it."
The need for international cooperation was also emphsised on the basis that "marine life does not respect international boundaries and it is essential that there is some joined up thinking with our neighbours."
In his concluding remarks, Tasman highlighted the opportunities presented by the Bill which "would represent a very significant step change in our relationship with our maritime environment and present a huge opportunity to better manage our interactions with it, both for the health and sustainability of the ecosystems themselves but also for the well-being and prosperity of current and future generations."
It was also notable that many of the principles enshrined in the Bill also form the basis for recommendations emerging from the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss chaired by Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin. The MPA draft bill was informed by the 2020 report on Expanding Ireland’s MPA Network prepared by an advisory group chaired by Tasman and which engaged with over 100 stakeholders in developing its recommendations.
Image and video from UCD News item.