Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Questions (222)

Eamon Ryan


222. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the position regarding the timeline for implementation and extent of marine protected areas. [23799/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I am committed to introducing enabling legislation to provide for the formal creation and management of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).  It is intended to bring forward legislation for the designation and protection of MPAs once the legislative work on the prohibition of microbeads plastics has been completed.

I also intend to establish an expert advisory group whose terms of reference will include the development of a process for the identification, designation and recommendation of candidate marine areas which require protection.  Work is ongoing to determine the appropriate composition of the group and relevant selection criteria and I anticipate that a broad range of relevant stakeholders will be represented.  It is envisaged that the input of specialist experts from Government Departments, State agencies, the environmental NGO community and academia will be invited as well as that of commercial and recreational users of the marine space. Once established, this expert group will assist me in establishing the designation of various types of MPAs by Regulation, including their geographical delineation and the provision of the necessary special protection measures required for each MPA.   

A significant number of protected areas have already been designated under the EU Birds and Habitats Directives. These include a number of special areas of conservation and special protected areas. The proposed legislation intends that new types of marine spatial protection measures will be added to the existing measures and, over time, provide for the designation of a coherent and representative network of marine protected areas.  

I am not therefore in a position to advise on the exact timeline or total extent of MPAs to be designated at this point in time but confirm that once the immediate work in relation to the drafting and implementation of the microbeads legislation is complete, legislation on MPAs will be advanced.