Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Questions (458)

Martin Heydon

Question:

458. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the progress being made towards increasing the percentage of maritime area designated as marine protected areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53727/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Ireland has undertaken to expand its network of Marine Protected Areas in accordance with commitments made under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, the National Biodiversity Action Plan (2017-2021), the 1992 OSPAR Convention and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).  On 23rd October this year I announced the formation of an expert Advisory Group to advise my Department and to make recommendations on the processes required and the challenges to be addressed in the extension of Ireland's Marine Protected Area network.

The Advisory Group is being chaired by Professor Tasman Crowe, Director of University College Dublin's Earth Institute, and it will be holding its inaugural meeting today (Wednesday 18 December). In this regard the group will also comprise senior experts, from relevant government institutions, academia and non-governmental bodies, under three subject areas:

- Life and ocean sciences,

- Economic, social and cultural perspectives 

- Legal, governance and political aspects

It is envisaged that there will be regular meetings and stakeholder engagement in preparing the Group's report with is due in May 2020.

In parallel with the work of the Advisory Group, I am also committed to the development of primary legislation to underpin the expansion of the network.