The Maritime Area Planning Act 2021, which was enacted in December 2021, includes provisions to establish a new agency, the Maritime Area Regulatory Authority (MARA).
I aim to have MARA up-and-running by Q1 2023 and to facilitate this, a dedicated Unit has been set up within my Department to progress the Implementation Plan to establish this new agency.
Early priorities for the MARA Establishment Unit will include undertaking a skills needs assessment for the new body, establishing the Board, and appointing a chief executive officer. Extensive preparatory work will also be required in advance of the establishment of MARA in respect of each of its individual functions (maritime area consents, licences, enforcement etc.) including preparing a series of regulations and statutory guidelines, and developing the processes dependent on same.
A budget of €2 million for 2022 has been secured to allow early investment in the structuring of the new agency.
The Government has decided that MARA will be located in Wexford in line with regionalisation policies under the National Planning Framework and in order to capitalise on the potential for staff mobility and knowledge sharing between my Department, the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications and the Environmental Protection Agency. Wexford also has a great maritime history and will provide an appropriate setting for this important and much-needed new agency. My officials are engaging with OPW in respect of MARA’s accommodation requirements.