As the Minister responsible for the development and implementation of marine environmental policy and the safeguarding of our seas and ocean, I recognise that transboundary cooperation plays a significant role in marine conservation and prevention and elimination of pollution.
Our primary mechanism for marine environment cooperation is through the European Union and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. This provides an on-going framework for cooperation between EU Member States to prevent pollution and to conserve the marine environment.
The UK departure from the EU in January 2020 means that this avenue of cooperation is no longer available to us in bilateral relations with the UK. In this regard we cooperate with the UK through the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (The OSPAR Convention). OSPAR has 16 Contracting Parties who implement the Convention through the OSPAR Commission. The parties are Belgium, Denmark, European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and UK.
Through OSPAR and a pooled resource of experts, Ireland works bilaterally with the UK administrations to ensure conservation of marine ecosystems and the prevention and elimination of pollution. Ireland holds the Chair of the OSPAR Commission (2018-2021).
OSPAR has the competency to take action on the protection of biodiversity, prevention of pollution including hazardous substances, marine litter and noise and the regulation of human activity including offshore installations and radioactive discharges.