The Programme for Government - Our Shared Future contains a commitment to realise our outstanding target of 10% marine protected area (MPA) coverage in Ireland's waters as soon as is practicable, aiming for 30% by 2030. In this regard the Government has committed in the Programme for Government to deliver comprehensive legislation for the identification, designation and management of MPAs in Ireland.
As an initial step in the current MPA process, an independent MPA Advisory Group chaired by Professor Tasman Crowe, Director of the UCD Earth Institute, was convened by this Department in 2019. Minister Noonan and I received the final report of this expert group, entitled "Expanding Ireland's Marine Protected Area Network", on 22 October 2020 during EU Green Week.
A public consultation process focusing on the report and its key findings began on 17 February 2021 and will remain open until 30 July 2021. I and my colleagues in Government are encouraging all stakeholders and the wider public to submit their views on how Ireland’s network of MPAs should be expanded into the future.
Following this extensive consultation period, and a detailed analysis of the submissions received from all quarters, my Department will commence the development of legislation as stated in the Programme for Government. This work is expected to begin this autumn, with ongoing development of legislation planned into 2022.