The area covering about 7,000 square kilometres of waters off Cork, Kerry and Clare is rich ecosystem for dolphins, porpoises, puffins as well as seagrass beds and fish nursing grounds.
MEP for Ireland South Grace O’Sullivan has warmly welcomed the news this week that the Greater Skellig Coast, an area from Loop Head in Clare to Kenmare Bay in Kerry, has been designated a ‘Hope Spot’ by international marine protection organisation Mission Blue. Hope Spots are areas that have been scientifically identified as critical to the health of the ocean. The announcement was made on Tuesday 31 January by the renowned oceanographer Dr Sylvia Earle, the first female chief scientist of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Time Magazine’s first ‘Hero for the Planet’ in 1998.
Speaking from the European Parliament in Brussels, MEP O’Sullivan said: “This is further proof that 2023 is going to be the year of the oceans for Ireland. We are putting in place new legislation at home to expand our Marine Protected Areas from around 2% to 30% of Irish seas by 2030 and setting up MARA, a new government agency for maritime planning. At the same time, the EU is planning to increase protections of those areas including ending the practice of intense bottom-trawling in vulnerable marine ecosystems and increasing conservation efforts under the first ever EU Nature Restoration Law.
We also need to put in place some immediate protections however, in particular ending the practice of pair-trawling in Irish inshore waters. This practice targets the non-quota sprat fishery and has a massive impact on ocean wildlife who depend on sprat for food.”