MarPAMM Irish Marine Area2021-12-17T12:23:43+00:00
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MarPAMM Irish Marine Area

The work from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, as part of MarPAMM, is working directly with marine users and the general public to help identify the best way to manage Marine Protected Areas (MPA) across the Island of Ireland for environmental, economic and societal benefits. MPA work is being led by AFBI in Northern Ireland and Bird Watch Ireland in the Republic of Ireland. This approach puts stakeholders and the general public at the heart of the process and helps build agreement on future marine management. Long-term marine management across the Island of Ireland aims to create “Clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas.” This process follows an ‘Ecosystems Approach’ which focuses on the interaction between species, habitats and humans for sustaining benefits to marine ecosystems for current and future generations.

Currently, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland share a commitment to Marine Protection through the EC Habitats Directive with the designation and management of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and RAMSAR sites. Northern Ireland undertakes additional Marine Protection through designation, management and monitoring of Coastal Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI) and Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs). These are designated to protect a wide array of diverse marine wildlife and habitats.

Key (but not exhaustive) Marine Designations of the two States which fall within the regional MPA plan areas include:

  • Donegal Bay for seabirds (Sanderling, Common Scoter and Divers, etc.);
  • Rathlin Island for seabirds (Razorbills, Guillemots, Kittiwakes and Atlantic Puffins etc.);
  • Strangford Lough for Horse mussel reefs, seagrass beds, and rich seabeds;
  • Carlingford Lough which consists of sand and mudflats, that provide key feeding grounds for birds. The muddy seabed is home to sea-pens and white sea slugs; and
  • Dundalk Bay for Mudflats and Sandflats

Within the UK and Ireland marine management has focussed on planning and management of individual sites. The application of planning at a regional scale will not only enable site specific management but will help develop more strategic management approaches and better links between decision makers. This regional approach for Marine Protected Areas management will be a key tool enhancing marine ‘biodiversity’ and returning marine areas to more favourable natural conditions.

This project will deliver two regional marine management plans for the Co. Down to Co. Louth region and North Coast of Northern Ireland and Ireland (North Channel region). Additionally, the project will deliver two site specific marine management plans for Murlough SAC and Carlingford Lough SPA (cross-border).

MarPAMM’S MPA aims in Ireland

  • Develop strategies for effective Marine Protected Areas (MPA) management through engagement with key stakeholders, general public and marine conservation rangers across Northern Ireland and Ireland;
  • Provide an agreed and shared vision for Marine Protected Areas in the North Coast- North Antrim/North Channel region and County Down- County Louth region within Ireland;
  • Identify issues derived from stakeholder where further information or guidance is required to support effective implementation of MPAs;
  • Develop a series of proposals to help deliver actions identified by stakeholders;
  • Develop a greater understanding of the ‘Ecosystems Approach’ (ecological, economic and social) impacts of MPA Management of the region; and Seek to inform the development of other future Regional Marine Plans.

Delivery of effective MPAs management for MarPAMM Regions in Ireland

A steering group of stakeholders has been developed to guide the MarPAMM activities within the County Down to County Louth region, North Coast of Northern Ireland and Ireland (North Channel region) and two-site specific steering groups for Murlough SAC and Carlingford Lough SPA. The members to this group represent various regulatory authorities and stakeholders from all relevant marine and coastal sectors across the Island of Ireland.

MarPAMM is a project involving collaboration with the Agri-Food Biosciences Institute, Ulster University, BirdWatch Ireland, University College Cork, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Association for Marine Science and Marine Scotland. The €6.4million project is supported the European Unions’ INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). Match funding has been provided by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland and by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government in the Republic of Ireland.

For more information, please contact the MPA Management Policy Officer for Northern Ireland, David Stevenson: or MPA Management Policy Officer for Ireland, PJ Maguire:



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