According to Minister Malcolm Noonan, Ireland has officially designated its largest-ever Special Protection Area (SPA) for birds.
The EU Birds Directive created the “Seas off Wexford” (SPA), which is the largest SPA designation in State history and covers 305,000 hectares of marine waters, larger than County Wexford itself.
Announcing the new SPA, Minister Noonan said:
“The ‘Seas off Wexford’ SPA will provide enhanced protection for about twenty different species of birds, including some of our most iconic and beloved seabirds like the puffin and the great northern gannet. Along with marking the largest SPA in the history of the State, this announcement increases the percentage of protected marine waters around Ireland to just under 10%, in line with our European commitments.
“When I became Minister for Heritage, only 2.3% of Ireland’s marine area was protected. This new SPA designation for Wexford brings that up to 9.4%. That’s a 400% increase, and it makes the 10% target under the EU Biodiversity Strategy very achievable within the current year.
“I’m so pleased to be making this announcement today, as it marks another significant step forward for nature, and particularly for our seabirds. As a government, we’re working hard to ensure robust biodiversity protections, just as we are working hard to deliver on our offshore renewable energy objectives. We know that biodiversity action and climate action must go hand in hand, and our delivery of a swift transition to clean, renewable energy must have protection for the natural world at its heart. This is good news for our renewable journey and good news for nature!”