What is the future for marine protected areas in Irish waters?
Johnson, Mark P.
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Johnson, M.P., Jessopp M., Mulholland O.R., McInerney C., McAllen R., Allcock A. L. and Crowe T. P. What is the future for marine protected areas in Irish waters? Biology and Environment 108B(1): 11-17.
The UK and Ireland, in common with most other European states, are in the middle of a period of rapid expansion in the number of marine protected areas (generally as Special Areas of Conservation, SACs, to meet the EU Habitats Directive). This level of activity will dominate the future of marine protected areas in Irish waters, presenting opportunities for marine conservation and potentially bringing wider benefits to society. The success of SACs is likely to depend heavily on the attitudes and engagement of people that use protected sites (`stakeholders¿). This article reports on a stakeholder workshop where the potential benefits, achievement of potential and possible improvements in marine protected areas were discussed. A lack of baseline data and inefficient communication of existing information were felt to restrict the perceived success of some existing reserves. Improvements seem possible in legislative coherence, public engagement and in the science base. Resources for monitoring and managing protected areas are always likely to be stretched. Ways have to be found to make use of whatever data are available, potentially leading to public access web sites for each SAC where stakeholders can upload information. There appeared to be a broad consensus on many points in the day¿s discussions. In keeping with the workshop format, individual participants were invited to emphasize areas of omission, disagreement or consensus in comments that follow the main body of this article.