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Marine Protected Areas

Current Process

In autumn 2019, the Department initiated a process aimed at expanding Ireland’s network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the coming years. In general terms, MPAs can be considered to be geographically defined areas of a maritime nature that provide levels of protection to achieve conservation objectives.

Expert group to advise on processes for expanding MPA network

The first step in the current process was to convene an advisory group to provide independent expert advice and recommendations on the processes required and the challenges to be addressed in expanding Ireland’s MPA network. The advisory group, chaired by Professor Tasman Crowe, Director of UCD’s Earth Institute, had its first meeting on 18 December 2019. The group has been meeting on a monthly basis, including remotely, during the Covid-19 pandemic. It aims to produce a final report for the Minister by autumn 2020.

The advisory group is currently gathering and facilitating the sharing of knowledge and perspectives on MPAs from key societal, community, business and sectoral interests. It is using two consultative approaches: focus groups and an online questionnaire. 

Online Focus Group Meetings

From 09 to 16 September 2020, the advisory group is holding a series of online focus group meetings with more than 40 stakeholders from various representative bodies, sectors, authorities and interest groups.

Online Questionnaire

In August 2020, the advisory group circulated an online questionnaire to a wide range of representative bodies, sectors, authorities and interest groups. This provides respondents with an opportunity to share their views on MPAs; the future expansion of Ireland’s MPA network; and the preferred approach to selecting, designating and managing MPAs in the short and longer term.

The information gathered by the advisory group, through both consultative approaches, will inform its expert considerations and its final report.

Public Consultation

The Minister plans to publish the final report of the expert advisory group as part of an extensive public consultation commencing in late autumn 2020.

Check this webpage regularly to find out the latest news on the public consultation. Alternatively, if you would like to be notified when the public consultation begins, please send an email to: