SIR – At this time of climate emergency it is imperative that the natural environment and marine eco systems must be protected and restored to their pristine condition.
There is a real need for protected areas where no commercial activity is allowed and nature is given freedom to restore itself, so that those areas where we manage the resources for human needs or wants can be replenished. It has been suggested that at least 30% of foreshore waters be set aside for total protection and rewilding.
Properly managed, this has been shown to increased fish stocks in adjacent areas, actually increasing catches and benefiting fishing communities. Allowing this is essential if we are to gain from the marine environment, the new ‘blue economy.’
This is particularly important with respect to the kelp forests. It is the foundation from which the riches of the seas are built. It is the nursery from which the whole fishing industry depends.
Ten times greater than forests on land, kelp forests mitigate problems caused by run-off from agricultural activity on the land via waterways flowing into the coastal zone. They provide protection from tidal surges and coastal flooding, which will only get more severe as seas rise and warm.
Kelp provides many health benefits both to human and animal welfare and helps to replenish soil condition which has declined drastically. There is estimated to be only around 40 crops worth of fertility left on the land and biodiversity has been devastated, with losses of species up to 80% over the past 40/50 years as farming and fishing methods have intensified.
The government is currently undertaking a national Marine Planning Process to assess the country’s coastal waters and how to proceed until 2040. Alongside this, the government is intent on acquiring historical traditional rights – turf-cutting, tree-cutting, grazing as well as seaweed from landowners and families that have these rights on their deeds.
They have given until November 2021 for anyone that has these rights to re-apply or renew these rights or they will revert to the government allowing them to be sold off to private companies. If not registered, a court order will be required proving rights go back at least 60 years.
The Department of Housing is putting forward new planning legislation that will restrict public objections and obstruct judicial reviews which examine environmental objections and other checks within the planning process. These steps will reduce public access to justice and are shockingly undemocratic. I am writing to encourage your readers to make representation about the planning process at www.marineplan.gov.ie and alert those that think they may have seaweed harvesting rights, or solicitors whose clients may have them, that they have a limited time to prevent them being taken away and sold on.
Please support Bantry Bay Protect Our Native Kelp Forests who are trying to get the government to do the right thing and implement sustainable management of the foreshores for the benefit of all life along the coastal foreshore.
Bantry Bay Protect
Our Native Kelp Forests.