Fully funded Marine Protected Areas necessary to protect our seas and provide clarity Environmental Pillar tells National Economic Dialogue

The Environmental Pillar, Ireland’s environmental NGO advocacy coalition, is calling for fully funded Marine Protected Areas amounting to €55 million over four years (1) at the National Economic Dialogue 2024 which is taking place in Dublin Castle today.

Ireland is one of more than 190 countries committed to protecting or conserving at least 30 percent of the planet’s land and ocean by 2030 – known as the 30×30 goal. We must now honour that commitment by backing it with Marine Protected Area (MPA) legislation with adequate financing, the Environmental Pillar will tell the Dialogue.

Fair Seas, a coalition of environmental NGOs and networks which has been campaigning for MPA legislation, has set out the financial cost of scaling up marine protected areas (MPAs) to conserve and restore vital marine ecosystems. Its report Financing Ireland’s Marine Protected Area Network has set the cost at €55 million over four years to cover operating expenditure including staff salaries, scientific studies, boat fuel and maintenance as well as capital expenditure like boat and car purchases, demarcation buoys, scuba diving equipment and surveillance equipment such as radar and drones.

Oonagh Duggan, Environmental Pillar spokesperson and Head of Advocacy with BirdWatch Ireland, said: “It has been more than 20 months since the Marine Protected Area (MPA) Bill was first listed by the government as priority legislation. In the midst of a climate and biodiversity crisis, our ocean needs the protection and management that MPAs can provide. But that protection and management needs to be properly financed. Fully-funded Marine protected area (MPA) legislation will save ocean biodiversity but also provide more clarity for fishing and coastal communities and renewable energy projects.”

“It’s vital that the Irish government develops strong and ambitious legislation allowing for 30% of Irish waters to be protected within Marine Protected Areas, including strictly protecting 10% of Irish waters to allow life in our ocean to not only survive but recover and thrive for the benefit of all.”

At the Dialogue, the Environmental coalition also called for:

  • Social protection measures surrounding transition to low-carbon society, including the benchmarking and indexation of social protection payments to average wages; raising fuel allowance rates in line with cost of living increases; and the introduction of an energy guarantee scheme
  • Measures to create Sustainable Communities, including a Site Value Tax which alleviates urban sprawl and a focus on sustainable transport
  • An environmentally sustainable tax system
  • Green Public Procurement policies



  1. Fair Seas (2023), ‘Sustainably Financing Ireland’s Marine Protected Area Network‘.