An Fóram’s submission to the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage on Expanding Ireland’s Marine Protected Area Network public consultation makes 14 important recommendations.
The Forum’s Recommendations included:
- The Forum recommends that an Implementation Group is established which has representatives of all government departments and agencies who have a role in the process of expanding Ireland’s MPAs.
- The Forum recommends the Government publish a follow-on document, which outlines key roles and responsibilities of all departments and agencies in the process. This document should also include all resources (funding, staff, etc) and dependencies of the process.
- The Forum recommends that the Government assign an expert in marine governance to the coordinating body to manage engagement across relevant government departments and agencies and ensure coherence with other relevant marine legislation.
- The Forum recommends that the Government assign a communication lead, with expertise in social science and stakeholder engagement, to manage and facilitate stakeholder engagement during all stages of the process.
- The Forum recommends that the first step of this process should be to secure adequate funding for the resourcing of the stakeholder engagement process to ensure it does not revert to a top-down process.
- The Forum recommends that the Government build on existing structures to facilitate stakeholder engagement, such as the Marine Planning Stakeholder Advisory Group.
- The Forum recommends that the communication campaign (recommendation 3.8) is prioritised early in the process, led by a newly appointed communication lead.
- The Forum recommends that the Government produce an executive summary report to communicate the technical advisory document to the public.
- The Government should respond to this technical advisory report by publishing a document outlining all additional resources that will be required to successfully implement, monitor and evaluate this process of expanding Ireland’s MPAs.
- The Forum recommends that there is some independent oversight in the monitoring process and all future roles and responsibilities in monitoring and evaluation should be included in a follow-on report prepared by the Government.
- The Forum recommends that Recommendation 3.64 to undertake the current state of knowledge is prioritised, with adequate resources allocated in the short-term.
- The Forum recommends that the coordinating body should prioritise management plans for sites already protected (SACs, SPAs).
- The Forum recommends developing a roadmap outlining the timeframe and dependencies for various steps in the pre-planning, planning and implementation phases.
- The Forum recommends expanding the ‘Planning’ phase of the Systematic Conservation Planning process, to include seeking adequate funding, the establishment of coordinating body and implementation group, and publishing a detailed document outlining the roles and responsibilities of all departments and agencies who will be involved in the process along with the resources and dependencies for each step.