Irish Sea needs better protection, say conservationists – BBC

A group of conservation and wildlife organisations have urged the nations of the Irish Sea to work together for its protection.
A review by the Irish Sea Network has found 36% of the sea is designated as some form of Marine Protected Area.
Just 5% of this has full management in place, with less than 0.01% fully protected.
The Irish Sea Network is made up of the six wildlife trusts from the region.
This includes Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England and the Isle of Man along with the Sustainable Water Network in the Republic of Ireland.
Each have their own policies, laws and positions on the marine environment.
"There's a lot of demand on our Irish Sea at the moment, lots of renewables, off-shore wind and so on, and that's going to increase the pressure on this special sea," said Annika Clements, from Ulster Wildlife.
"Working in silos is the big problem. So we've got to talk to each other and develop a regional approach to managing the sea."
There are many key species in the Irish Sea, from sharks and shellfish to seabirds, and some are critically endangered.
The review says important habitats and species have been diminished by decades of human activity; native oyster beds are scarce, landings of important fish such as cod have plummeted, and sightings of harbour porpoise have declined.
With six nations having an interest, developing a strategy is a complex challenge.
"The Irish Sea is a really important regional sea, both ecologically and socio-economically," said Georgia de Jong Cleyndert, from the North West Wildlife Trusts.
"There's a huge amount of habitats that support huge amount of species but it is under significant and increasing pressure from various things such as fisheries, development, climate change, shipping, pollution to name but a few."
Carbon is locked away in the habitats that are supported by the Irish Sea, including seagrass meadows and saltmarshes.
That plays a part in tackling climate change.
But other approaches to reducing emissions have caused Ms Clements concern.
"To meet net zero we need to have lots of off-shore renewables, but we need to do that in a sort of cohesive integrated way and make sure it's compatible with our Marine Protected Areas to keep the health of the ecosystem.
"So one of the main priorities is agreeing what do we need most, where should they go. Some of it will have cross-border implications.
"We need to work together to identify that."
The Irish Sea region is already considered to be in a degraded state.
The network has called for collaboration to restore it to health.
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