A stretch of ocean off Ireland’s southwest coast has been designat as the country’s first Hope Spot.
Hope Spots are areas that have been identified scientifically as being vital to the ocean’s health.
Mission Blue, a global marine conservation organization, has designated them.
The Greater Skellig Coast joins a list of 148 other protected areas, including the Galápagos Islands, the Great Barrier Reef, and parts of Antarctica.
It stretches around 7,000 square kilometers from Kenmare Bay in County Kerry to Loop Head in County Clare and contains the Skellig Islands.
It is home to severely endangered sharks, vital seabird colonies, and other extinction-threatened creatures that use the area for breeding and feeding.
safeguarded, conserved, and restored
Dr. Sylvia Earle, founder of Mission Blue and renowned oceanographer, said the announcement came at a “crucial” time for Ireland.
“For the first time, new national Marine Protected Area (MPA) ruling will be introduce in 2023,” she noted.
According to her, 81% of Irish people believe the ocean should be protect, maintained, and restored.
“This legislation will assist in achieving this highly desirable safeguard.”
Fair Seas, a collaboration of environmental non-governmental organizations and networks, has campaigned for the area to be designat as a Hope Spot with the help of Sea Synergy, a marine awareness and activity center in Kerry.
Fair Seas has urged the Irish government to set aside at least 30% of Irish waterways as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) by 2030.
“It’s great to see Mission Blue recognize a small area of Ireland’s seas as critically essential to global ocean health, joining the Galapagos Islands and other world-famous marine locations,” said campaign manager Aoife O’Mahony.
“The Hope Spot will help us increase awareness and bring individuals closer to the ocean as we seek to preserve the water and marine life therein.
“This global recognition is even more crucial today as we conclude our national MPA legislation in Ireland.
“We only have one shot at bringing it right, and we owe it to the next years.”