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European Parliament backs Irish MEP’s call to increase ocean protection in face of ecosystem collaps

MEPs Ciarán Cuffe and Grace O'Sullivan give a "thumbs up" after the vote on Ocean Governance was passed in the European Parliament.

Nearly half of all habitats surveyed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service in recent years have declined in status, with 85% now in an inadequate condition. This includes fragile ecosystems popular such as Roaringwater Bay in Cork or Kenmare Bay in Kerry.

However a Resolution tabled by Irish MEP Grace O’Sullivan and passed in the European Parliament today (6 October 2022) aims to put Ireland’s oceans at the heart of the European Green Deal, including cleaner coasts from plastic waste, massive marine protected areas covering 30% of Irish waters and a definitive end to whaling which continues in the North Atlantic. 

In a first for the European Parliament, the Resolution on Strengthening Ocean Governance and Biodiversity also includes a call to ban oil and gas exploration in the Arctic.

Grace O’Sullivan, who spent over 10 years at sea as an activist with Greenpeace, said “I wanted to get a strong Resolution on the record from the European Parliament ahead of the upcoming COP15 in Montreal in December. The COP15 is a conference that helps guide international responses to the terrifying collapse in biodiversity which we are also witnessing in Ireland.”

“While many species on land struggle to deal with changing temperatures, that impact is even more difficult for marine biodiversity, where a fraction of a degree change can wipe out entire areas. It can also see explosions in populations like jellyfish or algal blooms, which is not good for the delicate balance of the oceans.” 

Commenting on Ireland’s global role, Ms. O’Sullivan said “As one of the only remaining island nations in the EU, Ireland and Irish leaders should be spearheading all efforts to protect the sea from destructive activities like mining and dredging as well as from plastic and fertiliser pollution. I hope to see the government designate Marine Protected Areas as a matter of priority in the coming months to show we are leaders in climate action.”

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