Public awareness of the importance of marine conservation is growing. Through research, ecotourism, and the media, more and more people are starting to understand the importance of services provided by the coastal marine environment.
Irish people have identified the marine environment as most important for its scenery, recreation and tourism, a source of food, employment, and, to a lesser extent, part of national culture and identity (Hynes et al., 2014). With this growing awareness comes the pressures upon the Irish government and industries to instate more eco-friendly policies and measures. For example, in 2016 the Irish government allocated €2 million towards climate change research and mitigation as part of the International Green Climate Fund. With these new policies and initiatives, though, come costs; both public and private research contractors all require funding, rangers and other staff members need to be paid, and the erection of protective structures does not always affordable. Limited funds creates a particular difficulty in the enforcement of environmental policy. For example, the National Parks and Wildlife Service is the main enforcer of the protected status of SPAs, SACs and MPAs (see Protected Areas blog post for further details), but, due to lack of proper funding, only a single ranger has been employed to oversee South West Cork and South West Kerry (DAHG, 2013). Insufficient manpower as a result of poorly allocated funds makes it difficult to ensure the conservation of the coastal marine environment. Only through higher levels of funding and public involvement can these conservation methods be implemented fully.
Once the complexities of food web structures are more generally understood, through the important scientific research being carried out by professionals and the public, the key role biodiversity plays in the maintenance of the coastal marine environment will become of greater public concern than it already is. Through proper protective measures, with correct and appropriate levels of funding, the coastal marine environment will continue to provide all of the valuable services, not only to coastal areas, but to the whole of Ireland.
Department of Arts, Heritage, and the G. (2013). Site Name : Lough Hyne Nature Reserve and Environs SAC
Hynes, S., Norton, D., & Corless, R. (2014) Investigating societal attitudes towards the marine environment of Ireland. Marine Policy, 47, 57–65.
WWW1 – Inchydoney Island Kayaking
WWW2 – Food Web Structures