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Heritage Week is upon us again and the Deep Maps team will be participating in a range of events over the coming days, that will cater to all ages!
Ellen Hutchins Festival
As part of the Ellen Hutchins Festival which runs in tandem with National Heritage Week events, our Deep Maps research assistant, Breda Moriarty will be talking about Deep Maps: West Cork Coastal Cultures on Monday 21st August. In this talk Breda will explore human responses to marine resources, using literary, archaeological and visual sources from Bantry Bay. This talk will take place at 8pm in the Park Hotel, Glengarriff. Be sure to check out the full programme of events which includes tours, botanical art demonstrations and seaweed specimen identification on Whiddy Island!
Deep Maps Exhibition Guided Tour
If you have not had a chance to visit our Deep Maps exhibition currently on display in the Lewis Glucksman Gallery, be sure to attend our guided tour on Wednesday, 23rd August! This exhibition focuses on the deep mapping of the West Cork coastline from Timoleague to Bantry Bay. Taking visitors on a journey from traditional cartography through objects of cultural value and scientific inquiry, it seeks to enrich our knowledge of the diverse ways in which culture connects us with our marine environment.
Touch Tanks at Lough Hyne
Deep Maps will be attending the annual ‘Touch Tanks at Lough Hyne’ event held in conjunction with Skibbereen Heritage Centre and U.C.C. School of Biological, Environmental and Earth Sciences. This event will take place from 11:30-1:00pm, and will give participants an opportunity to interact with, and learn about the range of marine creatures at the Lough. For more information visit the Heritage Week website or contact Skibbereen Heritage Centre. Be sure to join us on Twitter and Instagram this Thursday as we revisit our time at the Touch Tanks event last year!
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is part of the Heritage Division of the Department of Arts, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht. They oversee areas of:
- Policy and management of Parks and Reserves, Nature Service strategy, Finance and regional operations including enforcement
- Wildlife Acts and EU Directives, “Licensing provisions under the Wildlife Acts, Modernisation of property management, Policy on residential properties in national parks and the Departments Development Applications Unit”
- Peatland Policy, Turf compensation and relocation schemes, and Land Designation and Restoration
- “Scientific Support, Biodiversity policy and international issues, CITES and exotic species, Agri-Environment policy and schemes, Marine and aquaculture issues, Education Service and Data management” (www1)
South West Cork comes under the Southern Division of NPWS, where the Science and Biodiversity Department perform crucial work in the areas of Marine and Habitats, Conservation Systems and Informatics, and Species and Aquatics. Without this work, Irish ecosystems would be without the level of protection said to be needed by governments, scientists and the public alike. NPWS secure the conservation of a 38 whole range of ecosystems (including the marine) by maintaining and enhancing the native flora and fauna of Ireland. They are key in the designation of SACs and SPAs.
They ensure proper implementation and enforcement of EU Policy and Directives, and the ratification of international conventions and agreements. Furthermore, without NPWS it would be increasingly difficult to maintain, manage and develop National Parks and Reserves, like Lough Hyne. Through education, public outreach, and stakeholder engagement, NPWS are also helping to raise awareness for the importance of biodiversity and natural heritage. It is due to the rigorous workings of government and international policy makers, through services like NPWS that the mounting pressures on the coastal marine environment can be alleviated. Without correct definition and enforcement of environmental policy and legislation, conservation of biodiversity and protection of valuable ecosystem services would not be possible
It is not just the EU that are influencing environmental conservation and protection in Ireland. The Irish government, have created and adopted their own policies. One such policy is the National Biodiversity Action Plan. First launched in 2002, as part of the 1976 Wildlife Act, its 91 Actions integrates all other European and international conservation directives (DAHGI, 2002). The National Biodiversity Action Plan defines three levels at which biodiversity conservation can be considered:
- Ecosystem Diversity
- Species Diversity
- Genetic Diversity
A second, amended National Biodiversity Action Plan was introduced for the 2011-2016 period with 102 Actions focusing on, not only biodiversity, but also ecosystem services (DAHGI, 2010). Four categories of ecosystem services are defined within the legislation. The first of these is provisioning services, such as food, the second is regulating services, such as climate change, thirdly is supporting services, like nutrient cycling, and finally, cultural services, like recreation. This piece of legislation grants environmental protection both within and outside of designated protected areas.
This legislation demands that environmental protection and conservation is made a priority in governmental decisions. It further aims to increase base knowledge of current environmental issues and threats, promote public awareness and participation in conservation, and to represent Ireland’s contribution to international conservation efforts. A third Action Plan will begin formulation in 2016, to come into effect in 2017, taking into account the 6 target areas of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020. These 6 targets are:
- Full Implementation of all EU Directives
- Maintain and restore ecosystem services
- Increase the contribution of agriculture and forestry to maintain and enhance biodiversity
- Ensure the sustainable use of fisheries resources
- Combat invasive, alien species
- Help avert global biodiversity loss
Through correct and effective implementation of these Action Plans, the state of the Irish coastal marine environment, and the environment in general, will continue to improve. However, without the efficient enforcement, it can all be for nothing. This is where organisations like the National Parks and Wildlife Service are vitally important for continued conservation of Irish biodiversity.
DAHGI (2002) National Biodiversity Plan. Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands.
DAHG (2010) Actions for Biodiversity 2011-2016. Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
DAHG (2015) Interim Draft Review of the Implementation of Actions for Biodiversity 2011-2016. Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
The Nitrates Directive
Although not directly related to the coastal marine environment, the Nitrates Directive is directly related to one of the aforementioned major issues: eutrophication. This regulation has been in place since 1991, and deals with the protection of water quality from agriculture derived pollution, and the promotion of good farming practices. The Nitrates Directive establishes rules and management constraints on the application of livestock manure and fertilisers, through a series of four year Nitrate Action Plans (NAP). It was given legal effect in Ireland as part of the EU Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters. The third Irish NAP came into effect in 2014, with updated and amended policies, and will conclude in 2017. As each EU member state is required to review their NAP’s every four years, Ireland’s current Action Programme will be reviewed for a fourth time during 2017. Each Member State’s NAP must include (WWW1):
- A limit on the amount of livestock manure applied to the land each year
- Set periods when land spreading is prohibited due to risk
- Set capacity levels for the storage of livestock manure
Irish Slurry Calendar
In County Cork, manure cannot be spread between October 15th and January 12th, based on decisions made by consultation between public bodies, farmers and the European Commission. Further limitations were put in place based on weather conditions. Fertilisers cannot be spread if land is waterlogged, flooded or at risk of flooding, frozen, or if high rainfall is expected within 48 hours. By sticking to these constraints, farmers have greatly helped reduce the amount of run-off driven eutrophication in Irish waters.
In order to meet the growing demands of the dairy and beef industries, intensive farmers have also been allocated an increased allowance of the weight of fertiliser permitted to be applied to an area of farmland, from 170kg/ha to 210kg/ha annually. This derogation is of critical importance to the dairy industry and Food Harvest 2020 expansion plans in Ireland (WWW1). Enforcement of this directive is strictly regulated by local authorities, set out by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries, and the Marine.
WWW1 – Nitrates Action Plan
WWW2 – Slurry Spreading
WWW3 – Ireland’s Slurry Calendar
The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) is based on achieving Good Ecological Status (GES), but specifically for marine waters. Adopted on 17 June 2008, and written into Irish legislation in 2011 the Directive further aims to have GES established by 2020. In order to achieve GES by 2020, each Member State is required to develop a strategy for its marine waters (WWW1). Through State, academic, and private consultancy advice and research, the MFSD aims to apply an ecosystem based approach to the management of human activities, while still maintaining sustainability of marine resources for future generations.
Marine Strategy Requirements
For this reason, marine strategies include (ibid.):
- The initial assessment of the current environmental status of national marine waters (refer to WWW2)
- The environmental impact and socio-economic analysis of human activities in these waters (refer to WWW2)
- The determination of what GES means for national marine waters
- The establishment of environmental targets and associated indicators to achieve GES by 2020
- The establishment of a monitoring programme for the ongoing assessment and the regular update of targets
- The development of a programme of measures designed to achieve or maintain GES by 2020
- furthermore, the process is cyclical and the second cycle starts again in 2018 .
Several factors are considered under the Directive as part of this ecosystem based approach :
|Eutrophication||Exploitation of Fish stocks|
|Food Webs||Emerging Contaminants (i.e. Hormone Medications, Agricultural Run Off, Untreated Sewage etc.)|
|Marine Litter||Seafloor Integrity|
Tackling these factors, will help alleviate many of the major pressures being placed upon the coastal marine environment. However, before any ecosystem based approach can be undertaken member states must conduct an initial assessment of each of the above factors. In light of this, an initial assessment was carried out in a 500,000 km2 area surrounding Ireland’s coastline. Generally speaking, the major issues identified during assessment were the exploitation of fish stocks by commercial fishers and nutrient enrichment (including eutrophication) (Marine Institute, 2013). European member states re-evaluate this process every 6 years, with the definition of GES being constantly improved. This process, subsequently allows for new information to be incorporated so all targets, characteristics, and indicators can be further improved and reviewed.
The Water Framework Directive (WFD) provides legal structure to protect and restore clean water across Europe and ensure its long-term, sustainable use (DOE, 2015). This WFD integrates agriculture, industry, and spatial planning, and impacts on many other existing pieces of legislation.
The WFD was the result of ongoing investigation into water quality, which began in the 1970’s and 1980’s. This culminated in quality objective legislation on fish waters, shellfish waters, bathing waters and groundwaters. Despite the European Water Policy undergoing a thorough restructuring process in the last 30 years, concern over water quality is still very much evident among communities, scientific and environmental organisations.
Flash Eurobarometer Report
In 2012 for example, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for the Environment requested 25,524 European citizens aged 15 and above be interviewed by telephone. Interviews were conducted to gauge public opinion on issues relating to water conservation and establish whether awareness of water issues had improved over time (WWW1).
The results of this survey showed that ‘75% of Europeans consider that the EU should propose additional measures to address water problems in Europe with the main focus of such measures on water pollution from industry and agriculture’ (WWW2). 67% of participants additionally felt that they were not well informed on issues affecting water quality. Participants felt that greater emphasis on dissemination of information was one of the best solutions to tackle this environmental issue collaboratively.
Aims and Objectives
The WFD is unique in that it establishes a framework for the protection of all waters and their dependent wildlife/habitats under one piece of environmental legislation (WWW3). This directive aims to :
- protect/enhance all waters (surface, ground and coastal waters)
- achieve “good status” for all waters by December 2015
- Manage water bodies based on river basins (or catchments)
- Involve the public
- streamline legislation
River Basin Management Plan
The Birds, Habitats, and Nitrates Directives, coupled with regulations on drinking water, bathing waters, and urban waste are all key factors within the Water Frameworks Directive, as well as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. A major requirement of Member States within the Water Frameworks Directive is the preparation of River Basin Management Plans, comprised of three, five year planning cycles. Ireland is currently within the second of these planning cycles.
- 1st Cycle River Basin Management Plans: 2009-2014
- 2nd Cycle River Basin Management Plans: 2015-2021
These plans are laid out with the goal of achieving Good Ecological Status (GES) of all waters. Ireland will begin its second cycle in 2017. This cycle is behind schedule and so the next cycle will last 4 years rather than 5. Mr. Simon Coveney T.D. Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government has also called for submissions, observations and comments on the current draft plan for 2018 – 2021.
At the time of writing (3/2016), 63% of Irish coastal waters (1 nautical mile from land) were deemed to be in “High” ecological status. The majority of riverine and transitional waters were also deemed to be in a “Moderate” status. Additionally, 73% of Irish rivers have been classified as “unpolluted” as of the last cycle. This is comparatively better than that of most other European countries. In essence, the efficient implementation of this framework, could greatly help the conservation of the coastal marine environment.
WWW1 – Eurobarometer Overview
WWW2 – Flash Eurobarometer Report
The Habitats Directive was adopted by the European Union in 1992, and is based around the protection and conservation of all habitats, and the flora and fauna of all Member States. It aims to maintain biodiversity while taking account of all social, economic, cultural, and regional aspects of each country. Working in conjunction with the Birds Directive, a further five annexes have been laid out separately within this piece of legislation.
Habitats Directive Annexes
The five Annexes included in the Habitats Directive are:
- Annex I demands the definition of each individual habitat type and the features of interest within them.
- Annex II covers roughly 900 species of plant and animal, specifying that sites must be managed with the ecological need of each species as paramount.
- Annex III enforces both site and species specific assessments, while defining the importance of the habitat to the local community.
- Annex IV enforces a strict protection regime across the entire range of a species, both within and outside of designated areas.
- Annex V ensures that any exploitation or taking of species is compatible with favourable conservation status.
Another factor of the The Habitats Directive includes the implementation of Species Action Plans to restore and maintain populations of particular species. Furthermore, all Member States must provide regular reports on the status of their habitats and species, and on any compensatory measures put in place by the State. The Directive is constantly improved and amended based on the advice of a specialised Habitats Committee. However, from a marine perspective, habitat conservation and protection can only be effectively carried out by ensuring clean and suitable water quality. This was the reason for the establishment of directives such as the Water Framework Directive and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.
WWW1 – Badger Profile
The Birds Directive was first adopted by the EU in 1979, and was later amended in 2009 and is currently one of the oldest pieces of environmental legislation. This directive grants protection to the native and migratory birds of Europe, providing a relief of pressures stemming from habitat degradation or reduction as a result of forestry, agriculture, fisheries, and the use of pesticides. It is this piece of legislation that led to the establishment of Special Protected Areas, and gives restriction to the use of poison baits, capture, and hunting of the 500 bird species within the EU. Adapted each time a new Member State joins the EU, five annexes have been laid out to protect and conserve bird species and their habitats. These Annexes are:
- Annex I represents 194 individual species and subspecies, and specifically deals with the allocation of special protected areas.
- Annex II deals with hunting procedures for 82 species, stating the timing at which hunting of certain species is permitted. This includes a total ban on all forms of hunting during migration to nesting sites, and at times of reproduction and chick rearing.
- Annex III covers 26 species and the deliberate threats posed to these birds by humans. Only with the tightest restrictions are the killing, capture, trade, and disturbing of nests of these birds permitted.
- Annex IV bans all forms of mass killings of bird species, and lays out sustainable hunting practices for Member States.
- Annex V promotes research to exemplify the protection, management and use of all species contained within the Directive. The establishment of the Birds Directive directly led to the formation of the Habitats Directive.
Species loss of migratory birds is due in particular to habitat loss and degradation. The Curlew (Numenius arquata) for example, one of Ireland’s most recognisable wetland birds, has been placed on n the red list of Birds of Conservation Concern in Ireland (BoCCI) due to significant drop in its population. Between 1998-2008 in particular, numbers went from 12,000 to just 1,700 birds (WWW2) with current surveys of breeding populations suggesting that as few as 200 breeding pairs remain (WWW3). Though population decline is due to a number of factors including, predation (they are ground-nesting species), afforestation, and climate change, the greatest threat comes from habitat loss. Population decline can therefore be mitigated by emphasising the protection of localised habitats for endangered and migratory species. This is achieved through cross-border collaboration between EU member states.
WWW1 – Curlew
WWW1 – Iconic Wader in Trouble
WWW2 – 2017 Curlew Populations
The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) deals with the management of European fishing fleets, the conservation of fish stocks, and implements aquaculture control measures. Member states of the EU have equal access to all European waters to generate fair competition under this policy first introduced in the 1970s. Updated in 2014, the policy introduced several new limitations, such as the discard ban, and is comprised of four separate but interlinking components. These four areas are:
- Fisheries management
- International policy
- Market and trade policy
- Funding of the policy
A fisheries management plan is in place and is applicable to EU member states as a means of ensuring high long-term fishing yields for all stocks . This management system considers long term conservation of finite resources, while also being concerned with the sustainability and profitability of the industry for the various stakeholders. Another aspect of the policy is that of the discard ban. This restriction on commercial fishing was added to the new Common Fisheries Policy in 2014, and forces fishermen to land every individual fish caught as part of their total allowable catch. It is also referred to as a ‘landing obligation’.
Fisheries management is based on availability of accurate, reliable raw data, and scientific advice from scientific advisory boards such as:
- Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF)
- International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES)
- General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM)
This component of the CFP refers to the trade rules established between non-EU and Member States. The EU is the largest single market and a net importer of fish products and therefore plays a key role in promoting better governance. This is achieved through the creation and implementation of policies and legislation for the management of marine resources, in consultation with international partners such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (WWW1).
Market and trade Policy
This component refers to ‘The Common Organisation of the Markets’ which insures marketing standards to products sold in the EU market regardless of origin. In this way producers are responsible for sustainable exploitation of finite resources and the marketing of their product. By implementing common marketing standards to producers within member states, consumers receive more transparent information about the products they are purchasing. The information provided to the consumer is regulated by Consumer Information Rules with new rules becoming applicable on 13 December 2014.
Under the new rules, fish, molluscs, crustaceans and algae, products sold to consumers or mass caterers must bear the following information (WWW2):
- the commercial and scientific name of the species
- whether the product was caught at sea or in freshwater, or farmed
- the catch or production area and the type of fishing gear used to catch the product
- whether the product has been defrosted and the date of minimum durability (also known as the ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ date), in line with general food labeling rules
- detailed information regarding origin of catch/product
To learn more about the information provided to consumers, see this CFP information sheet: Tools for the World’s Largest Seafood Market
Funding of the Policy
This component sets minimum prices for seafood products and finances the buying up of unused fish.
- European Fisheries Fund (2007 – 2013)
The European fisheries Fund, provided funding to fishing industry and coastal communities to ‘help them adapt to changing conditions in the sector and become economically resilient and ecologically sustainable’ (WWW3). To facilitate this, 4.3 billion euro was made available to all sectors within the fishing industry (inland and sea fishing, aquaculture etc).
- European and Maritime Fisheries Fund (2014 – 2020)
This is one of five European Structural and Investment funds which seeks to promote jobs based recovery in Europe by:
- helping fishermen in the transition to sustainable fishing
- supporting coastal communities in diversifying their economies
- financing projects that create new jobs and improve quality of life along European coasts
- making it easier for applicants to access financing.
The EMFF in particular also provides investment support to small scale coastal fishermen by facilitating investment in training, conservation and stock rebuilding, and by investing in equipment such as first own fishing boats, engines and on board equipment.
Other aspects of the Common Fisheries Policy include, but are not limited to: implementation of quotas and Total Allowable Catches, fishing controls such as closures and minimum landing sizes, funding for the upgrading of vessels, gear, and processing methods. The policy also provides control and management frameworks to recreational fishers, and to the sustainability and low environmental impact of commercial fisheries and aquaculture facilities. These are just a few examples of what the policy entails, the entirety of which is laid out in EU Regulation No. 1380/2013 (2013).
WWW1 – Fishing Outside the EU
WWW2 – Consumer Information CFP
WWW3 – European Fisheries Fund