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 pressure 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 is not always affordable. Limited funding 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, 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.
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.