Deputy Thomas Pringle slammed the Government for recklessly trying to rush the motion on the country’s first National Marine Planning Framework through the Oireachtas.
Addressing the Dáil on the motion on the new framework, Deputy Pringle said the disgraceful way in which the motion is being rushed through brought the whole Oireachtas process into disrepute.
Deputy Pringle said: “The way in which you are attempting to rush this motion through without proper process, scrutiny or recommendations is completely reckless and will lead to legal challenges down the line. Why can this Government never have foresight? I’ve said this before, that it is so disheartening to work within such a reactive system.”
He had also raised his concerns about Government’s treatment of the motion in the Dáil earlier this week, and in the Business Committee.
Deputy Pringle said: “It was also telling that fishermen were never consulted in relation to this, the people who actually work on the sea and use the sea to earn their living were never consulted in relation to what you’re proposing to do.”
The deputy asked why marine protected areas were not included in the framework, saying that Government targets called for 10% of Irish seas to be marine protected areas by 2020, increasing to 30% by 2030.
But to date, just 2.3% of Irish seas are MPAs, and the department’s advisory group’s report, Expanding Ireland’s Marine Protected Area Network, is open for public consultation until July 30th, 2021, he said.
He said the website states that the Department intends to begin developing legislation on the identification, designation and management of MPAs later in 2021 and asked, “How can these things be worked on separately?”
The deputy said the excuse that Ireland is late for transposition of the EU directive, “doesn’t hold water”. The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union adopted the directive in 2014, he said.
Deputy Pringle said: “This regulation was originally transposed in 2016 and then repealed and replaced in October 2018. The marine spatial plan was supposed to be in place by March 2021. This has been in the pipeline for years.
“We are asking for a few weeks to undertake proper scrutiny and make recommendations. A few weeks will not make a difference to the EU but will make a huge difference to the future of our marine estate. And I think this is far too important.”
Deputy Pringle also credited the Irish Wildlife Trust for hosting the first town hall meeting on marine protected areas yesterday in Donegal.
He said: “We have a lot of dedicated activists and groups who want the best for our beautiful country.”