Rockabill is huge ‘conservation success story’ says panel of experts visiting the Skerries island


A coalition of Ireland’s leading environmental non-governmental organisations and networks has led a boat trip to the Rockabill islands off the coast of Skerries.

reland has publicly committed to support the goal to protect 30% of the global ocean by 2030.

Just 2% of Irish waters are currently protected and Fair Seas has published a new report aimed at kick-starting the conversation around the location of Marine Protected Areas.

The study identifies 16 ‘Areas of Interest’ covering 175,504km2 of Ireland’s ocean territory. It provides information on where to best protect marine species based on the geographic distributions of 87 species.

A 120 second video called ‘A Letter from the Sea’ is narrated by Irish environmental scientist Dr. Tara Shine from Change by Degrees and emphasises the importance of protecting our oceans to give species, habitats and coastal communities the opportunity to thrive. It was created by Dublin-based agency Thinkhouse.

Rockabill is located 6km from Skerries and is home to the most important Roseate Tern colony in all of Europe.

Rockabill to Dalkey Islands is the largest Special Area of Conservation off the East Coast which extends to 273km2.

Fair Seas has proposed that an area extending to more than 4,300km2 from Carlingford Lough to Wicklow Head be looked at when considering Marine Protected Areas.

Fair Seas Campaign Manager Aoife O’Mahony says: “Ireland has a truly unique and fascinating marine environment.

“Today we organised two boats for stakeholders and Fair Seas representatives to see Rockabill. It’s where thousands of Roseate Terns travel to from West Africa each year to breed each year.

“It is only when you visit places like Rockabill, the Saltees, Blaskets or any number of islands off our coast that you see just how important Ireland is to so many different species.

“Our ocean territory is home to endangered sharks, globally important seabird colonies, and animals threatened with extinction.

“It is vital that we act now to restore critical habitats, safeguard wildlife and help address the climate crisis.

“The time for action is now and our report is the starting point.”

Linda Lennon, CEO of BirdWatch Ireland said: “Rockabill is arguably Ireland’s greatest conservation success story.

“Through dedicated conservation work by BirdWatch Ireland in collaboration with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Roseate Tern population increased by over 10-fold between 1989 and 2021.

“This is proof that targeted conservation efforts work.

“Ultimately though what happens or doesn’t happen in the sea around colonies will seal the fate of seabirds.

“It’s not just the nest site that needs protection, it’s everything around it. Significant and large scale conservation efforts at seabird colonies and at sea are urgently needed.”

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