18th August

Coastal zone management: dead or alive?

Rick Boelens

What ever happened to coastal zone management (CZM)? More to the point, what plans does the Irish government have to introduce CZM in Ireland, if any? 

The concept that coastal environments and communities warrant special consideration in planning and development achieved international recognition following the UN Earth Summit (Rio de Janeiro) in 1992.

Prominently, page one of the marine chapter in the conference proceedings identifies integrated management and sustainable development of coastal areas, including exclusive economic zones, ‘as a priority’. Thus, the term Integrated Coastal Area Management (ICAM – the word zone was substituted later) was born. 

Dune system at Maghercarty, Co Donegal, part of the demonstration programme. During the 1990s, the EU Commission embraced ICZM as an area requiring co-ordinated European action

Dune system at Maghercarty, Co Donegal, part of the demonstration programme. During the 1990s, the EU Commission embraced ICZM as an area requiring co-ordinated European action

During the 1990s the EU Commission embraced Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) as an area requiring co-ordinated European action given the coast’s ‘critical value’, and in the belief that many of the problems have a ‘European dimension’.

Read more: Coastal zone management: dead or alive?

Why is marine biodiversity important?

Tompot Blenny. Photo Nigel Motyer

Bryan Deegan

When we look at the sea, it is usually hard to imagine what life is like and what species exist beneath the waves. We usually don't realise there is a whole different world down there, with its own mountains, valleys and animals, that only a few of us have seen and which remains largely unexplored. The Earth's tallest mountain, longest mountain range and deepest canyon are all found in the ocean.

The seas off Ireland are a fascinating world full of magical organisms from tiny microscopic plants, much smaller than the eye can see, to some of the world’s biggest animals. The variety of living things that exists in this soup of biological sea life is called marine biodiversity. Another aspect of marine biodiversity that is very important for long-term survival of a species is the different makeup of individuals within a species. This is called genetic diversity.

Read more: Why is marine biodiversity important?

Irish government yet to be tested on Water Framework Directive

River Shannon, part of the Shannon River Basin. Photo Paddy Mackey, SWAN

Sinead OBrien, SWAN

There is a wind of change turning the tide for Ireland’s waters. Political complacency and foot-dragging on water protection is no longer an option. The force behind this turning tide is the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD).

It may sound like just another piece of EU jargon but don’t let the name put you off. The WFD is one of the most radical and ambitious pieces of environmental legislation to ever emerge from the EU. If it is implemented properly, it has the potential to put an end to all major water pollution in Ireland. It may sound incredible, but the Sustainable Water Network (SWAN) believes that with political will and real public involvement, it is possible.

Read more: Irish government yet to be tested on Water Framework Directive

Be(a)ware of the Water Framework Directive!

Rick Boelens, Lough Derg Science Group

The Water Framework Directive (WFD), introduced in December 2000, requires EU countries to maintain or restore good ecological and chemical quality in all surface and underground waterbodies − from mountain streams, through lowland rivers and lakes − to estuaries and lagoons (transitional waters) and coastal waters up to one nautical mile from shore.

This ambitious goal is to be achieved in stages, marked by a series of planning and reporting deadlines, with overall compliance by 2015.

The environmental benefits of the WFD are potentially very great and generally will be welcomed by everyone. But the WFD comes at a price. At present, only a small circle of organisations and State agencies are sufficiently well informed to comprehend the full implications of the Directive. So far there has been surprisingly little public debate on the topic. As almost every Irish citizen will be affected by the Directive, this cannot continue indefinitely. Why, one wonders, is the government PR machine so silent on the matter?  Could it be that some of the measures required by the WFD might prove unpopular?

Read more: Be(a)ware of the Water Framework Directive!

Threat to premier west coast shellfish ground

& Gery Flynn

All-inclusive participation required for management of Clew Bay. Photo Shay FennellyAll-inclusive participation required for management of Clew Bay. Photo Shay Fennelly

Shellfish producers in Clew Bay have told Inshore Ireland they are extremely concerned over proposals by Mayo County Council to discharge leachate from its Derrinumera landfill into Newport Bay.

“The proposed discharge point is less than half a mile from several native oyster beds in the estuary of one of the country’s finest salmon rivers, the Burrishoole,” Alan Stoney, secretary of the Clew Bay Oyster Co-operative said.

According to Stoney, the intended mechanism to render the effluent ‘safe’ is to dilute it sufficiently with the water in Clew Bay.

Read more: Threat to premier west coast shellfish ground

Groundwater and the Water Framework Directive

Diagrammatic illustration of a groundwater body showing the range of receptors that must be considered in implementation of the WFD.© GSI

Diagrammatic illustration of a groundwater body showing the range of receptors that must be considered in implementation of the WFD.© GSI 

Donal Daly, GSI

Progress is always pleasing to report. In the last three years, the implementation of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and the work undertaken by the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI), Teagasc, EPA and RBD (river basin district) consultants have advanced considerably the role and understanding of groundwater in Ireland. 

Goundwater has been ‘characterised’, and in the process a new aquifer map of Ireland has been produced. All readily available groundwater data have been collected, soils and subsoils mapping have been undertaken, the hydrochemistry of groundwater has been assessed, and over 700 ‘groundwater bodies’ (the management units of the WFD) have been delineated and described.

Read more: Groundwater and the Water Framework Directive

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