CHANGING TIDES: Is life in our marine protected areas safe or still in danger?
13 Backers raised €315 of €1790

Water quality along Ireland’s coast has further declined in recent years even within marine protected areas (MPAs), those regions set aside to safeguard ocean life.

The result: A continued biodiversity loss in Irish waters.

The poor performance of Ireland’s MPAs has led environmentalists to fear that, without proper management, marine life will continue to be at risk.

Our investigation will expose local and national obstacles preventing marine habitats from thriving in supposedly safe protected areas.


Ireland’s protected maritime area has rapidly expanded from just over 2% in early 2023 to almost 10% now.

But the level of protection afforded by the MPA designation here is considered too minimal to be meaningful. Destructive fishing practices such as bottom trawling and dredging still occur in many of these zones.

To offer real protection, experts say MPAs must, at least, exclude serious threats such as extractive industries. What’s more, to comply with international commitments, Ireland must grow the current figure, protecting 30% of our ocean area by 2030.

Our team will examine if being designated as an MPA currently results in any practical action or protection in Irish waters.

New legislation on MPAs is set to be published soon. It has been promised for a number of years but the initial draft of the bill - published in December 2022 - was criticised as falling short by a number of groups.

Our reporter will speak to researchers, policy experts and locals who make a living from our coastal waters to find out what is needed from an MPA law and, once the bill is published, whether it goes far enough.

Want to see this investigation happen? Click the 'Fund This Proposal' button.

Reporting for this investigation will be supported, in part, by the Pulitzer Centre, as part of its Deep Dives Initiative. The crowdfunding target covers the cost for Noteworthy to undertake this project.

You can contact us at and find out how we work here. Our investigations are sourced from and crowdfunded by the public.

13 Backers raised €315 of €1790
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