Beatrick Kelly, Heritage Council
Ireland’s maritime heritage is a critical element of this nation’s well-being. In addition to its intrinsic value, our seas and coasts generate important economic activities such as ports and harbours, fishing, aquaculture, as well as providing space for recreation and tourism. The coastline is home for much of the population and is shared with by many plant and animal species, reports Beatrice Kelly, Heritage Council.
Over the past year and a half, the marine and coastal committee of the Heritage Council has been drafting policies for Ireland’s maritime heritage, so as to ensure that all elements – natural, cultural and built – can be maintained and enhanced for future generations.
Much of our maritime heritage (land and sea-based) is under ever-increasing pressure from human activity. Protection of our heritage must be a key part of sustainable development, whereby policies to encourage social and economic growth are equalled by policies to protect the environment and heritage.
The primary recommendation is a cohesive strategy for the sustainable use and development of marine and coastal areas. It also identifies important heritage features and provides for their long-term protection.
The strategy should include a management framework for environmental protection and management, and a comprehensive review of relevant policies and measures currently in place and their efficacy to date. Importantly, a campaign to raise awareness and improve education regarding maritime heritage should also be part of the strategy.
| Areas of maritime heritage
The second half of the document is devoted to specific aspects of maritime heritage. These include: coastal landscapes; water quality; biodiversity; fisheries; off-shore resources; cultural heritage; boats; islands, and activities that impact on these such as climate change, recreation and tourism.
Recommendations in these areas include:
These recommendations will shortly be sent to Dick Roche T.D., Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government. Many of the actions proposed, however, will require the co-operation and agreement of other government departments and agencies.