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About us

Irish Sea Conservation Zones worked with the people who use, enjoy and make their living from the Irish Sea.

We helped them to play a role in recommending which areas of the Irish Sea should receive further environmental protection, and what form that protection should take. 

The final recommendations for Marine Conservation Zones were passed to the government in August 2011. 

We were one of four similar projects around England and Wales. The other regional projects were Net Gain in the North Sea, Balanced Seas in south-east England and Finding Sanctuary in south-west England.  

The four regional teams were part of the national Marine Conservation Zone project, which was established by Defra, Natural England and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee to identify and recommend marine conservation zones to the government.

How we worked

The recommendations for Marine Conservation Zones in the Irish Sea project area were made by the Regional Stakeholder Group.

This group of around 40 people was set up by the project with guidance from an independent facilitator. It involved people with a wide variety of interests and expertise in the Irish Sea, from commercial fishing to marine industries to recreational uses. 

This was the first time that such a ‘stakeholder led’ process was used in the UK to help identify and recommend marine areas for protection. 

An independent, professional facilitator was in charge of setting up the Regional Stakeholder Group and running the eight workshops during which the group developed its recommendations.

The recommended sites had to meet certain scientific criteria, while seeking to minimise the social and economic costs and maximise the benefits to society.