Carlingford Lough is a multiple-designation marine protected area (MPA). Through its designated status as both a Special Area of Conservation (EU Habitats Directive) and a Special Protection Area (EU Birds Directive), it is part of the Natura 2000 network of protected areas. It is listed under the Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance and a nationally-designated Marine Conservation Zone and Area of Special Scientific Interest on its Northern Irish shore. It is also part of the OSPAR Commission’s North East Atlantic Network of MPAs (Region III – Celtic Seas). These multiple designations should, in theory, improve the management and monitoring of Carlingford Lough due to the legally-binding nature of most of these designating authorities (e.g. the European Commission or the OSPAR Commission).
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are be designated for many reasons, from nature conservation to fisheries management, and are considered successful if they can meet their biological objectives while maintaining sustainable use. This means taking into consideration not just environmental sustainability (i.e. ecological resilience) but also socioeconomic sustainability – maintaining the cultural and economic services that the area provides. Stakeholder involvement in MPA management is necessary to ensure a functional balance between nature conservation and human activity, because research shows that when stakeholders are not aware of and not involved in MPA management and governance, biodiversity suffers. This respect and inclusion of stakeholders in protected area decision-making is known as equitable governance and it is one of the aims of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) for improving the status of biodiversity by protecting ecosystems, species, and genetic diversity. Aichi Target 11 of the CBD calls for ‘effectively and equitably managed’ protected areas. However, equity tends to be overlooked in protected area management assessments.
A study conducted by Constance Schéré, a PhD candidate at King’s College London studying marine conservation in the Irish Sea, is exploring the role equity (i.e. fairness and inclusion) plays in MPA effectiveness.
Carlingford Lough is one of three case-study sites included in her research. In order to fully understand the state of equitable conservation in the Irish Sea, this study is looking to recruit participants in the Carlingford Lough area to part in a short, fully anonymous online survey on their computer or smartphone.
This survey is open to anyone with an interest in the conservation and protection of the lough. It should take about 15 minutes to complete and all participants who complete the survey can choose to be entered into a prize draw to win 1 of 3 Amazon gift cards, worth up to €100.
Participants can also choose to be interviewed (by phone or by Skype) to elaborate on any issues or good practices they feel are most important regarding how Carlingford Lough is being managed and protected. Since the survey is fully anonymous, identities will not be revealed in the study results even if participants choose to be interviewed.
The link to the survey can be found here: http://www.tiny.cc/carlingfordlough or you can use the QR code below.