IWDG review of the NPWS National Cetacean Protection Strategy

30th Mar 2015

Following legal and public consultation, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) published the Conservation Plan for Cetaceans in Irish Waters in December 2009. This plan was in response to the European Court of Justices ruling that Ireland had failed to fulfil the requirements listed in the Habitats Directive regarding the protection of cetaceans in Ireland. The conservation plan discusses the ecology of Irish cetaceans, the threats they face, and what must be done to address those threats.

The NPWS also produced a delivery schedule for actions listed in the Conservation Plan for Cetaceans in Irish Waters which measures the level of completion of each action by describing what has been done, or is currently being done, in order to progress on these matters. These actions focus on i) “designating and monitoring SACs (Special Areas of Conservation), (ii) ensuring general regulatory and administrative functions are sufficiently rigorous, and (iii) pursuing an integrated strategy for general surveillance of cetaceans” (NPWS).

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) welcome this plan and delivery schedule which forms the cornerstone of cetacean conservation in Ireland and is quite unique at a European level. To ensure full delivery of the National Cetacean Protection Strategy the IWDG have carried out a review of its delivery. The review was carried out by Stephanie Levesque on behalf of the IWDG.

The Conservation Plan lists 41 actions. We have evaluated each action listed in the delivery schedule to assess whether they have been completed and are pleased to see the progress that has been made. IWDG sought clarification from the NPWS on some actions in order to properly assess their delivery, however IWDG received no response from the NPWS and have continued with the review in their absence.

IWDG requested copies/results of the studies, reports, discussions etc. mentioned in the actions which were said to be completed or underway at that time. For the actions relating to fisheries practices, gear and risk assessments, we asked to see progress reports on areas outside of SACs. Information regarding actions for which no information was given was also requested, such as updates on collaborations with marine tourist operators to establish best practise guidelines and a permit system based on the amount of risk the cetaceans could face by the operators.

In this review, the delivery schedule is presented to show the initial action, the time-frame for the completion of that action, its progress up to June 2013, IWDG comments, and finally the rating given to that action based on its level of completion. 

The IWDG rating system is as follows:

i) Insufficient information/ requested information not received

ii) Completed

iii) Partially completed/requested information not received

IWDG welcome the progress made with nineteen actions of the 41 presented have been completed. The IWDG note that six actions have not been addressed at all and sixteen actions are incomplete and the IWDG hope to see this progress with the se outstanding actions

Given the importance of this plan IWDG will continue to work with, and encourage, the NPWS to fully deliver on this plan within reasonable timeframes.

The NPWS document Conservation Plan for Cetaceans in Irish Waters can be downloaded from their website:  Conservation Plan for Irish Cetaceans ( [5MB]) 

The IWDG review is attached here: