Ireland: Legislation introduced make basking sharks a protected species

News Release

Social Democrats, Ireland

13 May, 2021

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Basking sharks are one of our most treasured species, but unfortunately Irish governments have never protected them

Social Democrats TD, and Spokesperson for the Environment, Jennifer Whitmore has today introduced a Bill to the Dáil to make basking sharks a protected species.

Deputy Whitmore said:

“Basking sharks are the world’s second largest fish and they are regular visitors to our shores. Around this time every year, we can catch glimpses of these majestic creatures as they slowly meander up our western coast.

“In fact, recent studies have indicated that Ireland could be home to between 10-20pc of the world’s basking shark population at any one time. Of the eight known coastal surface hotspots for basking sharks in the Northeast Atlantic, five are located on the Irish west coast – in Cork, Kerry, Clare, Mayo and Donegal.

“Irish people may love basking sharks, and delight when they see their tall fins breaking the surface of the water, but unfortunately Irish governments have never protected them. This is especially difficult to understand given basking sharks are now an endangered species.

“Basking sharks have been protected in UK waters since 1998, but in Irish waters a person can disturb, approach, harm or harass a basking shark without consequence. This is not good enough.

“Today, I have brought forward a Bill to add basking sharks to the list of protected species in the Wildlife Act. This will help give them the protection they deserve – and need. Given National Biodiversity week begins on Saturday, May 15th, it is an apt time to move forward with this legislation.

“We need to treasure our natural heritage, our biodiversity and our own iconic species and afford basking sharks the same protections that other countries afford them, as we do with whales and dolphins.

“I hope animal lovers all over the country, who enjoy seeing An Liabhán Chor Gréine – the great fish of the sun – every year, will support me and join the campaign the protect basking sharks.

“If there were cross-part political support for this Bill it could be speedily enacted so that this beautiful creature can continue be enjoyed every year by future generations of Irish people.”

Source: Social Democrats, Ireland

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