Irish marine environment rated "healthy"

First comprehensive assessment of seas and coasts highlights reduced pollution levels

Ireland's marine environment is in a good condition, according to a report prepared as part of an inter-governmental programme to clean up the north-east sector of the Atlantic Ocean. A survey by the country's Marine Institute finds that anti-pollution measures have "improved significantly" and that where biological changes do occur in marine areas due to pollution, they are localised, frequently seasonal and "in all cases reversible". The improvement has come despite a long-term decline in Irish river water quality announced last month (ENDS Daily 20 May). Nevertheless, some persistent pollutants will take "decades" to decline significantly and there are still some important gaps in knowledge, such as the long-term impact of human activities on some species, the report says. The dossier is Ireland's contribution to a quality status report (QSR) for the "Celtic Seas" region of the Atlantic, one of five being prepared under the auspices of the Ospar convention (ENDS Daily 23 July 1998). After publication later this year, the reports will be consolidated into the first comprehensive assessment of the north-east Atlantic - known as QSR2000. This is intended to provide a foundation for future policy development within Ospar, which aims to reduce "close to zero" levels of pollutants such as radionuclides from the UK's Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant. The Irish report noted that although this type of pollution poses no health hazard, it was nevertheless "objectionable and unacceptable to the Irish people."

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