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PISCES Unites Country To Protect The Celtic Sea


GENERAL - This pioneering 2.1M project launches today (10 May) to help ensure a sustainable future for the Celtic Sea.

The Celtic Sea is renowned for its exceptional biodiversity. Almost every type of whale species on the planet passes through this area and it is a hotspot for nesting birds such as puffins and gannets. However this stretch of water is also one of the most heavily used areas in the world, and its over-use is causing major problems for the sea's wildlife and the thousands of people whose livelihoods depend on it.

Now, PISCES, funded by European Commission LIFE, is looking at how we can protect this dynamic ecosystem from pressures such as pollution, physical disturbances and over-fishing. PISCES is uniting those who use the Sea in Ireland, France, Spain and the United Kingdom to find sustainable solutions that enable marine activities like coastal recreation, shipping, offshore infrastructure and fisheries to continue without jeopardising marine wildlife.

Colin Pringle, PISCES project manager says: ‘The Celtic Sea is worth millions to Europe's economy, but we’re placing too many demands on an over-stretched ecosystem. It's really encouraging that so many sectors, across so many countries, recognise the need to collaborate and coordinate their activities – their involvement with PISCES is a really positive step.

Partner organisations from four countries are helping bring people together to develop guidelines across their sectors. WWF-UK is leading the project in partnership with WWF-Spain and The Environment Council with additional support from SeaWeb and the Coastal & Marine Resources Centre, University College Cork.

Mr Pringle continues: ‘The Celtic Sea is a unique part of our natural and cultural heritage, where people and wildlife are intrinsically entwined. A few hundred years ago, people thought this area was so rich in fish stocks that we could never possibly run out. Sadly, today we are seeing some fish and other wildlife steadily decline as human pressures in the area continue to grow. But this new project offers hope. PISCES is working to ensure a future where both wildlife and people flourish.’

By 2012, people using the sea will have some clear guidance so that they can operate more sustainably. The exciting thing about this project is that these guidelines are not being developed in an office at a policy level: They are going to be developed by the people who are using the sea on a daily basis. What’s more, they’ll be using an ecosystem approach, which means thinking holistically about all the elements of the sea – its wildlife, its physical processes and even human interactions. Everybody has a vested interest in safeguarding these waters, so there is a real chance of developing practical, long-term solutions that people will actually want to adopt.