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Marine Habitat Protection in Sea Areas under the Jurisdiction of a Coastal Member State of the European Union: The Case of Deep-Water Coral Conservation in Ireland

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image of The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law

This article proposes a legal framework for the conservation of deep-water coral in the sea area under the coastal state jurisdiction of Ireland. Two potential risks from human activities to the conservation of deep-water coral are considered. These are commercial fishing activity and the exploration and exploitation activities of the offshore oil and gas industry. The article reviews the relevant provisions of the Law of the Sea Convention (LOSC) as they apply to Ireland and mentions several international legal instruments and initiatives that may influence the shape of an effective conservation and management regime. The potential application of European environmental law (the Habitats Directive) to protect deep-water coral in the maritime areas beyond the territorial sea and the interaction between European environmental law and the European common fisheries policy are discussed. This article concludes by suggesting a number of actions that could be taken at European and at coastal state levels to protect the unique ecosystems associated with deep-water coral.

Affiliations: 1: European Commercial Law, School of Law, National University of Ireland, Galway; 2: Martin Ryan Institute, National University of Ireland, Galway


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