The Iroise Marine Natural Park is a remarkable area boasting outstanding natural resources and playing host to traditional fishing activities. Located at the tip of Finistère between the island of Sein, Ouessant and the limits of the territorial sea, the Park protects 350 000 hectares of marine area. The cultural heritage is extremely varied and marked by majestic offshore lighthouses which make seafarers dream. And the Iroise contains surprising biodiversity consisting of dozens of species of algae, marine mammals, birds and other less well-known or simply more discreet species. In addition to being listed as a marine nature park, it is a marine protected area under the Oslo-Paris convention (OSPAR) and a large part of its perimeter is listed under the European Habitats and Birds directives (Network 2000 directives) and as a UNESCO biosphere reserve. The site was one of the Pilot Sites for the Green List that first got certified in 2014.
The Iroise Natural Marine Park was created in 2007 in order to protect 3,500km² of the Celtic Sea in France. The park hosts 2 coastal bottlenose dolphin groups, one of the most important gray seal populations in France and is seasonally an important area for other cetaceans such as common dolphins, harbour porpoises, fin whales, Risso’s dolphins and others.
The first management plan of the marine park was established in 2010, covers a 15-year period and it aims to maintain functional areas for marine mammals, with special regard to bottlenose dolphins, gray seals and small cetaceans. With current MPA management plan up for renewal in 2025, the Iroise Natural Marine Park undertook the Lite version of the Self-Assessment Tool (SAT-Lite) to take a step back from the actions and understand how well the current management practices take into account marine mammals.
The Iroise Nature Marine Park found the information provided by the results of the SAT-LITE very interesting and insightful. Good scores were received for the management framework, management effectiveness and outreach engagement themes, with relatively low scores for the activities and threats theme. The results evidenced that while activities to reduce threats arising from whale watching and bycatch are in place, they don’t seem to be very effective. Moreover, the Toolkit helped the Iroise Natural Marine Park in highlighting that threats, such as noise, collision and entanglement were not taken enough into consideration in the current management plan, with the mitigation of noise being regarded as a priority for the future management framework.
According to the Iroise Marine Natural Park, using the SAT-LITE and the Marine Mammals Management Toolkit was a very good exercise: it provided a new, innovative way to evaluate the current management and helped define priorities for the 2025-2040 management plan in order to effectively conserve marine mammals in Iroise.
Source: Cecile Cicquel – Iroise Nature Marine Park