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Basking sharks get special protected status in Ireland

Basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus), Baltimore, Cork, Ireland – stock photo

Basking sharks are to get special protection under new regulations that have been introduced in the Republic of Ireland.

They are now protected under Ireland’s Wildlife Act.

The basking shark is a globally-threatened species, which faces a high risk of extinction.

Basking sharks are one of the largest species of the shark family.

They are the second largest species of any fish, reaching sizes in excess of ten meters and weighing several tons.

Each year, between May and October, they visit UK and Irish waters.

When an animal like the basking shark is protected under the act, it is an offense to hunt or injure them, unless done so under permission or license granted by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

It is also an offense to willfully interfere with, or destroy, the breeding or resting places of such species.

The move had been announced previously, but came into effect from midnight on Monday.

Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan and Minister for the Marine Charlie McConalogue. made the announcement on Monday.

In Northern Ireland, basking sharks are protected under the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985. It makes it illegal to intentionally kill, injure or harass basking sharks in UK waters.

Basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus), Baltimore, Cork, Ireland - stock photo

Basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus), Baltimore, Cork, Ireland – stock photo

The International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies them as endangered on its red list of globally threatened species.

As well as the protections in the act, a code of conduct is also being drawn up for wildlife watchers by Ireland’s National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) so people can be responsible and safe in their interactions with basking sharks in Irish waters.

The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage said the new law would ensure compliance with, and strong awareness of, best practice for those observing such species.

Mr Noonan said that the strengthening of the protections show that Ireland will “play its part in offering improved protection to an endangered species that depends on our territorial waters to survive and flourish”.

“We are living in an age of mass extinction.

“There is an urgent responsibility on all of us to do everything we can to reverse that trend,” he added.

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