THREE Wildlife Trusts have received £300,000 to champion and protect important wildlife and habitats in the Irish Sea.

The five-year grant has been awarded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation to fund staff to carry out important marine policy work and promotion across the North West of England and wider Irish Sea.

The grant includes the recruitment of a new project officer and will facilitate the collaboration with other Wildlife Trusts and key organisations around the Irish Sea to help conserve marine life.

Martin Varley, Director of Operations at Cheshire Wildlife Trust, said: “This is great news for the North West and marine wildlife. The funding will enable us to continue our work to protect and lobby for Marine Protected Areas as well as raise awareness about issues affecting our marine life and champion the sustainable management of our seas.”

Dr Emily Baxter, Senior Marine Conservation Officer for the North West Wildlife Trusts, added: “This is fantastic news! This is a significant grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. It means that we can continue and expand our work towards protecting the Irish Sea over the next five years. It will build our capacity to lobby on important issues such as Marine Protected Areas and sustainable fisheries. It will also support collaborative working with other Wildlife Trusts and external bodies in the six countries around the Irish Sea. This is incredibly important, allowing us to work across administrative boundaries and build up a complete picture of the state of the Irish Sea as a single ecological area.”

Since 2010, the North West Wildlife Trusts (Cumbria, Lancashire and Cheshire) have been working together to protect marine life the Irish Sea. The charities’ campaigning work has included securing public and political support for the designation of 10 Marine Conservation Zones in the Irish Sea; including five areas off the coast of Cumbria. Ancient clams, sea pens, fish, honeycomb worm reefs, burrowing anemones and razorbills are just some of the wildlife species that will benefit from the Marine Conservation Zones in the Irish Sea. In addition, the Trusts have worked closely with regulators and other stakeholders to ensure that these areas are do not become ‘paper parks’ – instead ensuring that the conservation areas appropriately managed to benefit diversity communities of marine life and healthy habitats, as well as blue carbon stocks and productive fisheries.

Jenny Dadd, Grants Manager for the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, said: “ This grant will fit well with work planned under the new strategy for the Foundation, which is due to launch in May 2020. As part of that, we will be encouraging organisations to work more closely together. This project will help environmental charities, state agencies and other stakeholders to collaborate more effectively on marine issues across the Irish Sea.”

The North West Wildlife Trusts also work closely with local communities, inspiring people of all ages to care for our seas and marine life. They do this through a wide-reaching programme across the North West; running events and activities, offering volunteering opportunities, delivering sessions in schools and out on the coast, and working with corporate organisations.

Find out more about how the North West Wildlife Trusts protect the Irish Sea at