Aoife O’Mahony
Author: David O'Leary
2024

Aoife O’Mahony

Ocean Advocate

Ocean optimist

meet aoife

Aoife O’Mahony, Campaign Manager for Fair Seas, stands as a dedicated advocate for marine conservation. With over two decades of experience in communications and project management, Aoife has spearheaded a new national initiative to protect Ireland’s marine environment. Under her leadership, Fair Seas produced new reports on Marine Protected Areas and sustainable financing of MPAs, hosted Ireland’s first MPA Conference, and conducted the inaugural Ocean Literacy Survey in Ireland. Aoife also championed the first-ever Hope Spot in Ireland, The Greater Skellig Coast, and has been appointed an official Sustainable Development Goal champion for 2023/2024 by the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications. Aoife has been recognized as a key figure driving positive change in Ireland’s environmental landscape as one of the 100 women changing Ireland in 2023.

Ocean optimist
Nominated by: Ted Janulis, MN'95
Class of 2024 Location Ireland
Aoife, Alissa Fleury and Anar Devee at the launch of Ireland's first Marine Protected Area Report “Revitalising our Seas” with a map of the areas of interest for designation
Aoife, Alissa Fleury and Anar Devee at the launch of Ireland's first Marine Protected Area Report “Revitalising our Seas” with a map of the areas of interest for designation

We are bombarded daily with disheartening climate and biodiversity news articles highlighting the dual crises we are facing. It’s hard to stay inspired when the news is so negative and so dire, but we can all do something to make a difference. As the great Oceanographer Dr Sylvia Earle said, “We have to look in the mirror first. What are we doing? How can we make a change? It always starts with looking in the mirror. Every individual can. Every individual can make a difference either by proactively doing something positive or by doing nothing. That’s a decision, too.”

I am lucky to have three small children who are passionate about nature on land and at sea.  They are my inspiration. The next generation is well aware of the climate and biodiversity crises but it is my generation that has the opportunity and responsibility to make a difference. If I can use my skills as a project manager to make a small difference in our fight to conserve our oceans, at least I will have tried to make the change I want to see in the world for my children.

“I am lucky to have three small children who are passionate about nature on land and at sea. They are my inspiration. The next generation is well aware of the climate and biodiversity crises but it is my generation that has the opportunity and responsibility to make a difference.”

- Aoife O’Mahony
Aoife O’Mahony onboard the IWDG Celtic Mist at the launch of the Fair Seas Conference
Aoife O’Mahony onboard the IWDG Celtic Mist at the launch of the Fair Seas Conference Author: Clare Keogh

The Fair Seas campaign is the first national marine conservation campaign in Ireland focused primarily on Marine Protected Areas. Ireland has an ocean area seven times the size of its landmass and should be a leader in Marine Protection. We are not. 

I hope the work of the campaign and all the coalition partners will lead to a step change in Ireland where we begin to lead on ocean conservation as a large island ocean nation rather than a laggard with paper protection for marine wildlife. 

The campaign has gathered scientific data, financial data and researched the state of ocean literacy in Ireland alongside advocating for robust legislation. All this data and advocacy should guide the designation of effectively managed Marine Protected Areas in Ireland. We want to see Ireland as a leader in achieving the 30×30 goal in the next few years to help combat both the climate and biodiversity crises.

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