Unesco award for Dublin Bay 'like winning lottery'
An increase in visitors is expected on the beaches of Dublin after the coastline was granted a prestigious accolade which will conserve and protect the inlet.
Dublin Bay has been awarded the internationally recognised Unesco Biosphere Reserve achievement.
Lord Mayor Christy Burke said the accolade was like "winning the lottery."
"It's a tremendous status and a terrific day for Dublin, what a great boost for the bay," Mr Burke told the Herald.
"It will protect the habitat and wildlife that's here and it's worldwide recognition for our shores."
The Lord Mayor said he was delighted the shoreline would finally be getting the recognition it deserved.
"Huge work and commitment went into this. The environmentalists put a lot of effort in for years and years and this is the fruits of their input and commitment," Mr Burke added.
Minister for Jobs, Richard Bruton, said the award would have many positive effects.
"It's an immense opportunity for the people of Dublin. It will be a magnet for tourism so we can build sustainable enterprises as well as having a fantastic natural asset," he told the Herald.
He also said the new title was important for the future of the coastline and its waters.
Others attending the announcement in Clontarf were Mayor of Fingal David O'Connor, chief executive of Dublin Port Company, Eamon O'Reilly and Helen McDaid, manager of the Dublin Programme Team for Failte Ireland.
Ms McDaid said the honour meant that Dublin Bay and the city now had a "fantastic future".
"Getting this status will help to ensure that more tourists visit the bay and make it an integral part of their visit to Dublin," she said.
"Dublin Bay is ten minutes from the city centre. There's so much to be done. You can go to Howth, a beautiful little fishing village and eat in great restaurants or visit the marina in Malahide and walk along the strand to Portmarnock."
Also launched at the announcement was the Dublin Bay Biosphere Partnership which was created to promote the Bay as a Unesco Biosphere Reserve site.
"Now it's job is to spread the news and bring in the tourists and encourage it to be explored," the Lord Mayor said.
Biosphere Reserves are listed to conserve and develop areas with particular emphasis on involvement of local communities. They also act as a site of excellence for training and education.
The designated sites are nominated by national governments and remain under the sovereign jurisdiction of the states where they are located.