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It’s said that Clew Bay has 365 islands – one for each day of the year.

Clew Bay sits, sheltered, off the Atlantic Ocean, in County Mayo in Ireland. Glaciers made these islands. In melting, they created small pockets of land among the rising seas. The islands are known as ‘drumlins’ – a name with origins in the Irish word, droiroimnín, meaning ‘littlest ridge’.

The number of islands and the complex series of interlocking bays provides both shelter and oxygen-enriched waters. It’s an excellent location for the cultivation and capture of both shellfish and finfish. The bays are highly productive, and their unique environments provide shelter for fishing activities to take place all throughout the year.

In 2022, we had the opportunity to undertake a Natural Capital Accounting project in Clew Bay. We tested and demonstrated the application of a natural capital approach for the Irish seafood sector.

A diagram outlining the different aspects of the seafood industry in Clew Bay

This work has allowed us to show the links between the environment and the economy. This, in turn, allows for more informed decision-making at the community, industry and government levels.

We developed a set of recommendations for the seafood sector and the Irish Government to put in place in the future. If implemented, these recommendations will lead to better decisions and better outcomes in all areas of capital – natural, human, social and produced.

This work was undertaken through the Knowledge Gateway Scheme, which was established under Union Priority 2 of Ireland’s Operational Programme under the EMFF. It was co-funded by the Irish Government and the EU.

Please download our Synthesis report, Natural capital accounting for Clew Bay, Ireland for more information.