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Natural Resources

Objective of the Natural Resources Section: 

The objective of the Natural Resources section is to sustainably exploit and manage Ireland’s inland fisheries, geological resources and oil and gas reserves. The Natural Resources sector makes a significant contribution to the Irish economy by employing approximately 30,000 people and contributing circa 3.0% of Ireland’s Gross National Product.

Ireland has over 77,000 kilometres of freshwater rivers and streams and a quarter of a million hectares of lakes, therefore inland fisheries are a substantial natural resource. The department oversees the protection, management and development of these inland fisheries.

Mining is of particular importance in Ireland, especially for the metal known as zinc. Ireland is Europe’s largest producer of zinc and one of the top 10 producers of zinc worldwide. 40% of Ireland’s land area is currently under mining exploration authorisations. The department is constantly advancing Ireland’s geoscience knowledge through the work of the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI).

Hydrocarbon is an energy source that is created when carbon and hydrogen, provided by decomposed organic matter, bonds together. It is found naturally occurring on Earth, usually in the form of crude oil, and can be extracted and processed to be used as a combustible fuel source. Hydrocarbons can be processed into different forms, e.g. petroleum, methane, paraffins, bitumen and benzene. They can also be used as the raw materials for certain dyes, pesticides, plastics and other products.

The department actively encourages exploration and development of commercial hydrocarbon discoveries. While success in finding offshore deposits has been modest, there have been successes such as the deposits off Kinsale and the Corrib field, which will contribute over 40% of the island’s gas needs in its early years of production.


More information on the Statement of Strategy


Divisions within the Natural Resources Section: 

The Exploration and Mining Division applies the Minerals Development Act to minerals exploration and development. It ensures that Ireland’s mineral deposits are identified and developed responsibly, in accordance with best international practices. The division also actively promotes the attractiveness of Ireland’s deposits for private investment. 

The Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) collects geological data in order to provide maps, databases, resources, advice and information concerning Irish geology.

The Inland Fisheries Division is responsible for ensuring the effective conservation of inland fish habitats and stocks, primarily through the Fisheries Boards. It also encourages sustainable development and implements legislation concerning the commercial and recreational fishing resource.

The Petroleum Affairs Division aims to maximise the benefits of indigenous oil and gas resources, while ensuring that exploration and production activities are conducted with due regard to safety, environmental impact and other land and sea users.