Coastal Areas of Special Scientific Interest

Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSIs) are protected areas designated under The Environment (Northern Ireland) Order 2002 for their species, habitat and/or geological features. Many of these are in coastal areas, with the designated area extending to the Mean Low Water Mark (MLWM). Coastal ASSIs that have marine features contribute towards the Marine Protected Area (MPA) network. Some ASSIs are also subject to other designations - for example they can be designated as a Special Area of Conservation or Special Protection Area.

How are coastal ASSIs identified?

Following an extensive survey of the Northern Ireland coast in the 1980s, the best examples of nationally important marine features were selected for more detailed survey and mapping. These sites were then put forward as ASSIs following consultation with landowners and various statutory bodies such as the Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside (CNCC). The designation package includes a list of all the features and a list of all the activities which may impact the condition of these features.

For further information on ASSIs, including duties and responsibilities, see:

List of coastal ASSIs

There are currently 20 coastal ASSIs that contribute to the MPA network:

Useful links

Further information

For further information on Northern Ireland coastal ASSIs with marine features, contact:


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