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 and have marine features. The ASSIs designation extends to the Mean Low Water Mark (MLWM). Some ASSIs are also subject to other designations - for example they can also be part of the network of Natura 2000 sites.

How are coastal ASSIs identified?

Following an extensive survey of the Northern Ireland’s 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. These are known as notifiable operations.

If a landowner wishes to carry out any activity that is a notifiable operation, they must apply to NIEA Natural Environment Division for Consent, so that, if possible, a way of managing the operation can be agreed and that will not cause damage to any of the features for which the site is designated. Where the proposal is likely to affect features on the coast, the application will be dealt by NIEA in consultation with DAERA Marine and Fisheries Division to ensure all designated features are considered.

List of coastal ASSIs

The ASSIs with marine features that are currently designated around Northern Ireland's coast are listed below:

Useful Links

Further information

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

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