Coastal regions of Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland's coast provides livelihoods for generations of coastal communities. Inshore fisheries, agriculture, ports and harbours, industry, housing development, tourism and power generation all compete for space and coastal resources. With most of the population living within an hour's drive of the coast, it is also important for a wide range of leisure activities.

Coastal zone management

There is no one accepted definition of the coastal zone, particularly in terms of how far inland coastal zones reach. However, in the UK, the devolved administrations have responsibility for many issues relating to the area up to 12 nautical miles offshore. The Crown Estate owns virtually the entire seabed out to the territorial limit, including the rights to explore and utilize the natural resources of the UK Continental Shelf (excluding oil, gas and coal). It also owns approximately 55% of the foreshore and around half of the beds of estuaries and tidal rivers in the UK.

The coast cannot be treated as entirely separate from the terrestrial environment or distinct from the management of territorial and international waters. For example, pollution from the land is carried down rivers and affects coastal waters.

The Northern Ireland government departments have responsibility for many issues relating to the area up to 12 nautical miles offshore.

Natural and human influences have shaped our landscape and coast, resulting in the distinctive coastal regions and the types of plants and animals that live there.

What do we do to protect our coast?

Environment and marine group have a wide range of responsibilities and work at all levels within the Government process from policy advice to practical hands-on work on the ground. With responsibility for the implementation of European, regional and national legislation relating to the coastal environment, its heritage, habitats, species and landscapes.

Essentially they are responsible for protecting the natural and built features of the coast and for promoting their appreciation among the public and within all sectors of Government.

What can you do to help or find out more?

The coast and marine environment are delicate assets which we should be proud of and do our utmost to protect:

  1. When visiting the coast keep to paths so as not to cause erosion or disturb the plants and animals living there.
  2. Keep noise to a minimum especially where there are birds and seals, too much noise may prevent them from breeding or scare them away from the young they already have.
  3. Bring your litter home with you. Even though rubbish bins may be available birds can be inquisitive and may quickly empty them of their contents.
  4. Guard against all risks of fire.
  5. Keep your dog under strict control and tidy up after it.
  6. Fact sheets are available on different habitats within the marine and coastal environment - a comprehensive list of NIEA fact sheets is available online.
  7. NIEA Country Parks and Countryside Centres are open to the public and have a wide range of educational facilities available.
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