Marine environment

Northern Ireland has a close connection with the sea. We have over 650 kilometres of coastline and the sea is home to an amazing variety of marine life, some of which are found nowhere else in the world.

Marine conservation

The marine environment of Northern Ireland is important for a variety of reasons. Marine life in the seas surrounding Northern Ireland is rich and varied and includes marine mammals such as harbour seals, whales and dolphins, seabirds, waterfowl and other species that migrate here such as salmon and eels (both of which are endangered).  The majority of the sea life however, largely remains unseen and includes animals such as sponges, corals, sea squirts, octopus etc.

Northern Ireland is geographically situated in a unique biological location; with both cold water arctic boreal and southern lusitanian species.  We are the junction between these significant water bodies and they appearance and disappearance of species may indicate climate change.

Our responsibilities

Environment and marine group are responsible for designating and protecting marine sites at both International and National level. We do this by monitoring the condition of the designated sites and identifying damaging activities. We also respond to consultations on activities which may impact these sites and advise on appropriate mitigation to ensure the continued ecological sustainable use of the marine environment.  Our area of responsibility extends from the high water mark out to 12 nautical miles.

This dynamic area supports tourism, agriculture, recreation, aquaculture, inshore fisheries, industry, commercial harbours and quays, as well as being used for waste disposal and power generation. All these activities and more occur in a zone well known for its natural propensity to change.

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