Marine Plan for Northern Ireland

The Marine Plan for Northern Ireland will inform and guide the regulation, management, use and protection of our marine area. It is a single document made up of two plans, one for the inshore region and one for the offshore region.

The draft Marine Plan for Northern Ireland

Public consultation on the draft Marine Plan took place from April to June 2018.

Why is there a Marine Plan?

The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (MCAA) and the Marine Act (Northern Ireland) 2013 (The Marine Act), require the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) as the Marine Plan Authority (MPA), to prepare marine plans. The Marine Plan has been developed within the framework of the UK Marine Policy Statement (UK MPS). This will facilitate the sustainable development of the marine area. 

The UK Government has published a 25 year Environment Plan that commits to having UK Marine Plans in place by 2021.

Where is the Marine Plan area?

The Northern Ireland marine area is made up of an inshore and an offshore region.  The marine area comprises all marine waters including sea bed, subsoil, sea loughs and tidal rivers, so far as the tide flows at Mean High Water Spring Tide.

The inshore region extends from the Mean High Water Spring Tide mark out to, at most, 12 nautical miles (nm) and includes tidal rivers and sea loughs.  The offshore region is the area that extends south-eastwardly from the 12nm territorial limit to the outer boundary of the Northern Ireland marine area (31nm at the farthest point). 

Who will use the Marine Plan?

The Marine Plan will primarily be used by public authorities taking decisions which affect or might affect the marine area.  It will also be used by anyone who has an interest in the marine area, including those bringing forward proposals and stakeholders who wish to comment on such proposals.

A publically accessible Marine Mapviewer showing the uses and activities that occur in the Northern Ireland Marine Area is also available.

How does the Marine Plan affect decision making?

The draft Marine Plan provides a framework of policies to be considered by public authorities taking decisions which affect or might affect the marine area through decision making processes. It is a material consideration in this regard.

The Marine Plan (when adopted) will be used by Public Authorities in taking decisions which affect or might affect the marine area, including:

Criteria for consulting Marine and Fisheries Division on Planning Consultations

More information on criteria for consulting Marine and Fisheries Division can be found here:

Development that may have an effect on the marine environment


The Marine Plan has been informed by a Sustainability Appraisal, which incorporates the requirements of a Strategic Environmental Appraisal.

The following assessments have also been carried out:

When will the Marine Plan come into effect?

The Marine Plan will come into effect when it is published in final form and adopted. 

Progress and Reporting

DAERA is required by Section 61 of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 to prepare a Marine Plan report on the Marine Plan process in Northern Ireland.

A first report on progress with the Marine Plan was laid before the NI Assembly on 21 October 2015. The next six-yearly report will therefore be laid before the Assembly not later than October 2021.

Getting involved

The involvement of those with an interest in and responsibility for the marine area has been central to the development of the Marine Plan to date, as set out in the Statement of Public Participation.

Statement of Public Participation

We encourage anyone with an interest in marine planning to get in touch.

Contact Details

For more information, please contact the Marine Plan team.


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