The Department’s intention is to extend the existing boundary of Carlingford Lough Special Protection Area (SPA) to include the marine area adjoining the existing SPA and a further area off the south-east County Down coast as shown on the map shown within the above hyperlink. As part of a UK-wide assessment of marine areas of significance for birds, a range of studies have been undertaken to identify our most important sites. Specific work on the Carlingford Lough area has shown that the marine area adjoining the current SPA is of particular importance as a foraging site for terns.
This area was classified as a SPA by the Department on 09 March 1998 in accordance with the European Communities Council Directive of 2 April 1979 on the conservation of wild birds (79/409/EEC, codified as Directive 2009/147/EC). This Directive requires Member States, including the UK, to have in place special measures to conserve the habitat of certain rare or vulnerable species of birds, or regularly occurring migratory bird species. Particular attention must be paid to the protection of wetlands these species use, especially wetlands of international importance.
The importance of the subject area for nature conservation has been further recognised through its designation as a Ramsar site in accordance with the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat. In addition, virtually the entire SPA boundary is coincident with that of Carlingford Lough Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI) which was declared in 1986 under national legislation, which affords it special protection.