Carlingford Lough Marine Conservation Zone

Date published: 24 February 2017

The designation of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) safeguards vulnerable or unique marine species and habitats of national importance in the Northern Ireland inshore region based on an ecosystem approach. These MCZs fulfill the obligations on The Marine Act (Northern Ireland) 2013 (the "Act") to contribute to an ecologically coherent UK network of MPAs as well as wider biodiversity commitments at European and global level.


Area: 3.23km2
Location (centroid): 54° 05.291’ N 6° 12.893’ W
Date Classified: 12/12/2016

Carlingford Lough is a narrow and shallow sea lough that lies on the east coast of Ireland, located at the border of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The MCZ is located off the northern shore and lies north of the navigation channel in the inner part of the Lough.

Carlingford Lough has an extensive intertidal area of sand and mudflats that provide key feeding grounds for overwintering birds.

The MCZ has been designated as it supports the habitat Philine aperta (White lobe shell) and Virgularia mirabilis (Sea-pen) in soft stable infralittoral mud. This habitat is only present in Carlingford Lough; individual records of P. aperta and V. mirabilis occur throughout Northern Ireland. P. aperta and V. mirabilis occur in high densities within the MCZ and this habitat is thought to be a temporal variant of other sublittoral cohesive mud and sandy mud communities.

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