Waterfoot MCZ

Status: Designated


Site overview

Though it is a small geographical area, the habitat contained within is critical and relatively rare in Northern Irish waters.  This site is being designated to protect what is probably the largest meadow of seagrass in Northern Ireland. Seagrass is really important as its long roots help to stabilise the seabed. It also helps in the fight against climate change as they can store carbon 35 times faster than rainforests. Seagrass beds are also important nursery areas for young fish. The seagrass here is in good condition with a rich associated community of plants and animals. This site was designated as a Marine Conservation Zone in 2016, which is a type of Marine Protected Area, but is still at risk as there are no management measures in place to control actvities. 

MPA Type

Marine Conservation Zone in Northern Ireland

Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) are designated under UK legislation (Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009) and have been established around England, Wales and Northern Ireland to contribute to the UK MPA network protect a range of nationally important marine wildlife, habitats, geology and geomorphology, and can be designated anywhere in English and Welsh territorial and UK offshore waters.

Designation date

12 December 2016

Surface Area

0.81 km2 (0.31 mi.2)


4.63 km (2.88 mi.)

Seasearch Logo

MCS was heavily involved in Seasearch recording of the extent of the seagrass bed with local divers at this site.

Learn more about Seasearch

Did you know?…

Over 500,000 records of undersea species and habitats have been collected by volunteer Seasearch divers

To the shelf limits, Scotland has 61% of UK waters, of which 23% are now in existing or new ‘marine protected areas’