Outer Belfast Lough

Site overview: Belfast Lough is a large, open sea lough located on the north-eastern coast of Northern Ireland. The inner part of the lough comprises mainly mud-flats and lagoons which are important feeding and roosting sites for significant numbers of wintering waders and wildfowl. The outer lough is made up of rocky shores with some small sandy bays and beach-head saltmarsh. The site is of importance for a wide range of wintering waterbirds. This area has two protected areas which have been designated, Belfast Lough Open Water and Belfast Lough, both of which are Special Protection Areas. There is a proposed Marine Conservation Zone in this area too. They are all types of Marine Protected Area, with each aiming to protect different features of the site. This site is home to an ancient population of the ocean quahog, a clam like animal which can live for up to 400 years. The population in this site is thought to be over 200 years old.

Designation Status
Last Updated
6 June 2017
MPA Type
Marine Conservation Zone in Northern Ireland
MPA Purpose


54° 42' 31" North,
5° 35' 51" West

Surface Area

3.92 km2
(1.51 mi.2 )

Iconic features protected by this site