Outer Belfast Lough MCZ

Status: Designated

Description

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 Marine Conservation Zone in this area too, but there are no management measures. They are all types of Marine Protected Area, with each designation protecting 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.

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

2.51 km2 (0.97 mi.2)

Perimeter

6.86 km (4.26 mi.)

Did you know?…

An area over 9 times the size of Wales is now in marine protected areas in the UK, but less than 1% is considered by MCS scientists to be well managed

Over 500,000 records on undersea habitats and species have been collected by volunteer Seasearch divers providing significant evidence for inshore ‘marine protected areas’

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

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