Strangford Lough MCZ

Status: Designated


Site overview

Horse mussel reefs, seagrass beds, and rich seabeds exist in the inner SL site. This site was Norther Irelands’ only Marine Nature Reserve designated in 1995. It has since been designated as a Special Area of Conservation (for the seabed wildlife), and Special Protection Area (for the birds). The re-designation of the site as an MCZ over MNR has little bearing on current management measures that includes a ban on scallop dredging that was enabled thanks to legal action by Ulster Wildlife Trust in 2000.

At risk The ban on scallop dredging came too late to save the sites’ horse mussel beds, many of which haven’t recovered since the dredging was stopped in 2003. 

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

1 January 1995

Surface Area

164.78 km2 (63.62 mi.2)


336.48 km (209.08 mi.)

Did you know?…

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

Over half a million people have voiced their support for ‘marine protected area’ designation in the UK through our campaigns

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

The future of fisheries is being decided

Fisheries CampaignThe UK government has opened a public consultation asking how we think they should manage our fisheries after Brexit through a new Fisheries Bill.

Act now!