Lough Foyle SPA

Status: Designated


Site overview

This site lies on the north-west coast of Northern Ireland and straddles the international border with the Irish Republic. The site comprises a large, shallow sea lough that includes the estuaries of the rivers Foyle, Faughan and Roe.  The site is made up of mudflats, sand-flats, salt-marshes and associated brackish ditches. This is an important area for waterbirds during the spring and autumn migration periods, and in winter. These include swans, geese, ducks and waders. The lough is especially notable in supporting a high proportion of the international population of Canada/Ireland light-bellied brent goose.  

MPA Type

Special Protection Area

Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are strictly protected sites designated uner European legislation. They are established to protect rare and vulnerable birds and for regularly occurring migratory species.

Designation date

1 January 1999

Surface Area

22.04 km2 (8.51 mi.2)


165.21 km (102.66 mi.)

  • Bar-tailed godwit (Limosa lapponica)

    A long-billed, long-legged wading bird that visits the UK in the winter.

  • Waterfowl assemblage

    Important areas where a number of waterfowl species occur in significant numbers.

  • Light-bellied brent goose (Branta bernicla hrota)

    A small dark goose with small wintering populations in the UK. it is vulnerable as the entire population depends on less than ten wintering sites.

  • Tidal rivers, Estuaries, Mud flats, Sand flats, Lagoons (including saltwork basins)
  • Salt marshes, Salt pastures, Salt steppes

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

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