Belfast Lough SPA
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 aims to protect certain species of bird including the bar-tailed godwit, the redshank and the turnstone. Over winter, the area regularly supports 20,492 individual waterfowl birds including: goldeneye, redshank, turnstone, great crested grebe, cormorant, shelduck, mallard, bar-tailed godwit, eider, curlew, red-breasted merganser, oystercatcher, ringed plover, lapwing, knot, dunlin, black-tailed godwit and scaup.
MPA TypeSpecial 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 date1 August 1998
Surface Area4.32 km2 (1.67 mi.2)
Perimeter75.01 km (46.61 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’
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
To the shelf limits, Scotland has 61% of UK waters, of which 23% are now in existing or new ‘marine protected areas’