Belfast Lough Open Water SPA

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 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.  The water depths within the site are generally between 1m and 10m and this site supports an internationally important wintering population of great crested grebe. 

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 September 2009

Surface Area

55.90 km2 (21.58 mi.2)

Perimeter

43.66 km (27.13 mi.)

  • Great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus)

    Hunted for its feathers this stunning waterbird was almost lost from the UK. They are well known for the elaborate courtship dance they do and for carrying their tiny young on their backs.

  • Marine areas, Sea inlets

Did you know?…

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

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’