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Consultation on the proposed Marine Plan for Northern Ireland


This consultation document sets out a blueprint for the management of marine life in Northern Ireland.

The consultation process will run from the 18 April to 15 June 2018.

Text and images below is taken from Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs Website – a link to the full consultation document can be found below

‘ The Marine Plan for Northern Ireland is a single document made up of two plans, one for the inshore region under the Marine Act (Northern Ireland) 2013 (The Marine Act) and one for the offshore region under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (MCAA). 

The Marine Plan (when adopted) will be used by public authorities in taking decisions which affect or might affect the marine area, including authorisation or enforcement decisions, and decisions that relate to the exercise of any function capable of affecting the
marine area.

Under legislation, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), as the Marine Plan Authority (MPA), have to prepare marine plans, for the better management of the Northern Ireland marine area.

A healthy marine area which is managed sustainably for the economic, environmental and social prosperity of present and future generations

Marine Plan Objectives

  • To promote the sustainable development of productive activities, which support employment at all skill levels while fully considering the requirements of other marine interests.
  • To help realise the potential of energy resources and energy storage within the marine area, while fully considering the requirements of other marine interests.
  • To promote the development of vibrant, accessible and sustainable coastal communities.
  • To promote the marine resource, its recreational value and its wider economic, environmental and social benefits to all.
  • To promote the preservation and enjoyment of marine related heritage assets.
  • To promote a healthy, resilient and adaptable marine ecosystem and an ecologically coherent network of Marine Protected Areas.
  • To contribute towards climate change mitigation and adaptation measures.
  • To continue to develop a sound marine evidence base in a co-ordinated manner, to increase understanding and to support the development, monitoring and review of marine plans.


Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs

(C) Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs

Characteristics of the Northern Ireland marine area The Northern Ireland marine area has:

  • an area of over 6,000 km2 ;
  • a coastline of over 650 km, more than 75% of which falls within some form of conservation designation;
  • a natural gyre circulatory system in the south east, which creates ideal spawning and breeding grounds for a wide range of commercial fish species;
  • coastal waters that contain over 50% of the region’s biodiversity;
  • one inhabited island, Rathlin Island, off the north coast with a population of approximately 145 people;
  • some of the deepest waters to be found anywhere in the British Isles situated north of Rathlin Island, which are in excess of 230m deep 
  • areas with the potential to generate renewable energy;
  • areas with potential for oil and gas exploration and energy storage;
  • a network of underwater telecommunications cables, electricity interconnection and a gas pipeline;
  • a direct fibre optic cable link with the USA providing Northern Ireland with the fastest trans-Atlantic telecommunications in the UK;
  • 44 ports and harbours including five commercial ports and three main fishing ports;
  • a wealth of maritime heritage assets including the Spanish Armada shipwreck, La Girona;
  • a strong maritime heritage and a coastline that includes some of our greatest environmental, tourist and recreational assets;
  • a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Giant’s Causeway, a unique area of 40,000 interlocking basalt columns; and
  • a number of beaches with blue flag status and a blue flag marina in Ballycastle.

Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs

(C) Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs

The core polices include the following:

  • Air Quality
  • Climate change
  • Coastal Processes
  • Co-exsitence
  • Cumulative impacts
  • Heritage Assets

Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs

(C) Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs

  • Invasive Alien Species
  • Land and Sea Interaction
  • Marine Litter
  • Marine Noise
  • Natural Heritage
  • Seascape

Key Activity Policies

  • Aquaculture – Aquaculture is the rearing or cultivation of aquatic organisms, using techniques designed to increase production beyond the natural capacity of the environment. In Northern Ireland, the main marine species cultivated are mussels, Pacific oysters, Native oysters and Atlantic salmon
  • Carbon and capture Storage
  • Commercial Fishing

Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs

(C) Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs

  • Defence and National Security

Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs

(C) Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs

  • Dredging

Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs

(C) Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs

  • Energy
  • Ports, Harbours and Shipping

Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs

(C) Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs

  • Telecommunications Cabling

Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs

(C) Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs

  • Tourism and Recreation

Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs

(C) Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs

You can access the full consultation document HERE

If you wish to take part in the consultation of the draft Marine Plan, you can respond by using one of the following methods:

1) You can respond online at the Northern Ireland Hub – Citizen Space via https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/consultations
2) By writing to:
Marine Plan Team
Marine and Fisheries Division
Klondyke Building
Cromac Avenue
Malone Lower
Belfast BT7 2JA
3) By e-mail: marineplanteam@daera-ni.gov.uk ‘

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