Northern Ireland shares an island with the nation of Ireland. Northern Ireland makes up approximately thirty percent of the total island and is exposed to the sea for about half of its borders. Due to this, there is a strong reliance on and relationship with the sea. Which is why many in the region have pushed to put protections on the marine environment.
Special Areas of Conservation are designated by Northern Ireland to indicate a need to protect specific species or regions of importance to an ecosystem. Northern Ireland has many designated areas on land, however, a limited number of marine areas. However, Rathlin Island, Red Bay, Strangford Lough and Murlough Bay have all been designated as Special Areas of Conservation.
Now Northern Ireland has announced that a number of new marine areas will be designated as Special Areas of Conservation, as well as a number of species. The Maidens Islands near Larne have been designated in order to protect the reefs in the region, as well as grey seals. Sandbanks, the seabed and sea in general have also been designated.
Similar designations have been given for the region of the Giant’s Causeway and Portrush Skerries. This region will see the sea, seabed, sandbanks, reefs and sea caves designated as Special Areas of Conservation. In addition, the harbor porpoise is to be protected via these designations as the species calls this region home throughout the year according to government findings.
The regions are being protected for their biodiversity and importance as marine habitats according to the announcement of the designations. Northern Ireland is also debating whether to protect further regions of the sea surrounding their nation in an upcoming Marine Bill to be discussed in the coming months.