Our work is about achieving healthy, productive and resilient seas in Northern Ireland

NI Mairne Protection Plan PDF
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Globally our seas are in trouble, facing:

  • too little protection
  • overfishing & collapse of fish stocks
  • habitat damage and decline caused by human activities (eg. damaging fishing practices)
  • pollution from chemicals and litter
  • climate change (sea level and temperature rise, ocean acidification)

What can we do about it?

  • Have strong laws for marine protection & marine management
  • Protect important areas of the sea for habitats, plants and animals
  • Carefully & sustainably plan how we use the sea to in partnership with neighbouring countries





Governments around the world are starting to respond to the damage and threats to the seas and the habitats and wildlife within them. There are International Conventions, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Oslo Paris Convention for the North East Atlantic (OSPAR) which commits member countries to creating well managed networks of Marine Protected Areas. Most importantly, European law (the Marine Strategy Framework Directive) places binding targets on European countries to protect species and habitats and reduce the impact of our activities on the sea. England, Wales and Scotland have all introduced new laws to create new protected areas, plan their sea and manage their fisheries.


Marine Protection

  • An 'Ecologically Coherent Network' of Marine Protected Areas for Northern Ireland's Seas,
  • New, effective protection for three key areas in Northern Ireland: Lough Foyle, Carlingford and mud habitat inthe Irish Sea.

Marine Spatial Planning

  • An effective and environmentally sensitive Marine Plan for Northern Ireland which follows an 'Ecosystems Based Approach',
  • To ensure the environment is properly assessed and managed in large infrastructure projects and developments


  • A sustainable, well-managed and environmentally sensitive fishing industry in Northern Ireland supported through the implementation of effective legislation,  
  • Designation of an appropriate area of mud habitat for Marine Protection off South East Co. Down

Marine Strategy Framework Directive

  • ‘Good Environmental Status’ promoted at all times in Northern Ireland Policy and decision making,
  • To ensure that Northern Ireland adheres to the MSFD timeline


An ecologically coherent network of MPAs- Read about the network on our Marine Protection Page. Coherent networks of MPAs provide more conservation benefits than single MPAs on their own. It is important that when designing the network of sites that Northern Ireland ensures that the network is coherent at a local as well as bio-regional scale. We need to maximise the MPA benefits for Northern Ireland species and habitats.

The Marine Plan- Read about what Marine Spatial Planning is on our Marine Plan page. the background work on the plan for the current and future uses of our sea has already begun. However, it is important that the plan balances the human uses for our seas with the conservation needs and the MPA network. It needs to be developed through close team work in the Northern Ireland Marine Division, as designating areas for conservation and areas for people are two parts of the one process. We do not want the health of our marine environment marginalised -  confined to areas unwanted by industry. 

Marine Governance- Our current structure of Government management for marine issues does not work. There are four Government Departments the make decisions about the seas and how we use it, each run by a different political party. Well planned decisions that consider the entire system are rare and made difficult by this structure. We need a new structure, like a single authority which makes all decisions about our seas.


We need your help to get our messages across to politicians and Government Departments. We regularly run online campaigns, such as our upcoming MCZ campaign to tell your local politicians what needs to be done to improve the health of our seas. Also please follow us on Twitter @NIMTF #SeaChangeNI, Facebook and regularly check our website. It's not only a great way of keeping up to date with our campaign but we regularly post stories from around the marine world and we are constantly updating our links page - making the NIMTF a great portal to other important marine partners and causes. 

Your support is vital if we are to achieve a future for our seas.

Campaign To Support Marine Conservation Zones

View Our Campaign To Support Marine Conservation Zones For Northern Ireland

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