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Home > NIEA > Protected Areas > Ramsar Sites > Belfast Lough

Belfast Lough Ramsar Site

Last updated: 24 March 2010

Area: 432.14 hectares

Grid Reference: J 353783

Date Designated: 05/08/98

picture of Belfast Lough shorelineBelfast Lough is a large intertidal sea lough situated at the mouth of the River Lagan on the east coast of Northern Ireland.
The inner part of the lough comprises a series of mudflats and lagoons.
The outer lough is restricted to mainly rocky shores with some small sandy bays. In the outer lough, the RamsarOpens in New window boundary is entirely coincident with that of Outer Belfast Lough ASSI but within the immediate harbour area.
The boundary has been redrawn to take into account permitted port related development and landfill which has taken place since the Inner Belfast Lough ASSI was declared in 1987.
Marine areas below mean low water are not included. The Ramsar boundary is entirely coincident with that of the Belfast Lough Special Protection Area.
picture of a redshank wading at the edge of the waterThe site qualifies under Criterion 3c by regularly supporting internationally important numbers of redshank in winter.
The site also regularly supports nationally important numbers of shelduck, oystercatcher, purple sandpiper, dunlin, black-tailed godwit, bar-tailed godwit, curlew and turnstone.
Belfast Lough as a whole is also used by several other waterfowl species including great crested grebe, scaup, eider, goldeneye and red-breasted merganser.