Marine Nature Reserves
Strangford Lough has been designated as Northern Ireland's first Marine Nature Reserve.
The purpose of a Marine Nature Reserves is to conserve marine flora and fauna and geological features of special interest, while providing opportunities for study of marine systems.
They are the mechanism for the protection of nationally important marine and subtidal areas. Their designation requires the agreement of statutory and voluntary bodies and interest groups.
The final decision to designate was based on extensive surveys of Northern Ireland's seashore and coastal seabed which confirmed the importance of Strangford Lough and adjacent coastal waters for marine life.
The reserve includes all the waters, seabed and shores (up to high water mark mean tide) of
Strangford Lough itself plus those of an area around the mouth of the Lough, extending north to Kearney Village, south to Sheepland Harbour and offshore for a distance of ¼ to ½ a nautical mile.The designation ensures both the conservation of the flora, fauna, landforms and other features of scientific interest and for their further study. Extensive surveys have shown that the Lough supports an exceptional range of marine life, with some of its features being of international renown.