New Marine protected sites welcomed

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THE Ulster Wildlife Trust has welcomed the Environment Minister’s announcement of two new marine Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) to protect internationally important wildlife and habitats found off Northern Ireland’s coast.

The sites, which include the Maidens SAC and Skerries and Causeway SAC, mark the completion of Northern Ireland’s European suite of marine designated sites.

Jade Berman, Living Seas Manager with the Ulster Wildlife Trust said: “A lot of work has gone into bringing forward these protected sites in recent years, and their completion marks an important milestone, bringing us in line with the rest of Europe. It is also shows a commitment by our Government to ensure the sustainable use of our seas’ resources, upon which we all rely.

“We are particularly pleased that Northern Ireland is leading the way in protecting the harbour porpoise within the Skerries and Causeway SAC.

“This is a great step forward in protecting our precious marine wildlife as we mark the start of National Marine Week, but there is still much to do. With the long-awaited Marine Bill for Northern Ireland going through the Assembly, we hope our Government will raise the bar and secure thriving sustainable Living Seas for the future.”

The Ulster Wildlife Trust is celebrating National Marine Week from 28 July to 12 August, with free marine-themed events across Northern Ireland. Visit www.ulsterwildlifetrust.org/whats-on