New proposals to protect porpoises off Irish coast

New marine safeguard proposals aim to put harbour porpoises on a protected list in Northern Ireland.

Porpoise - set to be protected in Irish waters

Porpoise - set to be protected in Irish waters. Image by m.prinke / CC BY 2.0

Authorities have put forward a new protected Marine Conservation Zone for the smallest marine mammal in the Irish Sea.

The Department of the Environment is also to extend the protection area for seabird colonies while a sea-grass colony will also be selected to provide nursery grounds for marine wildlife.

The Belfast Telegraph reported that the new measures come on top of the previous protection orders in 2012 for the Causeway Coast and Skerries Special Area of Conservation (SAC) on the north coast.

Further aims are to create similar zones from Belfast down to Carlingford Lough and  also stretching across to the other side of the Irish Sea.

The DoE is also looking at how it might protect seabirds of European importance like Manx shearwaters, terns and red-throated divers.

The new area hopes to add to an existing proposed network of Rathlin Island and Belfast and Carlingford Lough.

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