The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has launched a public consultation on the proposed Marine Plan for Northern Ireland.
The consultation provides a new planning approach that supports the sustainable management of the Northern Ireland marine area.
The Marine Plan will facilitate the sustainable use of marine resources and the management of activities and uses from natural heritage to energy, aquaculture and tourism and recreation.
It builds upon the policy framework outlined in the UK Marine Policy Statement and will facilitate the integration of marine planning with land use planning. It is supported by a publicly accessible Marine Mapviewer showing the uses and activities that occur in the Northern Ireland marine area.
Denis McMahon, Permanent Secretary of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, said: “It is vital that we plan for and protect our marine area as we do with the land.
“Our seas are an important resource for many people. They provide a livelihood for fishing communities, are home to important marine wildlife and provide for our enjoyment and recreation.
“The Plan will enable public authorities making decisions that affect the marine area to manage our seas sustainably; integrating economic, environmental and social considerations.
“It will also provide greater certainty and clarity for developers in making investment decisions. It will also guide those with an interest in the marine area, to ensure that their views are relevant and considered in the decisions that affect it.”
The consultation will run for eight weeks from 18 April until 15 June 2018 and can be accessed on the DAERA website (https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/consultations).