Northern Ireland State of the Seas Report

Geographical coverage

Geographical scale of the assessment National
Country or countries covered United Kingdom
Any other necessary information or explanation for identifying the location of the assessment, including site or region name

Northern Ireland

Conceptual framework, methodology and scope

Assessment objectives

The report follows on from a UK-wide report published in 2010 entitled ‘Charting Progress 2 – The State of UK Seas‘. The Northern Ireland State of the Seas report complements Charting Progress 2 and highlights the issues specific to Northern Ireland. This report will enable us to identify where our knowledge is good and where further work is needed to comply with the new Marine Strategy Framework Directive requirements.

Mandate for the assessment

This is the first time a comprehensive report on the state of the seas around Northern Ireland had been published. It acknowledges that it is a key time in management of Northern Ireland's marine environment with the introduction of 3 new pieces of legislation: EC Marine Strategy Framework Directive, 2008; UK Marine and Coastal Access Act, 2009; and, the proposed Northern Ireland Marine Bill, which will be introduced to the NI Assembly in 2011.

Conceptual framework and/or methodology used for the assessment


URL or copy of conceptual framework developed or adapted

System(s) assessed

  • Marine
  • Coastal

Species groups assessed

Ecosystem services/functions assessed


  • Food
  • Water
  • Genetic resources


  • Air quality
  • Climate regulation
  • Moderation of extreme events
  • Regulation of water flows
  • Regulation of water quality
  • Waste treatment
  • Erosion prevention

Supporting Services/Functions

  • Habitat maintenance
  • Nutrient cycling
  • Primary production

Cultural Services

  • Recreation and tourism

Scope of assessment includes

Drivers of change in systems and services


Impacts of change in services on human well-being


Options for responding/interventions to the trends observed


Explicit consideration of the role of biodiversity in the systems and services covered by the assessment


Timing of the assessment

Year assessment started


Year assessment finished


If ongoing, year assessment is anticipated to finish

Periodicity of assessment

One off

Assessment outputs



Chapter 10: Contaminants in Biota

Chapter 11: Litter

Chapter 12: Energy and Underwater Noise

Chapter 13: Maritime Archaeology

Chapter 14: Bathing Waters

Chapter 15: Ports and Harbours

Chapter 16: Discussions and Conclusions

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Marine Biodiversity

Chapter 3: Invasive Alien Species

Chapter 4: Fisheries and Aquaculture

Chapter 5: Foodwebs

Chapter 6: Eutrophication

Chapter 7: Seabed Integrity

Chapter 8: Hydrographical Conditions

Chapter 9: Contaminants

Ministers Foreword and Executive Summary

Communication materials (e.g. brochure, presentations, posters, audio-visual media)

Journal publications

Training materials

Other documents/outputs

Tools and processes

Tools and approaches used in the assessment

  • Geospatial analysis
  • Indicators

Process used for stakeholder engagement in the assessment process and which component

Key stakeholder groups engaged

AFBI, Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Dept. of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dept. of the Environment, Loughs Agency, Food Standards Agency, University of Ulster, Dept. for Regional Development

The number of people directly involved in the assessment process

Incorporation of scientific and other types of knowledge

  • Scientific information only
  • Resource experts (e.g. foresters etc)

Supporting documentation for specific approaches, methodology or criteria developed and/or used to integrate knowledge systems into the assessment

Assessment reports peer reviewed



Accessibility of data used in assessment

Most of the underpinning data is freely available.

Policy impact

Impacts the assessment has had on policy and/or decision making, as evidenced through policy references and actions

Many of the datasets identified in the report are crucial for the assessment of long term changes that may occur due to climate change. It is clear that a spatial planning process is required in order to manage our marine environment both holistically and sustainably. This will be introduced in 2014 under the Northern Ireland Marine Bill. The production of this report is a major milestone both in terms of initiating implementation of the new legislation and in strengthening relationships between Agencies and Departments. All Northern Ireland Departments and Agencies with marine responsibilities will continue to build on this co-operation in the monitoring and management of our marine environment.

Independent or other review on policy impact of the assessment


Lessons learnt for future assessments from these reviews

Capacity building

Capacity building needs identified during the assessment

Where other organisations can demonstrate the quality of their scientific data, partnership approaches to monitoring will be further explored. The Seasearch Programme has shown that with appropriate training and supervision, amateur divers and volunteers can be used to build the evidence base.

Actions taken by the assessment to build capacity

Network and sharing experiences, Communication and awareness raising

How have gaps in capacity been communicated to the different stakeholders

Knowledge generation

Gaps in knowledge identified from the assessment

There is no specific chapter reporting on climate change. Where adequate quality can be demonstrated, data from non government sources should be used in future assessments.

How gaps in knowledge have been communicated to the different stakeholders

Additional relevant information