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In 2001, The Northern Ireland Executive published the Shellfish Aquaculture Management Plan for Northern Ireland. The Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development stated at the presentation: "There has been a significant growth in shellfish aquaculture in Northern Ireland over the past few years. It is important that this growth is structured and that the shellfish aquaculture industry develops in a sustainable manner and with minimal environmental impact." Following this publication, Queen’s University Belfast and the Department for Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) produced in 2003 a Phase I study of Carrying Capacity.

In 2004, a consortium made up of the Institute of Marine Research - IMAR (Portugal), Plymouth Marine Laboratory – PML (U.K.) and CSIR (South Africa) was awarded a two-year contract by DARD for the SMILE project, with the aim of “developing dynamic ecosystem level carrying capacity models for the five sea lough systems in Northern Ireland”.

This website is the public project area for SMILE. Here you can find a description of the main objectives, activities and results. The five sea lough systems addressed by SMILE, which began in September 2004, are Carlingford Lough, Strangford Lough, Belfast Lough, Larne Lough and Lough Foyle. This work has the following objectives:

  • To establish functional models at the loughs scale, describing key environmental variables and processes, aquaculture activities and their interactions;

  • To evaluate sustainable carrying capacities for aquaculture in the different loughs, considering interactions between cultivated species, for normal and alternative cultivation practises;

  • To examine the effects of overexploitation on key ecological variables;

  • To examine bay-scale environmental effects of different culture strategies.



This site has been developed based on information made available by DARD and on model simulations carried out by the SMILE partnership. Every effort has been made to ensure that data presented are accurate. The site is regularly updated, however the SMILE partnership can accept no liability for errors or omissions derived from the original data sources.


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