New team to protect coastal waters
A new marine division has been created to deliver policy and legislation to promote, protect and sustain coastal waters.
Environment Minister Alex Attwood revealed his department will run the dedicated unit, which will also be responsible for implementing national, European and international laws.
Mr Attwood said coastal waters play a massive role in the lives of the people of Northern Ireland.
"The wealth of its resources, the splendour of its biodiversity, the simple fact of it being a huge natural resource to be enjoyed, means it is vital that we concentrate our efforts to protect and sustain it," he said. "Therefore we need to make sure we are managing it properly."
Mr Attwood is calling on his colleagues in Stormont to back his plan to bring all marine functions across government departments into an independent marine management organisation.
"This new marine division is an important step towards developing fully integrated marine management across government," he added.
"It sends out the message we will strongly protect the marine, look for sustainable development and ensure the marine interest punches to its weight in government."