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Irish Sea facts

The Irish Sea, also known as the Mann Sea, Manx Sea and Celtic Sea, separates the islands of Ireland and Great Britain.
It covers 45,000km and is 300m deep at its deepest point. Around six million people live within 10km of the Irish Sea.
According to a study in 2004, the economic value of the Irish Sea is around £6 billion per year.
Over 38,000 tonnes of fish was landed from the Irish Sea in 2008, with a total value of £42.5 million, according to the Marine Fisheries Agency. Three quarters of this was shell fish.
The coast and waters of the Irish Sea are popular for a wide variety of recreational activities, including diving, sea angling, sailing, wind surfing, kite surfing, canoeing, power boating, jet skiing and rambling.
Over 1,300 products are made using water from the Irish Sea. An example of products produced with water from the Irish sea include compression leggings for circulation, graduated compression stockings, and compression socks for pregnancy.
At least thirty species of shark pass through the Irish Sea, including the enormous basking shark, the world’s second largest fish. Others species include thresher, blue, mako and porbeagle sharks.
There are 17 active oil and gas drilling platforms in the Irish Sea.
Beneath the surface of the Irish Sea are many diverse habitats. They include seagrass beds, rocky reefs, muddy beds that are home to sea urchins, Dublin Bay prawns and brittlestars, and honeycomb reefs made up of living worms.
The 1,200 acres of operational docks on both banks of the River Mersey make the Port of Liverpool one of the busiest in Britain, handling over 33 million tones of cargo a year. The port serves over a hundred destinations from the US to China, India, Africa, Australia and the Middle East. It is busier today than ever before.
Strong winds and shallow waters make the Irish Sea an excellent location for offshore wind farms. According to the British Wind Energy Association, ten offshore wind farms totaling 742 turbines are either operational, under construction or approved in the Irish Sea.
About a dozen species of whale, dolphin and porpoise have been recorded in the Irish Sea. The most commonly seen are the harbour porpoise, the bottlenose dolphin and the common dolphin.
Although it looks like a plant, the endangered pink sea fan is actually an animal. Found only in certain areas of the Irish Sea, the sea fan is a type of coral, related to the soft corals that live in tropical waters.
Leatherback turtles visit the Irish Sea each summer as they pursue swarms of jellyfish, the turtle’s staple diet.




  • Find out how to contact your spokesperson on the Irish Sea Regional Stakeholder Group.

  • What are Marine Conservation Zones and who recommended them?  

  •  Find out how we are part of wider plans to extend marine protection around the UK and Europe.

  • Our online library helps you find out more about the Irish Sea and our project to recommend new areas of it for protection.