Kitesurfing in Strangford Lough

Protection and consideration of Brent Geese, in the Strangford Lough area, has brought kite surfing and its potential impact on the environment to the attention of the National Trust and the NIEA. As kite surfers, we have a responsibility to the environment and habitat we are using to enjoy our sport. This will help ensure a safe and sustainable sport for everyone.

IKSA, NI Kitesurfing and Sport NI have engaged in discussions with the National Trust and NIEA in an effort to secure access to Strangford Lough for kite surfers. We’re very fortunate to have secured interim permission that allows us access to two spots to kite that covers both low and high tides and all the wind directions suitable for the Lough. During this interim permission, kite surfing and general recreational activity on the Lough will be closely monitored by various bodies. In addition, a professional, independent survey will be undertaken to assess the full impact of recreation on the Lough.

With this in mind, we have 'best practice guidelines' that will help to portray kite surfing in a positive way, not only during the survey period, but as an example to take forward.

WARDENS BAY – Low Water Spot
  1. Wardens Bay (West Spot) is best used at Low Tide, i.e. an hour and a half either side of low water giving us a 3 hour session.
  2. In an effort to protect the natural environment ALL launching / landing should be done at the waters edge - as far as is possible from the small area of eel grass present.
  3. Minimising time spent from launching to getting onto the water and vice versa on recovery will help to ensure that there is no adverse impact on the surrounding environment.
  4. Kiting away from the waters edge and outside the mussel bed area will help to maximise the distance between any feeding birds and kite surfers. i.e avoid kiting in the shallows and on the eastern side of the mussel bed.

 

GREYABBEY – High Water Spot (Football Pitch)
  1. Kite only at high water and best sessions are 1.5 hrs either side of HW. Check the tide has come in sufficiently to cover the eel grass feeding areas before going on the water ensuring again that kite surfing activity will NOT impact or disturb feeding geese.
  2. Keeping launch / land areas on the football pitch and not on the sand flats / eel grass areas will also help in this regard.
  3. Birds and geese are reported to nest on the shoreline, so to minimise any potential disturbance it's recommended to stay well back from the shoreline and the islands to the west of the bay.

We are fortunate that the local football club don't have a problem with us using the pitch to set-up and launch / land. Many locals use the green for other recreation so we ask all kiters to be mindful of this and exercise courtesy when using the area.

If anyone has any questions please feel free to contact us directly and we’ll be happy to talk through the progress with you.

Warren Vance, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.