Do you enjoy messing about in boats? You could sail down Strangford Lough or relax in a cabin cruiser along Lough Erne. Find out more about what you can do on waterways.
Find your local waterway
Find out where your nearest waterway is from the Discover Northern Ireland or the Waterways Ireland websites. Or, find out about surfing off Portrush or Portstewart or skiing on the Lower River Bann on the Discover Ireland website. Make sure you know and follow the waterways code.
There is a wealth of information on nidirect about angling in Northern Ireland.
Waterways are fantastic places to enjoy, but you should always keep safety in mind. Check out the water safety guide from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.
Tips for being on or near waterways
Rivers, as well as the land close to them, are the property of the landowner. Even if a right of way exists beside a river, this does not give you the right to fish. Sometimes the owner may lease the fishing rights to a club, whose members may have exclusive access to the waterside.
Canal towpaths are legally part of the canal. The towpath beside a canal is usually available for public use on foot, and sometimes by bicycle. Some towpaths are public rights of way, but you should follow byelaws or restrictions on towpaths and be especially careful at locks.
Natural lakes and their shores may not always be open to the public. Any right of access to the land surrounding the lake does not necessarily give you right of access to the water, or rights to swim, fish or launch a boat.
Reservoirs and their surrounding land belong to water companies, Waterways Ireland or private industries. There are no general public rights, but there may be some lenient access to their shores.
Nature and wildlife
Wetland areas are wide ranging and enjoyed by people who love wildlife. From ponds and rivers to reedbeds and bogs, they are home to a huge variety of plants and animals. If you are lucky you can see a wide variety of fish and birds.
To find out more about the wildlife in rivers and wetlands, visit the Ulster Wildlife Trust website. More information on birds (who make their homes by rivers, lakes and wetlands) can be found on the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) website.
Water users warned of threat of Killer Shrimp
Water users are being asked to clean and disinfect boats and equipment before and after use following the discovery of the Killer Shrimp at a reservoir in England and at two sites in Wales sites in England and Wales.
All water users should be careful when moving boats and equipment between water bodies to help prevent the introduction and spread of all invasive species.
The Killer Shrimp (Dikerogammarus villosus), which originates from the Ponto-Caspian region of Eastern Europe, has spread across much of Western Europe through a series of connected waterways. The recent arrival of this species in Britain has however increased the risk for it to spread to the island of Ireland. Experts in Northern Ireland are now on high alert.
The so called Killer Shrimp is considerably larger and far more aggressive than our native shrimp species. If it arrives in Northern Ireland, it could threaten a wide diversity of native aquatic insect species. It has caused significant impacts to biodiversity in the areas it has invaded in Europe and is considered a high risk species.
The Killer Shrimp can dominate the habitat it invades resulting in the extinction of native species.
All anglers and boat owners travelling to and from Britain should take extra precautions to prevent this invasive species from arriving in Northern Ireland.
All water should be drained from boats, equipment and kit before leaving any water body. They also advise that boats and equipment should be disinfected between each use. This will help to keep the Killer Shrimp and other aquatic invasive species out of Ireland.
If this species arrived in one of our major water bodies it could spread very rapidly. Preventing the arrival of this species is a priority.
Further information on invasive species can be found at the Invasive Species Ireland website.