David Ford said: “I welcome this plan and hope it will provide the necessary protection for local wildlife on and around the lough.
“Lough Neagh and its surround areas are an important part of the landscape of Northern Ireland. The rich diversity of species which live in the area will benefit greatly from this plan. Nature is Northern Ireland biggest tourism meal ticket and we must ensure it flourishes.
“There is enormous mix of issues like wildlife, use of water, fishing and tourism which all involve the lough. It is important that the future is planned effectively to protect the environment and maximise the new benefits, for example, in sustainable tourism. This plan goes a long way towards safeguarding the species around the lough and cementing its importance, both environmentally and economically.”