Greater protection needed for sea giants off UK shores
Yachting & Boating World: The Wildlife Trust is calling for dolphins, whales, porpoises and basking sharks to be protected within 17 hotspots. Greater protection is needed for whales, dolphins, porpoises and basking sharks off the coast of the UK, says a new report.
The Wildlife Trust has identified 17 important ‘megafauna hotspots’ around Britain’s shores that should be protected by law in order to preserve these populations for future generations.
While current Marine Protected Areas (MPA) introduced by the government go some way to protecting species, the report believes that dedicated protection is still needed for whales, dolphins, porpoises and basking sharks from fishing, marine development, pollution and boat traffic.
The report said: “The UK government is working towards achieving an ‘ecologically coherent network of MPAs’, however, there’s a glaring omission in this process: the absence of protection for the nutrient-rich and highly productive places on which marine megafauna most depend.”
The charity is asking for 17 key areas around the UK to be protected, meaning they’d be free from marine development, fishing and heavy boat use. At present, there is just one area like this in existence in Cardigan Bay, aimed at protecting bottlenose dolphins.
The Wildlife Trust’s Joan Edwards, said: “There’s an urgent need to create protected areas at sea for out ocean giants and ensure a network of sites to safeguard these species for generations to come.
“The UK has made huge advances in marine conservation in recent years but there is still a significant job to do. Our marine megafauna – whales, dolphins, porpoises and basking sharks – are still under thread. Many are suffering from the impacts of fishing, whether direct or indirect, increased boat traffic, marine developments and the more persistent effects of pollution.”
“Not all of these impact can be mitigated by spatial protection measures alone but, by designating areas of the sea which are known hotspots, we can provide safe havens for these species and some impacts can be limited or removed altogether.”
The Wildlife Trust would like to see the following areas protected:
1. Farnes East, Coquet to St Marys – notable for white-beaked dolphin, harbour porpoise and minke whale
2. Mid St George’s Channel – notable for common dolphin
3. Bideford North to Foreland Point – notable for harbour porpoise
4. East of Celtic Deep – notable for common dolphin and fin whale
5. Celtic Deep – notable for common dolphin and fin whale
6. South of Celtic Deep – notable for common dolphin and fin whale
7. Western Channel – notable for common dolphin, humpback whale and fin whale
8. Manacles – notable for basking shark, harbour porpoise and (seasonally) minke whale
9. Lizard, Western channel – notable for common dolphin, harbour porpoise, bottlenose dolphin and basking shark
10. Lyme Bay – notable for harbour porpoise
11. North and west coasts of Anglesey – notable for harbour porpoise
12. Lleyn Peninsula and the Sarnau – notable for harbour porpoise and Risso’s dolphin
13. Cardigan Bay – notable for harbour porpoise
14. Pembrokeshire Marine – notable for harbour porpoise
15. North of Celtic Deep – notable for common dolphin
16. Eastern coastline including Silver Pit – notable for harbour porpoise
17. Dogger bank – notable for harbour porpoise and white-beaked dolphin