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Humpback whale underwater

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New report echoes WDC calls for protected areas in UK seas

WDC is pleased that the release today of a new report into the need for marine protected areas (MPAs) in UK seas echoes our own recent calls for urgent safe havens for whales and dolphins.  

WDC welcome the focus on this issue at a time when the the UK government has been told by the European Commission to designate sites for harbour porpoise protection.

In 2010, WDC released a report on UK whale, dolphin and porpoise marine protected areas (MPAs). We released a further report looking at a UK-wide MPA network (a legal requirement) to include whales, dolphins and porpoises, and focused on the need for harbour porpoise Special Areas of Conservation (SACS) in 2013.

It is important to remember that we already have a handful of SACs for bottlenose dolphins in Wales and Scotland. 

In Scotland, we currently have proposed MPAs for Risso’s dolphins (off North East Lewis in the Western Isles) and minke whales (in the Sea of Hebrides off the west coast and the Southern Trench in the Moray Firth). WDC collects field data in all these important habitats, with the assistance of trained local community groups. We hope these sites will reach the public consultation stage in 2015.

England is currently behind in its thinking on MPAs, suggesting that MPAs are not appropriate for mobile species such as whales, dolphins and porpoises. However this view is outdated because MPAs can provide valuable and much needed protection where animals repeatedly return to the same places – critical feeding or breeding habitats.