Megafauna hotspots: the missing link in marine protection

Tuesday 4th November 2014

Harbour porpoiseHarbour porpoise - Colin Speedie

New report highlights need to protect important places for dolphins, whales and basking sharks.

Today a new report identifies 17 important ‘megafauna hotspots’ around our shores for the first time and highlights the need to protect them.

Save Our Ocean Giants – the protected areas we need for dolphins, whales and basking sharks explains why The Wildlife Trusts want to see these newly identified hotspots (special areas on which whales, dolphins and basking sharks most depend) protected by law. This would secure the missing link in marine protection for English and Welsh waters.

The UK Government is working towards achieving an ‘ecologically coherent network of Marine Protected Areas’, 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.

Joan Edwards, The Wildlife Trusts’ Head of Living Seas, said:
“Many people are surprised to discover that in the waters surrounding our shores you could encounter 29 different species of whale, dolphin and porpoise and the second largest shark in the world – the basking shark. However, there’s an urgent need to create protected areas at sea for our 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 threat. Many are suffering from the impacts of fishing, whether direct or indirect, increased boat traffic, marine developments and the more persistent effects of pollution - many substances bioaccummulate and affect generations of animals and overall population health.

“Not all of these impacts 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 ‘megafauna hotspots’ The Wildlife Trusts want to see protected are:

  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 beaked 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.

Rachel Shaw, Communications Officer, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust:
“Since starting to gather data on porpoise sightings in 2011, the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust's Coastal Warden Dave Miller, has recorded numerous sightings with some animals quite close to shore. Harbour porpoises have been recorded from the entire Lincolnshire coast from Far Ings in the Humber estuary to Skegness and Gibraltar Point. We convinced that is more people looked for harbour porpoises all year round it would reveal much more about how many are in the area.”

Megafauna hotspots

 

The Wildlife Trusts are urging the public to sign an e-action which calls on the Government to protect the 17 megafauna hotspots around our shores to secure a brighter future for dolphins, whales and basking sharks. Please see www.wildlifetrusts.org/oceangiants

 

Downloads

FilenameFile size
Save our Ocean Giants report405.37 KB

Tagged with: Living Seas, Species