New Wildlife Trusts' report identifies 17 important ‘megafauna hotspots’ around UK shores
Today a new report identifies 17 important ‘megafauna hotspots’ around UK shores for the first time and highlights the need to protect them.
Save Our Ocean Giants reveals the protected areas we need for dolphins, whales and basking sharks and 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.
The group of 47 Wildlife Trusts says 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:
- Farnes East, Coquet to St Marys – notable for white-beaked dolphin, harbour porpoise and minke whale.
- Mid St George’s Channel – notable for common dolphin.
- Bideford North to Foreland Point – notable for harbour porpoise.
- East of Celtic Deep – notable for common dolphin and fin whale.
- Celtic Deep – notable for common dolphin and fin whale.
- South of Celtic Deep – notable for common dolphin and fin whale.
- Western Channel – notable for common dolphin, humpback whale and fin whale.
- Manacles – notable for basking shark, harbour porpoise and (seasonally) minke whale.
- Lizard, Western channel – notable for common dolphin, harbour porpoise, bottlenose dolphin and basking shark.
- Lyme Bay – notable for harbour porpoise.
- North and west coasts of Anglesey – notable for harbour porpoise.
- Lleyn Peninsula and the Sarnau – notable for harbour porpoise and Risso’s dolphin.
- Cardigan Bay – notable for harbour porpoise.
- Pembrokeshire Marine – notable for harbour porpoise.
- North of Celtic Deep – notable for common dolphin.
- Eastern coastline including Silver Pit – notable for harbour porpoise.
- Dogger bank – notable for harbour porpoise and white-beaked dolphin.
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.
Pictures: Basking Shark. Credit: Paul Naylor
The areas marked on this map are the megafauna hotspots that The Wildlife Trusts would like to see protected. Some of these places already have designations – whether as Marine Conservation Zones, Special Areas of Conservation and more – but unfortunately whales, dolphins and basking sharks are not listed as ‘features’ to be protected within them.
Find out more at: http://www.wildlifetrusts.org