On the eve of World Oceans Day, promising news has emerged from Scotland with the announcement of a public consultation on proposals to designate more marine protected areas (MPAs) in the region.
MPAs provide protection for the most important areas of whale and dolphin habitat, where a population might feed, breed, socialise and raise their calves and, over the past few years, WDC has campaigned hard for the inclusion of whales, dolphins and porpoises in MPA’s in UK waters and across the globe.
Four new MPAs, one of which spans the Sea of the Hebrides, have been recommended to add to the developing network of sites across Scotland’s seas.
Once in place, these new MPAs should protect some of Scotland’s most iconic species, including the basking shark, the world’s second largest fish, minke whales and the little-known Risso’s dolphin. Minke whales migrate to Scottish seas in greater numbers through the summer to feed and breed, but their numbers have declined historically due to commercial hunting. These species all make popular viewing for Scotland’s growing wildlife-watching industry and the proposed MPA for the Sea of the Hebrides would be a world first for this species.
However, these proposals would protect the sites in name only; a further process will be required to implement management measures to reduce the impact of human activities on the protected species and habitats.
Sarah Dolman, policy manager for Whale and Dolphin Conservation said: “We commend the Scottish government for bringing forward these MPA proposals. We need to understand and protect the important habitats of Scotland’s little known Risso’s dolphins and playful minke whales by monitoring and managing activities that may impact them, individually and collectively.”
STAY TUNED. We will be telling supporters how they can take part in the public consultation very shortly.