Reminder of rules for protected marine mammals

14 Jul 2021

There are have been various sightings this week of a pod of dolphins in and around the Plymouth waters, we’d like to remind all vessel operators of the rules and best practice around marine mammals.

Dolphins, porpoise and whales are protected under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010, the Offshore Marine Conservation (Natural Habitats, & c.) Regulations 2007 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) recommends that all boat operators follow the WiSE Scheme

The scheme, which is a UK standard for commercial marine wildlife watching, includes a code of conduct and sets out best practice for wildlife watching.

The code includes that boats should:

  • stay 100 metres away from the animals
  • avoid groups of mothers and young completely
  • switch engines into neutral if animals actively come over to boats

Animals must not be actively pursued when they move away, and where they bow ride alongside vessels, vessels should not increase their speed or change course.

Animals must not be touched as this could be considered an offence.

If you see dolphins, porpoise or whales being disturbed within the Cattewater please contact the Harbour Office on 01752 665934.

If your enquiry is urgent and you cannot get hold of us on the number above, call Longroom Port Control +44 (0)1752 836953 who will be able to contact Harbour staff.

In 2014 two boat skippers were successfully prosecuted by Devon and Cornwall Police for reckless disturbance of a pod of dolphins.