New look for up­dated marine wildlife code

The Oban Times - - News -

A BEST prac­tice code for watch­ing marine wildlife around Scot­land’s coasts has been re­vised, up­dated and re­launched by Scot­tish Nat­u­ral Her­itage (SNH).

The Scot­tish Marine Wildlife Watch­ing Code ( SMWWC), orig­i­nally launched in 2006, has been up­dated to re­flect changes in leg­is­la­tion, ad­vances in tech­nol­ogy and up­dated con­tacts.

The SMWWC is com­ple­mented by a 62-page guide called Best Prac­tice for Watch­ing Marine Wildlife.

Packed with su­perb pho­to­graphs, the guide pro­vides ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion about the an­i­mals you are most likely to see in the seas around Scot­land, along with prac­ti­cal guid­ance on re­spon­si­ble be­hav­iour around th­ese an­i­mals.

Both doc­u­ments can be freely down­loaded from SNH’s web­site and spe­cial wa­ter­proof printed ver­sions have been is­sued to marine wildlife tour boat op­er­a­tors.

Cab­i­net sec­re­tary for the en­vi­ron­ment, cli­mate change and land re­form Roseanna Cun­ning­ham said: ‘Scot­land’s seas are mag­nif­i­cent for marine wildlife watch­ing and at­tract vis­i­tors from around the world which is why it’s so im­por­tant that we do all we can to pro­tect the iconic marine species that live in our wa­ters.

‘The newly re­vised code will en­cour­age peo­ple to en­joy the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment in a re­spect­ful and re­spon­si­ble man­ner.’

The SMWWC was de­vel­oped through wide­spread con­sul­ta­tion, par­tic­u­larly with wildlife tourism op­er­a­tors.

The code is de­signed for all those who watch marine wildlife around Scot­land, whether they are on the shore or at sea. It is not a law or reg­u­la­tion – its main pur­pose is to raise aware­ness and of­fer prac­ti­cal guid­ance for re­spon­si­ble marine wildlife watch­ing.

Mike Cant­lay, SNH chair­man, said: ‘Scot­land’s seas are home to a fan­tas­tic range of marine an­i­mals which at­tracts wildlife watch­ers from around the world. Re­cent stud­ies es­ti­mate that wildlife watch­ing in coastal and marine ar­eas ac­counts for £163 mil­lion in tourist ex­pen­di­ture each year.

‘Pioneering work such as our bask­ing shark tag­ging project is start­ing to re­veal just how im­por­tant our wa­ters are for many marine species. The Scot­tish Marine Wildlife Watch­ing Code is all about en­sur­ing that we can en­joy hav­ing th­ese an­i­mals in Scot­tish seas, and the ben­e­fits they bring, for gen­er­a­tions to come.’

The Scot­tish Marine Wildlife Watch­ing Code aims to pro­mote en­joy­ment of marine wildlife and raise aware­ness about the best ways to watch an­i­mals, in­clud­ing dol­phins, birds, seals, ot­ters, whales and bask­ing sharks. It pro­vides guid­ance on how best to en­joy watch­ing th­ese an­i­mals with­out dis­turb­ing or harm­ing them.

The code and the guide to best prac­tice are avail­able at www. snh.gov.uk/marinecode and an email ad­dress has been set up for queries or com­ments – marinecode@snh.gov.uk.

Pic­ture: Ben James The re­vised code will pro­tect Scot­land’s marine life.

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