Developed by the Scottish Government in collaboration with the UK Government, the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive, the consultation sets out measures to protect nine of the most common dolphin, whale and porpoise species found in UK waters.
The strategy identifies a number of pressures where further research or additional management measures could help to improve the conservation of the marine mammals. It includes actions to:
Improve our understanding of the impacts of pollutants and plastics;
Increase research on marine mammal entanglements and develop strategies to reduce the threat;
Establish UK-wide approaches to managing wildlife tourism;
And help us better understand the physical conditions of supporting habitats and prey.
Natural Environment Minister Ben Macpherson said: “This consultation is a milestone for marine protection and includes a range of measures that will help us to conserve dolphin, whale and porpoise populations in our waters and address the pressures they face.
“It builds on the work we are already doing to safeguard bottlenose dolphins, harbour porpoise, Minke whales and Risso’s dolphins through our Marine Protected Area (MPA) network, which covers 37 per cent of our sea area.”
The consultation will run until Monday, June 14, and is available to view at consult.gov.scot/marine-conservation/uk-dolphin-and-porpoise-conservation-strategy.
A new fund has also been launched to help communities and local groups get involved in monitoring Scotland’s seabed and coastlines.
The Community Marine Monitoring Equipment Fund is offering support to up to ten groups to buy equipment to record and monitor their local marine life.
The aim of the project is to enable communities and local groups to gain the skills, experience and knowledge to participate in biodiversity surveys in Scotland, helping to improve our knowledge of marine species and habitats.
Individual grants of up to £1500 will be offered for entry level equipment such as ID guides, quadrats and GoPros. Larger grants up to £3000 are available for joint applications between two or more groups.
Applications should have an emphasis on enabling community and/or youth engagement in marine monitoring.
The fund supports the publication last year of the community-led Marine Biodiversity Monitoring Handbook – Scotland’s first “how to” guide.
NatureScot project officer Madlaina Michelotti said: “Communities around our coasts tell us they want to get more involved with their local shores and waters, but we know that access to the right equipment and resources can sometimes be a barrier.
“This new fund is an exciting opportunity for communities and local groups to survey their local marine and coastal habitats in a fun and collaborative way.”
The closing date for applications is Friday, April 23. To find out more or to apply for a grant, visit www.nature.scot/funding-and-projects.
The project is a partnership between NatureScot, Fauna & Flora International (FFI), communities, local groups and individuals, with funding support from the William Grant Foundation.