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Harbour porpoise protection in UK waters
WDC has written two reports on what a coherent network of Marine Protected Areas for porpoises, dolphins and whales, should look like. However, the UK Government did not seem to agree with us - until now!
The UK hosts some of the highest densities of harbour porpoises in Europe and WDC has been campaigning for 20 years for better protection for this charismatic species. So far, the UK only designated one Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), Skerries and Causeway SAC in Northern Ireland, as a grade C for harbour porpoises. This means that this is the only site in UK waters where management measures for the conservation of porpoises are required. All other 33 marine SACs in the UK list the harbour porpoise as a grade D, meaning that the harbour porpoise does not feature in the site management scheme and is not taken into account in any subsequent Appropriate Assessment or the decision-making process or protection that flows from it under Article 6 of the EU Habitats Directive.
Failure to designate Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) for this species led to the European Commission issuing legal infraction proceedings against the UK Government in 2014 for failing to adhere to the EU Habitats Directive.
This finally lead the UK Governments to have scientific data from the past 18 years on the densities of harbour porpoises analysed by experts and announce a public consultation on six draft protected areas in Welsh (http://www.naturalresources.wales/mn2k?lang=en), English and Northern Irish (http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/SACconsultation) and Scottish waters (http://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/porpoiseSAC/?hpsac1=hpsac1) in January and March 2016 (see map below).
This is excellent news and we congratulate the UK Governments for doing so. We have analysed the consultation documents, looking for management options that detail strong and enforceable measures that are essential if we are to protect porpoise populations and provided a formal consultation response.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP
You can support UK harbour porpoises by letting the UK Governments know that you want safe homes for harbour porpoises by signing this letter.