Enhancing conservation of dolphins and porpoise

UK’s first dolphin and porpoise conservation strategy launched.

A consultation on the UK’s first Dolphin and Porpoise Conservation Strategy has been launched.

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, plastics and acoustic disturbance
  • increase research on marine mammal entanglements and develop strategies to reduce the threat
  • establish UK-wide approaches to managing wildlife tourism
  • help us better understand the physical conditions of supporting habitats and prey

Scotland's Natural Environment Minister Ben Macpherson said:

“Sightings of these iconic and charismatic species are not only exciting experiences for those who witness them but they are also a good indication of the health of our marine environment. 

“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 allow us to better understand and address the pressures they face.

“Scotland’s waters are home to many unique species and this proposed strategy 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 now covers in excess of 37% of our sea area.”

UK Government Environment Minister, Rebecca Pow said:

“This consultation is an important step towards delivering vital protections for dolphin, whale and porpoise populations in UK waters.

“We are committed to working with our counterparts in the devolved administrations to ensure we understand the pressures these species face from pollution and human activity so that they can thrive in our seas.”

Northern Ireland’s Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots said:

“This proposed strategy sets out important steps to protect the dolphins and porpoises that live in Northern Ireland’s waters. Many of these animals will travel between our waters and that of the rest of the UK, and I welcome the collaboration there has been in developing this strategy and the commitments to future conservation of these iconic marine mammals.”

Welsh Government Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, said:

“We know public feeling is very strong when it comes to the conservation of key species, and I am sure there will be strong views on these measures, which will protect some of our most recognisable native species of whale, dolphin and porpoise.

“As in every part of the UK, the sight of such animals off the coasts of Wales is always a welcome and impressive one; but we must also recognise that ecologies and habitats have no respect for borders, and as such, I am very pleased all four UK nations are involved in this consultation.”


The Strategy has been developed by Scottish Government, in collaboration with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Welsh Government (WG), Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Northern Ireland (DAERA) and the UK Statutory Nature Conservation Bodies.

The consultation will run until Monday 14 June and is available to view. The strategy aims to ensure effective management to achieve and/or maintain Favourable Conservation Status of the Harbour porpoise, Common dolphin, Atlantic white-sized dolphin, Bottlenose dolphin, White-beaked dolphin, Risso’s dolphin, Killer whale, Long-finned pilot whale and Minke whale.

Favourable Conservation Status is an aim of the EU Habitats Directive and is defined by the UK Statutory Nature Conservation Bodies.

Information on Scotland’s Marine Protected Area network.

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