Section 1 - Context for the UK Dolphin and Porpoise Conservation Strategy
1. This 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 (Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), Natural England (NE), Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).
2. The strategy aims to ensure effective management to achieve and/or maintain favourable conservation status for eight of the most commonly found dolphin and porpoise species in UK waters. In addition, the minke whale was included as the ninth species in the strategy. These species have been selected because they occur predictably in UK waters and have similar characteristics and conservation needs. The collective name for all species of dolphins, porpoises and whales is cetaceans.
3. The strategy provides a summary of existing management measures and obligations which help to manage pressures on the nine species of dolphins, porpoises and minke whales.
4. The strategy seeks a joined-up approach to management, with both site and wider measures working together to conserve dolphin, porpoise and minke whale populations. It proposes a series of high-level actions to deliver these outcomes.
5. The strategy's purpose is to deliver and/or maintain favourable conservation status by:
- addressing existing and emerging pressures in the marine environment, with a view to conserving UK dolphin, porpoise and minke whale populations;
- acknowledging where work is already planned or underway to meet conservation targets; and
- creating opportunities for sectoral collaboration.
6. It is recognised that there are actions and management that may come from this strategy that will have wider benefits to the marine environment and other species with similar life histories, food sources and habitat use, to the nine named species.
7. Each species has been assessed for vulnerability to pressures in UK waters. The assessments highlight where our understanding of vulnerability is incomplete, or where confidence in understanding potential impacts on UK populations may be limited.
8. The strategy provides nine high-level actions to enable better delivery of management, research, monitoring and communication. The strategy will be reviewed on a six-yearly cycle to take account of new research and monitoring data and to ensure the strategy and actions remain relevant and prioritised appropriately to achieve its objectives.
9. The strategy has the following objectives:
- Identify vulnerabilities and the relevant pressures on the populations of the nine species of dolphins, porpoises and minke whales in UK waters.
- Identify current management measures and obligations and opportunities for improvement.
- Prioritise the management of key pressures that pose the greatest risk to achieving and/or maintaining favourable conservation status.
- Initiate new actions, where necessary, to maintain or improve conservation status.
- Improve understanding of population status and trends.
- Raise public awareness and understanding of dolphin, porpoise and minke whale populations in UK waters.
- Bring together organisations to implement the actions.
10. The strategy covers all UK waters, from the coast out to the extent of UK continental shelf (see Figure 1) and encompasses existing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Actions set out in the strategy are intended to support the development of any conservation measures, required across UK waters, and the achievement of site-based conservation objectives. As part of achieving and/or maintaining favourable conservation status across UK waters, the strategy recognises local/regional variations in populations and pressures where appropriate (Table 4, Strategy Technical Report).
11. The species covered by the strategy are listed in Table 1 below.
Table 1: Species of dolphins, porpoises and minke whales covered by the strategy
|Atlantic white-sided dolphin
|Long-finned pilot whale
12. In developing the strategy, the following guiding principles were applied:
- The strategy aims to achieve and/or maintain the favourable conservation status of populations through management informed by research and monitoring.
- The strategy will achieve and/or maintain favourable conservation outcomes for species either through delivery of direct practical measures or improved understanding through research.
- The strategy will be implemented in partnership with stakeholders and will be reviewed regularly and updated to reflect changing priorities, new knowledge, and available resources. The existing valuable contribution from stakeholders is recognised and we will continue to develop opportunities for future collaborative delivery of the strategy actions.
- Existing commitments for dolphins, porpoises and minke whales will continue to be pursued. Evidence collected under this strategy will contribute to delivery of those commitments.
- Appropriate standards and information systems will be used in data collection and management. This will include Quality Assurance (QA) measures and ensure discoverability and accessibility of data.
- Spend on achieving the actions resulting from the strategy should be balanced with other relevant programmes that may improve our understanding of population status and trends, and key pressures.
- The actions proposed within the strategy should be integrated as far as possible with other activities to minimise resource requirements. We will work to achieve better co-ordination, share costs and avoid duplication where possible.
13. The strategy will be subject to periodic review to take account of new research and monitoring data and to ensure the strategy and actions remain relevant and prioritised appropriately to achieve its objectives.
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