Since the start of recent good weather in 2017, the Cornwall Marine and Coastal Code Group have had several reports of marine and coastal wildlife disturbance around our county.

Jet skis and seals photo by Cornwall Seal Group and Research Trust

 Activities both at sea and on the coast can have considerable impact on marine wildlife; it can cause distress and make the animal change its natural behaviour, and in the worst case it can lead to serious injuries, amputations and even death due to propeller strike. Chasing dolphins from their feeding grounds, flushing seals into the sea, or scaring birds from their roost in the summer may seem harmless, but the cumulative effects can be devastating.

The Cornwall Marine and Coastal Code Group, with members Cornwall Wildlife Trust, RSPB, Cornwall Seal Group, National Trust, Marine Stranding Network and the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), Devon and Cornwall Police Marine & Coastal Policing Team, the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and Natural England, formed in 2013 to tackle the problem of marine wildlife disturbance and harassment.

 

A seal on alert, time to back off - photo by Cornwall Seal Group and Research Trust

 Together they have set up the Marine Disturbance 24 hour Hotline on 0345 2012626, and the Coastal Code of Conduct web pages (www.cornwallmarinelifecode.org.uk) providing information for sea users to lessen their impact on the wildlife they spot. The hotline can be called for any instance of marine disturbance or harassment and appropriate steps will be taken.

Kayakers too need to follow our codes of conduct, photo by CMCCG

A verbal report should be supported with footage and/or photographic evidence if at all possible and each instance will be logged to help us understand and better tackle the issue.

So please, if you are visiting the coast this summer, be prepared and read up on how to behave around our wonderful wildlife. And if you see disturbance, be sure to call it in to our hotline so we can work together to protect Cornwall’s special coastline. Thank you!

 

Published: June 2017

Author: Abby Crosby (Marine Conservation Officer Cornwall Wildlife Trust)