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Wild Scotland help launch new marine code – the first of its kind in UK.

A new marine wildlife watching code, the first of its kind in the UK, was launched this week by Deputy Environment Minister Rhona Brankin.

Wild Scotland manager, Caroline Warburton also spoke at the launch, representing the position of the wildlife tourism sector. Wild Scotland welcomes the code as it brings together the numerous codes that are available but also because it applies to people who are watching wildlife, be they walking their dog on the beach or out in a kayak.

Ms Warburton commented “Disturbance is rarely intentional, it is usually due to lack of awareness and understanding. We hope that this code will help everyone enjoy wildlife watching.”

The code refers to the cumulative impacts of wildlife-watching and this ties in with the development of Wild Scotland’s Best Practice Guidelines which will provide guidance to commercial wildlife tourism companies on how best to watch wildlife.

The Scottish Marine Wildlife Watching Code has been developed by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) under the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act and aims to promote enjoyment of marine wildlife and raise awareness about the best ways to watch species including dolphins, birds, seals, otters and basking sharks.

The code’s development follows widespread consultation, particularly with marine wildlife tourism operators.  It includes recommendations, advice and information relating to commercial and leisure activities involving the watching of marine wildlife.

Launching the Code at the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society Wildlife (WDCS) Centre in SpeyBay, Morayshire, Rhona Brankin reinforced Wild Scotland’s statement that Scotland is Europe’s No.1 Wildlife Watching Destination. The minister said “Scotland is one of the best places in Europe to watch whales, dolphins, basking sharks, seals and birds which make our coasts such interesting places to visit.

“Watching marine wildlife is exciting and an enjoyable way to learn about our wild animals, but it is important that we do it responsibly. This code sets out simple steps we can all take to enjoy wildlife without disturbing it.

Both the Minister and Scottish Natural Heritage acknowledged that the wildlife watching industry is an increasingly significant part of Scottish tourism.

The new voluntary code is a comprehensive document covering all forms of marine life around Scotland which relates to all marine wildlife watching, not only wildlife tourism operators.

Further information about the new Scottish Marine Wildlife Wathing Code can be obtained from www.marinecode.org.

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