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Marine wildlife ahead…, proceed with care

They may not always be easy to spot, yet many diverse and charismatic species inhabit our coastal waters. With more and more people taking to the water each year, contact with marine life is increasing, too, so a new DVD has been developed to advise boat owners on how they can avoid disturbing these creatures, and reduce the number of injuries and even fatalities that can result from boat collision.

The WiSe Way to Watch Wildlife, produced by the WiSe scheme (Britain’s national standard for commercial marine wildlife watching operators) informs leisure boat owners on the best ways to view magnificent creatures such as whales, dolphins, basking sharks (pictured), seals, and seabirds in their natural habitat, so as to cause minimal disturbance. Many of these species are now protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act, so it is even more important that the basic standards promoted by the Wise scheme are adhered to.

Colin Speedie, Director of the WiSe scheme said: “The vast majority of boat owners take to the water to enjoy the natural world, and would never wish to cause harm to its wildlife, yet by being too eager to get a good view this can be the end result. This film demonstrates simple and practical ways to avoid causing disturbance, whilst ensuring that boat owners can continue to enjoy their encounters with marine wildlife.”

The 12 minute DVD has received support from WWF-UK and the Save Our Seas Foundation, and is presented by Ben Fogle, a committed supporter of British wildlife. It will be distributed by conservation agencies such as Scottish Natural Heritage around the regions, and can also be obtained directly from the WiSe scheme.

Over 100 boat operators in Scotland are now accredited by the WiSe scheme, which involves attendance at a one-day training course. The courses have been supported by Wild Scotland (Scotland’s wildlife tourism association) and Scottish Natural Heritage.

Wild Scotland’s manager, Caroline Warburton commented, “the WiSe scheme reinforces the wildlife-watching best practice already demonstrated by many wildlife-watching boats in Scotland. It also provides an important channel for informing other boat users who may be less familiar with the issues surrounding wildlife and boats. The launch of the DVD enables these messages about responsible behaviour around wildlife to be sent out to the wider boating community.”

WWF-UK Ambassador, Ben Fogle said: “I know from my travels around Britain, just what a fantastic array of wildlife we have around our shores. These species need our protection, and a Marine Bill is vital to ensuring their continued presence in our seas. The WiSe Way to Watch Wildlife delivers a vital message to boat owners that they too can play their part in ensuring that the wildlife we enjoy in our waters today will still be there for future generations to enjoy.”

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