Megafauna hotspots: the missing link in marine protection

New report highlights the need to protect important places for whales, dolphins, porpoises and basking sharks

#oceangiants

Save Our Ocean Giants the protected areas we need for whales, dolphins, porpoises and basking sharks explains why we want to see these hotspots (special areas on which these megafauna depend) and species protected by law.

Dolphin and porpoise by Milly Metcalfe

Dolphin and porpoise by Natasha Massey

The marine ‘megafauna’ – whales, dolphins, porpoises and basking sharks
that are regularly found around our coast are all at risk from damaging activities and some species are in decline. Currently there are no areas of English waters protected specifically for them, and only one specifically designated for them in Wales. We think its time that changed.

We alongside other Wildlife Trusts are proposing four sites in Wales. Amendments to three existing MPAs, which should afford additional megafauna species protection and the designation of one new site, specifically for harbour porpoises. These are the places where these charismatic animals gather to feed, breed and socialise, and are worth protecting.

The ‘megafauna hotspots’ we want to see protected in Welsh waters are:

1.      North and west coasts of Anglesey – additional protection of harbour porpoises

2.      Pen Llyn a’r Sarnau Special Area of Conservation (SAC) – additional protection of harbour porpoises and rissos dolphins

3.      Cardigan Bay Special Area of Conservation (SAC) – additional protection of harbour porpoises

4.      Pembrokeshire Marine Special Area of Conservation (SAC) – additional protection of harbour porpoises

Map of Megafauna Hot Spots

Map of Megafauna Hot Spots

The areas marked on the map are the megafauna hotspots that The Wildlife Trusts in Wales would like to see protected.  Some of these places already have designations as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) but unfortunately only one site has marine megafauna (bottlenose dolphins in Cardigan Bay) listed as ‘primary features’ to be protected within them.  This is why we are calling for either new conservation areas, or for these additional species to be recognised and protected within existing designated areas.

For a more detailed map, please see the full technical report Megafauna hotspots: the missing link in our network of Marine Protected Areas.

The initial ‘megafauna hotspots’ that have been identified are based on combining data gathered by The Wildlife Trusts with publicly available data. There will be other important areas for which data is not yet available. What we are proposing here is step one. Further research is required to ensure all the right areas and the species have the protection they need. Joining your local Wildlife Trust can help fund important research such as this.

The Wildlife Trusts are urging the public to sign an e-action which calls on the Welsh Government to protect the four megafauna hotspots around our Welsh shores to secure a brighter future for whales, dolphins, porpoises and basking sharks.