The government of the UK unveiled the nation’s first-ever national Marine and Coastal Wildlife Code. Which provides courteous advice and guidance to encourage responsible beachgoing.
The UK coastline is home to approximately 95% of Europe’s grey seal population. Approximately 25% of Europe’s reproductive seabirds, among other iconic species and habitats. It is also a popular tourist destination. The ongoing efforts to establish the King Charles III England Coast Path – which, when completed, will be the world’s longest waymarked coastal path at over 2,700 miles – are allowing more people than ever before to access these environments.
Nonetheless, as the number of visitors to our coastlines increases, it is crucial that our precious marine life remains as undisturbed as feasible. Young seals, for instance, can expend vital energy if startled by people approaching too closely or making too much noise, making it difficult for them to haul out of the water to rest and digest their meal. In a poor year of disturbance, only 25 percent are likely to reach 18 months of age.
Developed in collaboration with organisations such as Whale and Dolphin Conservation, the RSPB, Shark Trust, and Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust, the Marine and Coastal Wildlife Code provides guidance for those walking along the coast or participating in water-based activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding, and jet skiing.
Marine Minister Lord Benyon said:
Ensuring everyone has access to nature is a priority for this government – but is it absolutely vital that people enjoy nature responsibly.
The Marine and Coastal Wildlife Code will enable everyone to make the most of our treasured outdoor places whilst protecting the very species and habitats that make our coastline so special.
It provides specific guidance regarding animals such as seabirds, seals, dolphins, sharks, and turtles, as well as information regarding reproductive seasons and how species may react to disturbance.
The government’s Environment Improvement Plan stipulated that everyone should reside within 15 minutes of walking distance of a green or blue space, and the Marine and Coastal Wildlife Code will ensure that they can do so without harming the environment.
By approaching animals to take photographs, crowding or circling them, making a commotion, losing control of their dog, or damaging and altering habitats, visitors can disturb wildlife.
Since 2014, the number of disturbance incidents involving coastal pedestrians, jet skis, and paddle sports has more than tripled in Cornwall, according to the Cornish Wildlife Trust. According to reports, one of the greatest hazards to Britain‘s breeding seabirds is a disturbance.
The Code also details how to report injured, distressed, or deceased animals, including through the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP). Together with the CSIP, Defra has announced nearly £700,000 to finance vital research to protect the harbour and grey seals in British waters.