New Wildlife Trust report


Today a new report,  Save Our Ocean Giants – the protected areas we need for dolphins, whales and basking sharks, identifies 17 important ‘megafauna hotspots’ around our shores for the first time and highlights the need to protect them.

  1. Farnes East, Coquet to St Marys – notable for white-beaked dolphin, harbour porpoise and minke whale.
  2. Mid St George’s Channel – notable for common dolphin.
  3. Bideford North to Foreland Point – notable for harbour porpoise.
  4. East of Celtic Deep – notable for common dolphin and fin whale.
  5. Celtic Deep – notable for common dolphin and fin whale.
  6. South of Celtic Deep – notable for common dolphin and fin whale.
  7. Western Channel – notable for common dolphin, humpback whale and fin whale.
  8. Manacles – notable for basking shark, harbour porpoise and (seasonally) minke whale.
  9. Lizard, Western channel – notable for common dolphin, harbour porpoise, bottlenose dolphin and basking shark.
  10. Lyme Bay – notable for harbour porpoise.
  11. North and west coasts of Anglesey – notable for harbour porpoise.
  12. Lleyn Peninsula and the Sarnau – notable for harbour porpoise and Risso’s dolphin.
  13. Cardigan Bay – notable for harbour porpoise.
  14. Pembrokeshire Marine – notable for harbour porpoise.
  15. North of Celtic Deep – notable for common dolphin.
  16. Eastern coastline including Silver Pit – notable for harbour porpoise.
  17. Dogger bank – notable for harbour porpoise and white-beaked dolphin.

The report explains why The Wildlife Trusts want to see these newly identified hotspots (special areas on which whales, dolphins and basking sharks most depend) protected by law. This would secure the missing link in marine protection for English and Welsh waters.

The UK Government is working towards achieving an ‘ecologically coherent network of Marine Protected Areas’, however, there’s a glaring omission in this process: the absence of protection for the nutrient-rich and highly productive places on which marine megafauna most depend.


Joan Edwards, The Wildlife Trusts’ Head of Living Seas, said:

Many people are surprised to discover that in the waters surrounding our shores you could encounter 29 different species of whale, dolphin and porpoise and the second largest shark in the world – the basking shark.  However, there’s an urgent need to create protected areas at sea for our ocean giants and ensure a network of sites to safeguard these species for generations to come. 

The UK has made huge advances in marine conservation in recent years but there is still a significant job to do.  Our marine megafauna – whales, dolphins, porpoises and basking sharks – are still under threat.  Many are suffering from the impacts of fishing, whether direct or indirect, increased boat traffic, marine developments and the more persistent effects of pollution – many substances bioaccummulate and affect generations of animals and overall population health.

Not all of these impacts can be mitigated by spatial protection measures alone but, by designating areas of the sea which are known hotspots, we can provide safe havens for these species and some impacts can be limited or removed altogether.


The Wildlife Trusts are urging the public to sign an e-action which calls on the Government to protect the 17 megafauna hotspots around our shores to secure a brighter future for dolphins, whales and basking sharks.

Photo: Andrew Pearson
Photo: Andrew Pearson

9 Replies to “New Wildlife Trust report”

  1. One of the best years ever on and around Mull with 50 basking Sharks in a day, 1000+ Common Dolphins, Bottle nosed Dolphins, Minke Whales and 3 Killer Whales not to mention the bird life often with 1000s of Manxs Shearwaters!! Boat out of Tobermory with my youngest head guide with Sealife Surveys.

  2. There one reason why the government isn’t doing this. The commercial fishing industry. An industry that employs a tiny amount of people (6,000 in E&W) and has a tiny impact on the UK economy (£60m first sale value, £160m with shellfish included). For some strange reason it has government departments and Ministers falling over themselves to embolden it, subsidise it and generally ignore criticism of it – bit like the NFU really.

    Until that changes good luck Wildlife Trusts. Plenty of other industries provide more employment and money to the UK economy (the recreational sea angling industry for one, coastal tourism for another!) but don’t get the level of support the commercial fishing does. Go figure.

    1. Julian,

      Fascinating. Do those figures also include the other EU commercial fishing interests who fish in the areas in question ie the Spanish, French, Danish etc or is this referring only to the UK’s commercial fishing fleet and its fishing quota?

  3. There was coverage of this on the Today programme this morning. Not quite sure why they used the word ‘predator’ as a generic term to cover the whole group but it was very interesting. Setting out towards Grassholm from St Justinian’s the lady from the Wildlife Trusts was delighted to see her first Risso’s dolphin in 25yrs of surveying that area! Julian’s comments above are fascinating and revealing.
    Good luck to this Wildlife Trusts initiative, I shall sign the e-action.

  4. UK landings, so could include EU vessels landing here, some do. Up to 12 miles is UK, EU may have some rights to fish within that to six miles but it ain’t a lot. Contrary to what the uk fishing industry would have you believe. Some EU vessels are larger and more efficient that we are though!

    1. Thanks Julian. Very revealing. Does the EU have any competency here or does the UK have primacy?

  5. In a perfect world this would be a no brainer – some of the planet’s most magnificent and intelligent creatures need our help and the oceans are so vast the Wildlife Trusts are only asking for a tiny fragment to be protected. Yet I heard on the radio the Government trot out some rubbish “Ah but they move about”. Good grief: why can’t they agree and do it now? Probably asking Frau Merkel first if it’s OK! I’ve signed.

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