WDC has handed over a huge 36,736 signatures from members of the public to Richard Lochhead, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment, asking the Scottish Government to include whales and dolphins in Scotland’s new marine protected area network.
The handover of the signatures at the Scottish parliament by WDC’s head of policy in Scotland, Sarah Dolman, leading international minke whale expert, Dr Mike Tetley, and Ruaraigh the inflatable Risso’s dolphin was made just a day before Mr Lochhead made a public announcement regarding the Government’s plans for its marine protected area (MPA) network.
In February, WDC launched its campaign to ensure whales and dolphins are included in the list of species to be protected when the Scottish Government makes its decision on which areas of Scottish seas will be protected. In just a few months, WDC has received nearly 37,000 responses from concerned members of the public (including over 100 Scottish and international marine scientists) demonstrating the extreme level of feeling on the matter.
“We have been overwhelmed by the level of support received from the Scottish and international public on this matter and the sheer numbers speak for themselves. We are very pleased that Mr Lochhead agreed to meet with us to receive the signatures and so acknowledge the passionate public feeling on this matter”, said Sarah Dolman.
“Scotland’s seas are truly outstanding, and the Scottish MPA network is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to protect and showcase our amazing whales and dolphins along with other nationally important species and habitats.
“We know that the Scottish Government has the scientific data needed to include whales and dolphins in the MPA network – we helped supply it! They now have to choose whether to provide whales and dolphins with protected areas or to continue to neglect some of Scotland’s most iconic and precious marine species.”
The Scottish Government’s report to the Scottish Parliament contains no commitments to set up MPAs for the priority Scottish species identified, including minke whales, Risso’s dolphins, white beaked dolphins and basking sharks.