DSP Final Report by Sf2NX74




   A Report for Scottish Wildlife Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage
               and the EU LIFE Programme

                       by Holly Arnold

                                                                 March 1997

Interest in the small resident population of bottlenose dolphins in the Moray Firth in Scotland
has increased during the past few years, and the area is becoming known for some of the best
shore-based dolphin watching sites in Europe. In response to an increase in people visiting
this area in the hope of seeing dolphins, the number of commercial dolphin watching boats in
the Moray Firth has risen from one operator in 1990, to six in 1995 and nine operators in

In contrast to most shore-based viewing, dolphin watching boats also offer passengers the
possibility of seeing these wild animals up close. Well planned trips provide a source of reve
ue for local businesses, and an excellent educational opportunity for disseminating
information about dolphins and other wildlife as well as the marine environment in general.
An interesting and informative cruise should also raise public awareness of the need to
safeguard cetaceans and other marine life in a healthy environment. Boat-based dolphin
watching is still a relatively new feature of the local tourist industry in the Moray Firth.
However, both here and in other parts of the world where this type of marine tourism is well
established, poorly managed cruises can disturb and even endanger the very animals upon
which this activity depends.

In 1995 the joint partnership of Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Wildlife Trust and the EU
LIFE Programme initiated a voluntary Accreditation Scheme and Code of Conduct for
dolphin watching boats in the Moray Firth. This innovative effort, called the ‘Dolphin Space
Programme’(DSP), was developed and implemented locally on a co-operative rather than
statutory basis. The main objective of the DSP is to reduce disturbance from dolphin
watching boats and recreational craft so that the behaviour, distribution and status of
bottlenose dolphins and other cetacean populations in the Moray Firth are not adversely
affected. The scheme also promotes improvements in the quality and sustainability of
dolphin watching activities in the Firth, and aims to encourage the development of similar
good practice guidelines for wildlife cruise operators throughout Scotland. In the first year,
four out of six commercial operators signed up to the scheme. In 1996, all nine operators
became accredited.

The following report describes the development of the prototype Accreditation Scheme, and
assesses the progress made during this project towards an effective management system for
commercial boat-based dolphin watching. In light of experience gained during the piloting
of the Accreditation Scheme in 1995 and 1996, recommendations are made for the future
management of dolphin watching and other boating activities which may contribute to threats
to the long term viability of the bottlenose dolphin population in the Moray Firth.

Dolphin Space Programme                                                       Arnold 1997
SUMMARY .....................................................................................................             1


1.1         The International Whale Watching Industry........................................                             5
1.2         Whale Watching in Britain ..................................................................                  5
1.3         Whale Watching in Scotland ...............................................................                    6
1.4         Whale Watching in the Moray Firth ....................................................                        6
1.5         Economic Impact of Dolphin Watching in the Moray Firth ................                                       7

2           WHALE WATCHING AND THE ENVIRONMENT ...................                                                        8

2.1         Short Term Impacts ..............................................................................             8
2.2         Long Term Impacts ..............................................................................              9

3           WHALE WATCHING REGULATIONS AND LEGISLATION ..                                                                10

3.1         International Whale Watching Guidelines and Regulations ..................                                   11
3.2         Recommendations for Whale Watching Guidelines and Regulations ...                                            11
3.3         Cetacean Protection Legislation and Agreements in the UK .................                                   13
3.3.1       Legislation ..............................................................................................   13
3.3.2       National and European Agreements .......................................................                     13
3.3.3       Whale Watching Guidelines in the UK ..................................................                       14

4           BACKGROUND TO WHALE WATCHING IN SCOTLAND .......                                                             15

4.1         Recreational Boats ...................................................................................       15
4.1.1       Dolphin Awareness Initiative ..................................................................              16
4.2         Dolphin Watching Boats ..........................................................................            16
4.2.1       Future Firths Conference ..........................................................................          17
4.2.2       Workshop 10 June 1994 ...........................................................................            17
4.2.3       Inverness Boat Operators ..........................................................................          18

5           ACCREDITATION SCHEME PROJECT .......................................... 18

5.1         Project Structure ........................................................................................   18
5.2         Project Objectives .....................................................................................     19
5.3         Recreational Boat Traffic ..........................................................................         20
5.4         Project Development and Implementation: Objectives Achieved ............                                     21
Dolphin Space Programme                                                                                            Arnold 1997
5.4.1       Code of Conduct and Accreditation Scheme ............................................                             21     1995 ..........................................................................................................   24     1996 ..........................................................................................................   25
5.4.2       Interpretive Material .................................................................................           26
5.4.3       DSP Media Distribution and Publicity .....................................................                        27
5.4.4       Project Launch ..........................................................................................         28
5.4.5       Training .....................................................................................................    28
5.4.6       Monitoring ................................................................................................       29

6           EXPERIENCE FROM OTHER AREAS ............................................. 39

7           SUMMARY ASSESSMENT .................................................................. 42

7.1         Assessment of Dolphin Space Programme ...............................................                             42
7.1.1       Social Impact .............................................................................................       42
7.1.2       Economic Impact .......................................................................................           43
7.1.3       Environmental Impact ................................................................................             44
7.1.4       The Dolphin Space Programme and Future Work .....................................                                 45



10          RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH ........................ 52


Table 1:        Summary of Whale Watching Regulations World-wide ........................ 10
Table 2:        Moray Firth Boat Operators 1995 ........................................................... 24
Table 3:        Moray Firth Boat Operators 1996 ........................................................... 25

Figure 1:        Dolphin Watching in the Moray Firth ..................................................... 7a

REFERENCES ......................................................................................................... 53

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ..................................................................................... 55

Dolphin Space Programme                                                                                              Arnold 1997
Dolphin Space Programme       Arnold 1997

1.1     The International Whale Watching Industry

        The commercial whale watching industry began in 1955 along the southern California
        coast of North America, and during the past 40 years has become an important
        element of the tourist industry in many parts of the world. The initial focus of this
        activity was the larger ‘great whales’, such as grey and humpback whales. However,
        the term ‘whale watching’ now encompasses air, land and sea-based activities whose
        objective is to observe any species of porpoise, dolphin or whale, all of which are
        members of the group of marine mammals known as cetaceans.

        Whale watching has brought great pleasure to millions of people, and encourages an
        interest in the conservation of the marine environment, as well as bringing economic
        benefit to numerous communities world-wide. Commercial whale watching now
        represents a significant economic activity in a number of countries and is growing
        rapidly in some of the more newly established locations, such as Great Britain,
        Argentina and Mexico. In fact, the growth of whale watching in Mexico has been so
        rapid that this country is now limiting further expansion to protect the whales and their
        environment, while growth of the industry in the initiating country, the USA, has
        generally stabilised at its present level (IWC, 1995).

        The whale watching industry expanded rapidly in the 1980s, and in the decade
        between 1981 and 1991, total revenues world-wide increased from £8.4 million to
        £184.8 million. However, the popularity of commercial whale watching enterprises
        has increased even more dramatically during the past 5 years. In 1991, an estimated 4
        million people world-wide went on whale watching trips. In 1994, at an average
        increase of 10.3% per year, about 5.4 million people in some 65 countries and
        overseas territories enjoyed whale watching, creating total revenues (including tour
        fees, travel, accommodation and all other related expenditures) of just over £311
        million. World-wide, the increase in direct revenues to tour operators rose from £45
        million in 1991 to an estimated £75.6 million in 1994 (Hoyt, 1995a).

1.2     Whale watching in Britain

        Whale watching in Britain began in the late 1980s on the west coast of Scotland and
        has risen steadily in popularity and commercial benefit to associated communities. It
        is estimated that in 1991, 400 people were involved in whale watching activities in the
        UK, producing estimated total revenues of at least £192,000. Direct revenues
        comprised some £25,000 of this sum (Hoyt, 1995a). At least 9 areas in the UK
        currently offer whale watching activities, and in 1994 over 15,000 people visited
        communities in England, Scotland and Wales to enjoy this increasingly popular
        wildlife tourism activity, bringing in some £6.5 million in total revenues, including
        £850,000 in direct revenues to the tour operators. Great Britain is thought to have
        ‘considerable potential’ for further expansion of commercial whale watching (Hoyt,

Dolphin Space Programme                                                         Arnold 1997
1.3     Whale Watching in Scotland

        Commercial whale watching in Scotland began in 1989 off the Isle of Mull. After a
        decade of running marine wildlife trips in the waters off the north coast of Mull,
        during which minke whales and other cetaceans were frequently sighted, Sea Life
        Surveys began offering whale watching trips, both as a commercial venture and in
        order to fund associated minke whale research. There are now numerous marine
        wildlife tour operators around the Scottish coast working from boats or guiding walks
        along the shore and into the surrounding countryside. In the Minch area alone, there
        are at least 76 tour operators involved in wildlife tourism activities. Some 61 of the
        tour operators offer boat trips, most of which are of a general nature, rather than
        focused exclusively on marine wildlife (Morrison, 1995). A number of businesses in
        Scotland now specifically offer whale and dolphin watching boat trips, or the chance
        of seeing whales as part of a wildlife cruise.

        It is difficult to obtain up-to-date figures reflecting the number of people who have
        participated in whale watching activities in Scotland in recent years. It has been
        estimated that some 15,000 people were involved in whale watching in the UK in
        1994 with a total revenue of approximately £6.5 million (Hoyt, 1995a). Many of the
        prime sites for this activity are based along the coasts of North and West Scotland,
        some in economically fragile areas. Total world-wide whale watching revenues
        increased between 1991 and 1994 at an average rate of 16.6% annually, while average
        numbers of whale watchers increased some 16.7% world-wide (Hoyt, 1995a).
        Allowing for seasonal and local variations, at the rates suggested by Hoyt of a 16.7%
        increase in visitor numbers and a 16.6% raise in whale watching revenues over the
        past 2 years in Britain, it could be projected that some 17,500 people participated in
        whale watching annually during 1996, earning total revenues of about £7.5 million a

        It can be seen that assessments of the value of this growing industry vary widely
        depending upon the estimators used, and it would be helpful to have a more accurate
        picture of economic impact of this sector of wildlife tourism in Scotland. An
        economic survey of wildlife tourism operators undertaken for the Tourism and
        Environment Task Force should be available in the spring of 1997, and this will give a
        clearer picture of the value and economic impact of wildlife tourism in Scotland,
        including cetacean watching activities.

1.4     Whale Watching in the Moray Firth

        For the purposes of this report, the Moray Firth in Scotland encompasses the large
        triangular area of water from Duncansby Head in the North, to the sheltered Inner
        Firths in the southwest (including the Beauly, Inverness, Cromarty and Dornoch
        Firths), and to Fraserburgh in the east. As the home of the only known resident
        population of bottlenose dolphins in the North Sea, the area is best known for its
        dolphin watching opportunities. Other species of cetacean are also seen in the Moray

Dolphin Space Programme                                                       Arnold 1997
        Firth, including harbour porpoise, white-beaked and Risso’s dolphins, minke, pilot
        and occasionally killer whales.

        The shores of the Firth have a number of viewpoints which are often referred to as the
        finest land-based sites in Europe for watching dolphins at close range (Hoyt, 1992).
        Observation sites, hydrophone links and visitor information are available at the
        Highland Council North Kessock Seal and Dolphin Centre and the South Kessock
        Community-based Information Centre; other particularly well-known shore watching
        locations are found at Chanonry Point, Cromarty and along the northeast shore of the
        Firth between Buckie and Spey Bay. Boat-based dolphin watching is also available
        and is centred mainly on the Inverness and Cromarty Firths (Figure 1)
        The Moray Firth bottlenose dolphins represent a small and relatively isolated
        population of about 130 animals at the northern limit of its range. As one of only two
        or three known resident populations of bottlenose dolphins in British waters, these
        animals are of both national and international importance. This population has also
        been studied continuously since 1989 and both the research and the animals have been
        well publicised in recent years. Not surprisingly, the dolphins in the Moray Firth have
        become the focus of growing public interest.

        In the spring of 1993, the Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) launched
        an Adopt-a-Dolphin scheme, further raising national and international awareness that
        bottlenose dolphins are frequently seen from the shores of this Highland firth.
        Commercial wildlife and dolphin watching trips have increased accordingly from one
        commercial boat operator who began business in 1990, to 6 commercial and one non-
        commercial operator in 1995. In 1996, 9 commercial wildlife cruise ventures operated
        in the Moray Firth. This included 2 boats whose primary business is sea angling, 4
        small boats carrying 8-12 passengers, as well as 3 larger vessels with capacities of 40,
        50 and 90 passengers each.

1.5     Economic impact of dolphin watching in the Moray Firth

        There is no current estimate of the value of whale watching or marine wildlife tourism
        ventures in Scotland or the Moray Firth area in particular. However, in 1993, Ross &
        Cromarty District Council surveyed a sample of members of the Whale and Dolphin
        Conservation Society (WDCS) Adopt-a-Dolphin scheme. The main aim of the survey
        was to ascertain the holiday intentions of dolphin adopters and to quantify the
        potential economic benefits to the area. Some 86% of respondents intended to visit
        Ross & Cromarty to see ‘their’ dolphin, with an average proposed length of stay of 5
        nights and average party size of 3 persons. By July of 1995, over 3,000 dolphin
        adopters had requested holiday information from Ross & Cromarty District Council.
        Using the STB average of £34 daily spend per visitor, and translating the results of
        this survey into projected local income, the potential total revenues from local dolphin
        watching holidays were estimated at around £1.4 million (Ireland, pers. comm). The
        adoption scheme has grown in popularity and now includes some 16,500-17,000
        members, with a special dolphin watching weekend in the Moray Firth planned for
        spring 1997 (M. Alton, pers comm). A recent socio-economic survey conducted for
Dolphin Space Programme                                                        Arnold 1997
        the Highland Region LIFE Programme estimates that the nine cruise boats in the
        Moray Firth carried over 30,000 passengers in 1996 (INC, 1996).


        People clearly benefit from commercial and recreational whale watching, not only
        economically, but also through the sheer pleasure and sense of wonder that
        interactions with cetaceans inspire. Well managed commercial whale watching
        cruises can enhance their customers’ experience, as well as promote awareness of
        conservation aims, through good educational interpretation which explains the biology
        of the animals observed, and their role in the ecology of the wider marine

        However, research has shown that the presence and behaviour of whale watching
        vessels can have negative impacts on the whales themselves. Boat traffic may
        adversely affect cetaceans in a number of ways, including direct collision resulting in
        injury or death, or marine pollution from poorly handled fuel oils or litter.
        Harassment, and engine noise may also cause disturbance of a whale’s natural
        behaviours, leading to disruptions of social bonds between mothers and calves,
        reductions in feeding and other essential activities, as well as other effects of stress
        (Curran, et al. 1995).

        There is international concern that disturbance from unregulated boat-based whale
        watching may have serious negative effects on individual whales and the populations
        which have become the focus of whale watching activities. Of particular concern is
        the possibility that boat traffic volume and behaviour may cause irreversible changes
        in cetacean population behaviour, distribution and status, particularly for those
        remnant species or populations whose likelihood of survival is already marginal.

2.1.    Short Term Impacts

        A number of common indicators are used to assess short term changes in cetacean
        behaviour in response to disturbance. These include: changes in blow rates,
        surfacings, dive times, group structure and spacing, direction of travel, vocalisations,
        and changes in essential behaviours such as resting, socialising or feeding activities.
        Some changes in vocalisation in response to vessels may also reduce the efficiency of
        communication which could, in situations where reliable and efficient communication
        is imperative, limit ways of overcoming stressful or dangerous events. Reactions
        which indicate disturbance in response to boat proximity and behaviour include:
        increased dive times, reduced surface intervals, increased travelling speed, frequent
        changes in direction, movement away from a boat, bunching of groups, changes in
        vocalisation patterns, and physiological changes in heart rate and blood chemistry
        (IFAW et al, 1995).

        For example, a recent study in the Moray Firth in Scotland noted differences in the
        diving behaviour of bottlenose dolphins before and after they were approached by
        boats. The results of this research showed a significant reduction in dolphin
Dolphin Space Programme                                                         Arnold 1997
        surfacings following approaches by a dolphin watching boat, while dolphins behaved
        normally as routine traffic passed through the study area (Janik & Thompson, 1996).

2.2     Long Term Impacts

        Some of the longer term responses to disturbance could include: changes in
        distribution such as movement away from an area or changes in migratory routes,
        reduced fitness and reproductive success, changes in calving rates, separation of
        mothers and calves leading to possible increased mortality in offspring, and a decline
        in population numbers.

        Significant short term changes have been reported in ventilation behaviour of
        humpback whales feeding in Glacier Bay, Alaska in response to the proximity and
        speed of large cruise ships. The whales also tended to move away from such vessels
        as the ships approached more closely. In the long term, a change in distribution
        became evident when fewer animals were reported in a whale watching area.
        However, the whales may have moved to the location of higher prey density (IFAW,
        et al, 1995). Although there is no clear link between the whale watching ships using
        the former feeding area and the degree of use by humpback whales, there is also no
        indication that the boats did not have an effect on the change in distribution.

        The only clearly established causal link between short term and long term impacts due
        to human interactions with whales has been found at Monkey Mia in Shark Bay,
        Western Australia. It was discovered that interactions which were perceived as
        positive for people and dolphins alike can also have subtle negative effects which only
        become apparent after years of study. A number of wild bottlenose dolphins in Shark
        Bay regularly enter the shallows near a public beach, where for years they have been
        hand-fed and stroked by people visiting the bay to see the dolphins. It has been found
        that hand-fed females in this group have lower reproductive success, evidenced by
        increased juvenile mortality, than other dolphins in the wider population that do not
        interact with people. The causal link is that as a result of regular hand feeding, there is
        reduced maternal investment in protecting juveniles from predators. Also, the
        juvenile dolphins have not been trained to forage effectively and so are less able to
        feed themselves independently; thus juvenile mortality has increased (IFAW et al,


3.1     International Whale Watching Guidelines and Regulations

        At least 12 countries and overseas territories have voluntary guidelines for whale
        watching, including Argentina, Australia, Belize, the Bahamas, British Virgin Islands,
        Canada, the Dominican Republic, France, Galapagos Islands, Japan, Turks & Caicos,
        the UK and the USA (Carlson, 1995). Some of these guidelines and codes are
        supported by wildlife protection legislation which includes penalties for ‘harassing’ or
        ‘disturbing’ whales and other marine mammals. Although the definitions of
        ‘harassment’ and ‘disturbance’ may be similar in different countries (Appendix 1),
Dolphin Space Programme                                                          Arnold 1997
        their lack of precision can create difficulties in successfully prosecuting cases against
        offenders who repeatedly ignore the recommendations.

        In addition to voluntary Codes of Conduct, there are statutory national and/or state
        regulations for whale watching in at least 9 countries, five of whom have permit or
        licensing systems for commercial boat operators and those who wish to use vessels or
        aircraft in the vicinity of cetaceans for research, photography, film-making,
        educational or other purposes (see Table 1).

                                                   Table 1

                          Summary of Whale Watching Regulations World-wide

                   Country                           Regulations                      Penalty for Breach
           Argentina                In preparation                                              Not Known
           Australia                Commonwealth Regulations                                  $100,000 max
              Queensland            State Regulations, Hervey Bay                               $6,000 max
              New South Wales       State Regulations                                              $100,000
              Victoria              State Regulations                                           $4,000 max
              Southern Australia    State Regulations + Permit System                                 None
              Western Australia     State Regulations + Whale watching licences                     $10,000
              Abrolhos              Regulations
              Anhatomirim           Regulations                                                    Not Known
              Robson Bight          No commercial whale watching + Educational
                                    and Scientific licences                                        Not Known
             St Laurence            Belugas excluded from whale watching                           Not Known
           Dominican Republic       Silver Bank Whale Sanctuary: permits required
                                    for all vessels                                                Not Known
           Mexico                   Regulations + Whale watching licences                          Not Known
           New Zealand              Regulations + Permit System + special
                                    conditions for dolphin and seal watching                      Not Known
           South Africa             Regulations: no approach within 300 m + Permit    R 6,000 or max 2 years
                                    System                                              imprisonment or both
           USA                      Federal: Marine Mammal Protection Act - no        up to $25,000 civil and
                                    approach within 100 yards + Permit System        $50,000 criminal + up to
                                                                                       one year imprisonment
                                                                                      and/or seizure of vessel
                                                                                           and other property

               NE Region            No intentional approach                                                 "
               - Gulf of Maine
               Massachusetts        No approach to right whales within 500 m +                              "
                                    State Scientific Permits

        A system of permits for whale watching boats is also being developed in Tenerife, in
        the Canary Islands, where almost half of approximately 150 whale watching boats
        have obtained permits to operate their trips (S. Heimlich-Boran, pers. comm).
        Examples of some U.S. whalewatching guidelines are shown in Appendix 2.

3.2     Recommendations for Whale Watching Guidelines and Regulations
Dolphin Space Programme                                                              Arnold 1997
        During the consistent and often dramatic rise in whale watching activities, there has
        been increasing concern about the potential detrimental effects that the behaviour and
        numbers of vessels (and in some locations, aircraft) may have on whale populations.
        Following a Resolution on whale watching in 1994 by the International Whaling
        Commission (IWC), of which the UK is a member, questionnaires were distributed to
        governments world-wide in order to assess the current state of the whale watching
        industry. A summary of the preliminary assessment of responses from 12
        participating countries included the following consensus view on the need for
        statutory regulation of whale watching enterprises:

        “The very fact of (its) rapid growth has led a number of governments to record their
        concerns over possible impacts on the behaviour, migrations and breeding biology of
        the various species involved. The number of whalewatching vessels and their
        deployment around the whales is seen as a potential cause of disturbance to normal
        activity by the animals, as well as inflicting actual physical harm by collisions and
        cuts from propellers.

        As a result of the perceived or actual disturbance or harm which might result from
        whalewatching activities, there is a general view reflected in the questionnaires on the
        need for regulations to provide adequate safeguards for the whales....the more
        experienced (countries) indicate that voluntary guidelines or Codes of Conduct may
        not be strong enough controls.

        The general view on the rules needed include the following:

           minimum approach (distance) by vessels
           number of vessels around one individual or group of whales
           avoid harassing or chasing whales
           avoid sudden changes in vessel speed
           do not circle whales in a vessel
           minimum flying height by aircraft

        These regulations can be enforced by only licensing approved operators, and
        employing crews with an appropriate grounding in boat handling which will avoid
        any detrimental impact on the whales.” (IWC, 1995)

        The report also recommended that the Scientific Committee of the IWC should assess
        “the adverse effects of whalewatching, the potential for various whalewatching craft to
        harass whales and modify behaviour in the long term, and to provide a reliable
        definition of ‘harassment’ ... and determine the behavioural clues which support this
        definition”. The Scientific Committee has further been asked to provide
        recommendations for the regulation of whalewatching, the possibility of licensing
        operators and preventing commercial abuses which would compromise the activity
        itself (IWC, 1995)

Dolphin Space Programme                                                        Arnold 1997
        Following this IWC recommendation, a workshop was held in March 1995 to discuss
        the scientific basis and recommendations for the management of whale watching. The
        meeting was attended by scientists from 12 countries, all of whom are involved in
        marine mammal research in areas where whalewatching is an established or newly
        growing local enterprise. The report on this workshop acknowledged that, although a
        number of studies indicate some of the short term reactions or impacts of whale
        watching on cetaceans, there is minimal evidence to show a causal relationship
        between the short and possible long term impacts of whale watching boats. It was
        agreed by the working group that more research is required to provide scientists and
        managers with a better understanding of the potential short and long term ecological
        effects of this industry. However, the general consensus of the participants was that,
        although evidence of the impacts of whale watching on cetacean populations is
        difficult to obtain, “... a precautionary approach was strongly recommended” (IFAW
        et al, 1995).

        The report also stressed that the development and implementation of initial or interim
        rules should consider all available pertinent information, including studies from other
        animals as well as local experience and conditions. Once such rules are in force, they
        should remain flexible and be subject to an on-going process of review and
        modification based on scientific advice. The recommendations for initial ‘common
        sense’ whale watching guidelines included the following:

         “minimise speed and avoid sudden changes in speed, direction or noise

         minimise noise from all sources

         do not pursue, encircle or separate whales

         determine appropriate angle of approach

         consider the cumulative impacts on whales of platform (boats or aircraft) numbers
          and length of exposure

         allow the whales to control the nature and duration of the interaction.

        The above recommendations are intended as “rules of engagement” for individual
        vessels and groups of vessels. They should continue in force until results of
        experimental or observational studies indicate a need for change.” (IFAW, et al,

        The Marine Mammal Protection Regulations 1978 (MMPR) in New Zealand include a
        system for licensing whale watching activities, and provide a good example of a way
        in which the development of statutory regulations can be an evolving process
        (Appendix 3). Periodic revision of the legislation has involved extensive consultation
        and the co-operation of not only statutory bodies but the boat operators, local
        authorities and residents as well. The New Zealand MMPR were revised in 1992 to

Dolphin Space Programme                                                        Arnold 1997
        include specific guidelines for interactions with dolphins and retain provisions for
        continual review and revision of the regulations.

3.3     Cetacean Protection Legislation and Agreements in the United Kingdom

3.3.1 Legislation

        The bottlenose dolphin is listed on Appendix II, Annexe II of the Berne Convention
        and Annexes II and IV of the EC Habitats Directive. It is also on Appendix II of the
        Bonn Convention and is covered by the terms of the Agreement on the Conservation
        of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic and North Seas (ASCOBANS), a regional agreement
        under the Bonn Convention. All cetaceans are protected under Schedule 5 of the
        Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, as amended. For details of specific UK legislation
        including provisions for the protection of bottlenose dolphins and other cetaceans in
        the Moray Firth, see Appendix 4.

3.3.2 National and European Agreements

        The Berne Convention: The ‘Berne’ Council of Europe Convention on the
        conservation of European wildlife and natural habitats covers the protection of
        mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, freshwater fish, invertebrates and plants. The
        requirements of the Berne Convention are mandatory on its contracting parties.
        Britain is a party to this convention and ratified its provisions on 28 May 1982.

        Article 4(1) requires each party to take appropriate and necessary legislative and
        administrative measures to ensure the conservation of the habitats of the wild flora
        and fauna species especially those specified. Under Article 4(3) special attention is to
        be given to the protection of areas of importance for migratory species. No sites have
        been identified for protection specifically under the terms of the Berne Convention.
        The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 is the main legislative provision by which the
        UK seeks to fulfil its obligations under the Berne Convention.

        The Bonn Convention: The Bonn Convention on the conservation of migratory
        species of wild animals was signed by Britain in 1979 and ratified on 23 July 1985.
        The Convention covers all species of migratory animals including invertebrates,
        fishes, reptiles, mammals and birds and provides a framework for ‘Agreements’
        between Range Estates. The 1991 Agreement on the Conservation of Small
        Cetaceans in the Baltic and North Sea (ASCOBANS), and the Wildlife and
        Countryside Act provide protective measures consistent with the Bonn Convention.

        ASCOBANS: Under ASCOBANS, the UK Government is obliged, in particular to
        “work towards ... (c) the effective regulation, to reduce the impact on (small
        cetaceans), of activities which seriously affect their food resources and (d) the
        prevention of other significant disturbance, especially of an acoustic nature.”
        However, this obligation does not constitute a law, and to date none of the UK
        legislation or agreements to international conventions have been invoked for the

Dolphin Space Programme                                                         Arnold 1997
        protection of cetaceans from the potential impacts of disturbance from recreational or
        commercial whale watching vessels.

        Convention on Biological Diversity: The 1992 Rio Convention on Biological
        Diversity expressed concern “that biological diversity is being significantly reduced by
        certain activities” and noted that “where there is a threat of significant reduction or
        loss of biological diversity, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a
        reason for postponing measures to avoid or minimise such a threat”. As a result, the
        UK Government agreed to develop or adapt any existing national strategy, plan or
        programme for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity
        (Biodiversity Convention, 1992). The 1994 UK Biodiversity Action Plan (paragraph
        6.63) states that “Where there is so much uncertainty, there is consensus that
        everything possible should be done to conserve species and their population up to the
        point where the cost would become unacceptable to human society. The
        precautionary principle should prevail.”

        UK Species Action Plan: Under the terms of the UK Species Action Plan,
        Government policy is to encourage voluntary co-operation in managing sites to
        achieve favourable conservation status for key species, such as the bottlenose dolphin.
        The Action Plan also includes a recommendation that the lead national conservation
        agencies should introduce codes of practice to reduce disturbance from whale
        watching (HMSO, 1994).

        The British Government has also repeatedly expressed its commitment to applying the
        precautionary principle in situations where there is an absence of complete proof of an
        activity resulting in harmful effects on living resources. For example, the Bergen
        Ministerial Declaration, 1990 states that: “In order to achieve sustainable
        development, policies must be based on the precautionary principle. Environmental
        measures must anticipate, prevent and attack causes of environmental degradation.
        Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific
        certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent
        environmental degradation.”

3.3.3 Whale Watching Guidelines in the UK

        To supplement current legislation and agreements which aim to protect cetacean
        populations in the UK, there are several voluntary Codes of Conduct which
        recommend guidelines for whale and dolphin watching. The most widely circulated is
        the Sea Watch Code (Appendix 5), which is distributed nationally by the Sea Watch
        Foundation based in Oxford. In Wales, there are further codes issued by both the
        Cardigan Bay Forum and Ceredigion District Council (see Appendix 6) for use in
        Cardigan Bay and other areas of the Welsh coast.

        In Scotland, there is a Dolphin Awareness Code produced by Scottish Natural
        Heritage for recreational boats and jet skis in the Moray Firth (Appendix 7). There is
        also the new Dolphin Space Programme code for commercial dolphin watching and
        marine wildlife cruise vessels in the Moray Firth, devised and implemented in 1995 by
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        the Scottish Wildlife Trust and Scottish Natural Heritage in partnership with the EU
        LIFE Programme (Appendix 8). A Code of Conduct is also currently being developed
        by the Minch Project, in co-operation with local operators of land and boat-based
        wildlife tour activities in the Minch area of Scotland. A number of other voluntary
        codes are promoted by several national and local whale and dolphin interest groups in
        Britain, and the British Marine Industries Federation distributes a ‘Navigate with
        Nature’ code for boaters (Appendix 9).

        Although the same or similar principles are found in most of these guidelines, some of
        the Codes of Conduct offer conflicting advice which can be counter-productive.
        Boaters and cruise boat passengers may become confused when trying to determine
        which recommendations are the ‘right ones’ to follow when encountering cetaceans.
        In order to eliminate some of this confusion and to initiate an official national standard
        for cetacean watching guidelines, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) is
        in the process of drafting national voluntary guidelines to be issued by the Department
        of Environment for both recreational vessels and commercial cetacean watching boats.
        National distribution of the guidelines is planned for the spring of 1997, with the
        understanding that special conditions may be added to the standard advice in order to
        support the development of management strategies for specific cetacean populations
        in particular coastal areas around the UK.


4.1     Recreational boats

        Jet skis have become popular recreational watercraft in Britain. In 1993, the Personal
        Watercraft Association (now part of the British Marine Industries Federation)
        proposed to hold their first national jet ski race in the Moray Firth. After consultations
        with Inverness District Council and other local authorities, the organisers agreed to
        abandon the race due to environmental concerns. However, the proposal did highlight
        the rising number of small private boats and other vessels using the waters of the Firth
        for recreational purposes. The Round Britain Power Boat Race has also been held in
        1992, 1994 and 1996, with boats starting from Inverness and the Caledonian Canal
        and finishing on a final leg through the Moray Firth to end at the Kessock Bridge near

4.1.1 Dolphin Awareness Initiative

        In the early 1990s, it became apparent that recreational watercraft could create
        problems affecting the enjoyment of other water users, and also as a potential source
        of disturbance to the resident dolphins and other cetaceans in the Moray Firth. With
        this in mind, and with the co-operation and support of the Personal Watercraft
        Association and the Royal Yachting Association for Scotland, Scottish Natural
        Heritage launched its Dolphin Awareness Initiative (DAI) in August of 1993. The
Dolphin Space Programme                                                         Arnold 1997
        aims of the Initiative were to increase public awareness of the potential impact of
        boating activities on the bottlenose dolphins and harbour porpoises in the Moray Firth,
        and to provide information on the characteristics of these species. The Initiative also
        introduced the Dolphin Awareness Code of Conduct for recreational boaters and jet
        skiers when they encounter cetaceans (Appendix 7).

        Following the launch, car stickers and leaflets were distributed, featuring information
        about dolphins and porpoises as well as the Code of Conduct, and highlighting land-
        based dolphin watching ‘hotspots’. The accompanying posters explained the
        development and rationale for the Initiative. Permanent boards describing the key
        elements of the recreational boating code were also situated at 9 harbour and slipway
        locations around the Firth. It was also agreed with the local jet ski club that, in order
        to avoid unnecessary disturbance in the Kessock Channel area, club members should
        only launch at the Anchor & Chain slipway rather than from the old ferry slipway
        nearer to the Kessock Bridge. This had the effect of discouraging jet ski activity in the
        area of the Kessock Channel most frequently used by bottlenose dolphins.

        A report assessing the impact and effectiveness of the Dolphin Awareness campaign
        reported the consensus view of industry bodies that the popularity of motorised
        watersports will increase in future. Although the campaign was relatively successful
        in raising awareness of dolphins and porpoises in the Moray Firth, it would appear that
        most people were not aware of its purpose in promoting a Code of Conduct. Of the
        members of the public surveyed, 27% had heard of the DAI and 8% had heard of its
        Code of Conduct. The report recommended that in future, DAI resources should be
        directed more towards powerboat and jet ski users rather than the general public.
        Signboards displaying the code were found to be the most effective media for
        promoting the DAI message, and it was therefore suggested that future DAI activity
        should include: coastal positioning of more signboards (particularly in Banff,
        MacDuff and Findhorn) and further pamphlet production and distribution to the target
        magazines and vessel users. It was recommended that SNH should consider
        implementation of the DAI on a Scotland-wide scale. The report also mentioned that
        boat trips to see the dolphins can also pose an additional potential threat of
        disturbance to cetaceans for similar reasons as powerboats and personal watercraft.

4.2     Dolphin watching boats

        As local and national awareness of the Moray Firth dolphins increased, it became
        apparent to local conservation bodies and researchers that demand for boat trips to see
        the dolphins was likely to grow dramatically in the coming years. There was concern
        that, if unregulated, dolphin watching boats could increase in numbers to a stage
        where they might create serious disturbance to the resident dolphins and other
        cetacean populations. It was recognised that sustainable development of local dolphin
        tourism enterprises could best be achieved through continuing co-operation of
        research, conservation and commercial interests.

4.2.1 Future Firths Conference
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        The need for regulation of commercial dolphin cruise activities was first raised
        publicly at the Future Firths Conference held in Inverness in October, 1992. At this
        conference, Dr. Paul Thompson of the University of Aberdeen’s research station in
        Cromarty highlighted the problems inherent in the likely increase in dolphin watching
        trips in popular areas. He stressed that without suitable guidelines and controls for
        such enterprises, there is the potential to disturb and possibly lose the very resource on
        which these new developments depend (Thompson, 1993).

4.2.2 Workshop on 10 June 1994

        To further the process of local consultation, Scottish Natural Heritage held a
        workshop in early June, 1994 on the development and management of the dolphin
        watching industry in the Moray Firth. This new enterprise had expanded during the
        previous 2 years, and at the time of the workshop there were some 10 operators
        running commercial dolphin watching trips on an ad hoc or part-time basis. For the
        majority of operators, who offered mainly angling trips, the dolphin watching cruises
        were not a primary source of income. Only one of the operators ran scheduled tours
        on a regular basis throughout the year depending on demand. A further 3 boat owners
        made occasional trips for friends or visitors on a non-commercial basis. At that time,
        commercial and non-commercial dolphin watching trips were run from Helmsdale,
        Portmahomack, Balintore, Cromarty, Avoch, Nairn, Findochty and Buckie. All of
        these boat operators were invited to the June workshop, together with representatives
        of local tourist boards, enterprise companies, local authorities, the coastguard and
        other interests.

        The potential effects on cetaceans of disturbance from boats were raised, and both
        Chanonry Narrows and the Kessock Channel in the Inner Moray Firth were
        highlighted by Dr. Thompson as areas where the dolphins are especially vulnerable to
        boat traffic. The Kessock Channel in particular was identified as the most sensitive
        section of the Moray Firth, and thus the area most likely to be subject to tighter
        controls. There were two main reasons for suggesting this possibility. Firstly, it is an
        area in which the dolphins may be particularly susceptible to disturbance, where an
        extremely stressed animals is seen most frequently. Secondly, boat watching may
        interfere with other areas of dolphin-based tourism and environmental education, in
        particular the marine mammal information and acoustic centre planned for North
        Kessock in 1995.

        The development of a Code of Conduct and an Accreditation Scheme for boat
        operators was also discussed. Guidelines drawn up for minke whale watching off the
        west of Scotland were discussed as the initial basis for drafting a code specifically for
        commercial cruise boat operators in the Moray Firth (Appendix 10). It was agreed at
        the meeting that the researchers from the University of Aberdeen field station in
        Cromarty should prepare a report on their recommendations for the management of
        dolphin watching in the Moray Firth and this was subsequently commissioned by SNH
        in late 1994 (Appendix 11). The co-operation and interest shown by those attending
Dolphin Space Programme                                                          Arnold 1997
        and responding to the workshop was very encouraging, and minutes were sent out to
        all participants and other individuals who had expressed an interest in the subject.

4.2.3 Inverness Boat Operators

        Following the workshop, one of the Nairn boat operators relocated its business to
        Inverness Harbour in mid-June, 1994. The company operated some 4-8 trips a day
        within the Kessock Channel area until the season ended in September.

        In August of 1994, a second dolphin trip boat company was formed based at Inverness
        Harbour. In consultation with Inverness & Nairn Enterprise (INE), SNH drafted an
        Interim Code of Conduct which the company agreed to adhere to. The temporary
        guidelines were clearly defined as such, to be superseded in 1995 by a new code of
        conduct and accreditation scheme based upon guidance from University of Aberdeen


5.1     Project Structure

        In February, 1995 a full-time Project Officer was appointed for the 6 month duration
        of the initial Accreditation Scheme Project from 1 February to 31 July, 1995. The
        primary aim of the project was to develop and implement a practical and easily
        monitored Code of Conduct and Accreditation Scheme for dolphin watching boats,
        based closely on the recommendations made by the University of Aberdeen. The
        project represented the first attempt in the UK to introduce a quality assurance scheme
        for cetacean watching boats. This innovative programme was initiated by a
        partnership between Scottish Wildlife Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage and the EU
        LIFE Programme, with funding provided by SNH and the LIFE Programme.

        Representatives from each member of the partnership formed a steering group to
        direct and manage the project. The steering group met with the Project Officer (PO)
        approximately every month, when written and verbal reports of progress to date were
        presented by the PO, together with matters requiring comments or decisions from the
        management group. The PO also reported in detail several times a week to the SNH
        NW Region Aquatic Advisory Officer who was also a member of the steering group.
        As well as contributing funding for the project, SNH also provided office space and
        support facilities for the PO. By July, 1995, the Accreditation Scheme was
        established and it was apparent that much still remained to be accomplished. The
        project was therefore extended for a further 3 months, with the PO employed for 3
        days a week during this extension. At this time, the Tourism and Environment Task
        Force joined the steering group.

5.2     Project Objectives

        The project objectives, based mainly on recommendations from the University of
        Aberdeen report to SNH (Curran et al, 1995), were:
Dolphin Space Programme                                                       Arnold 1997
         to develop and implement a voluntary Accreditation Scheme for regulation of boat-
          based cetacean watching in the Moray Firth. The scheme aims to reduce potential
          impacts of dolphin watching boats on the status, distribution or behaviour of the
          resident bottlenose dolphin population;

         to develop the Accreditation Scheme in such a way that it ensures sustainability of
          the growing cetacean watching industry in the Moray Firth;

         to incorporate measures within the Accreditation Scheme to ensure that passengers
          are offered a quality experience which is both enjoyable and educational, regardless
          of whether or not cetaceans are encountered. The scheme should also reduce
          potential conflict with other water users or shore-based dolphin watching;

         to develop a means of monitoring and assessing the Accreditation Scheme;

         to develop or recommend means for continuation of the scheme;

         produce the basis for a set of publicity, education and interpretive materials to
          highlight the wider marine environment;

         produce a final report to include recommendations for the future of the
          Accreditation Scheme and management of boat-based dolphin watching.

        If time allowed, it was also hoped to organise training workshops for boat operators as
        well as a seminar on marine wildlife tourism.

        In order to continue the Accreditation Scheme, a part-time Project Officer was
        appointed from February to October, 1996. In light of the previous year’s experience,
        the further aims of the project were:

         to increase co-operation with the scheme by emphasising the educational aspects of
          the project and to encourage trips of high quality and low environmental impact by
          providing training and interpretive materials for accredited operators about the
          wider marine environment;

         to build on links with associated projects in order to encourage the extension of the
          scheme into other areas of the Highlands;

         to highlight shore-based dolphin watching and address recreational boating by
          publicising the Dolphin Awareness code and erecting more boating code boards at
          launch points around the Moray Firth

5.3     Recreational Boat Traffic

        Initial discussions with commercial dolphin cruise operators and others interested in
        the new scheme highlighted general concern about the increase in recreational boat
Dolphin Space Programme                                                         Arnold 1997
        traffic and the apparent lack of regulation of the speed and behaviour of recreational
        craft in the vicinity of cetaceans. It was therefore agreed that within this project a
        general code of practice should be developed for all mariners. However, as national
        guidelines with a similar aim were being drafted by the Joint Nature Conservation
        Committee, it was agreed that no new code for recreational vessels would be issued by
        the Accreditation Scheme, but the Dolphin Awareness recreational boating code
        would be promoted together with the new code for commercial boat operations.
        Analysis of research conducted from July to September 1994 confirmed that
        recreational boats formed a large proportion of local traffic, and accounted for 24% of
        all the boating activity recorded in the Kessock Channel during the study period
        (Lutkebohle, 1995).

        Information about the Accreditation Scheme guidelines and the Dolphin Awareness
        code for recreational boats was also sent to the organisers of the Round Britain Power
        Boat Challenge. Following discussions in 1995 and 1996 about the possibilities of
        collision or disturbance to cetaceans in the Inner Moray Firth from boats racing
        toward the usual Kessock Bridge finish line, it was agreed to end the race at Nairn.
        Race participants were asked to progress at reduced speed from the finish line to the
        Kessock area. Although a number of contestants did reduce their speed below racing
        levels, most continued through the Inner Firth at a fast planing speed. However, the
        willing co-operation of the organisers has set an excellent precedent of co-operation
        from organisers of local events. Another sign outlining the Dolphin Awareness code
        is now displayed at Cullen Harbour, and arrangements are being made for the erection
        of further signs at other launching points in the Firth.

5.4     Project Development and Implementation: Objectives Achieved

5.4.1 Code of Conduct and Accreditation Scheme

        In 1995, 7 commercial operators offered wildlife and dolphin watching cruises in the
        Moray Firth on a part or full-time commercial basis (Table 2). Six of the firms were
        based in the Moray Firth, while the seventh ran only one trip in the area as a pilot
        exercise to assess the demand for a third boat offering cruises from Inverness. Two
        other commercial operators also planned to offer dolphin watching trips during the
        summer of 1995 (one from Nigg and the other from Balintore), but in the event neither
        of these boats conducted dolphin or wildlife cruises.

                                           Table 2
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                           Moray Firth Wildlife Cruise Operators 1995

    Location                 Operator          No of                 Type of Trip
Portmahomack/         J Mackenzie                1       Primarily angling trips March-October
Balintore                                                on hourly/day charter:
                                                         10 passengers max.
Cromarty              Dolphin Ecosse                3    1-2 trips daily year round (up to 3
                                                         trips/day in high season). Mainly one
                                                         trip boat in operation:
                                                         12 passengers max.
Cromarty              Seaboard Marine (Nigg)        1    Nigg ferry service: one evening trip
                      Ltd                                daily June- September:
                                                         50 passengers max.
Nairn                 Set Fair Charters             1    Trips only during high tide period:
                                                         10 passengers max.
Inverness             MacAulay Charters             1    4-6+ daily trips April-October:
                                                         40 passengers max.
Inverness             Moray Firth Cruises           1    4-6 daily trips April-October;
                                                         90 passengers max.

        Nine part and full-time commercial dolphin and wildlife cruise firms conducted trips
        in the Moray Firth in 1996 (Table 3). Vessel capacity and work varied, ranging from
        angling boats and wildlife cruise vessels carrying up to 12 passengers, to larger tour
        boats carrying from 40-90 passengers.

                                               Table 3

                           Moray Firth Wildlife Cruise Operators 1996

       Location                Operator         No of                 Type of Trip
Portmahomack              J Mackenzie                   1 Primarily angling trips March-
                                                          October on hourly/day charter:
                                                          10 passengers max.
Nigg                      Seaboard Marine               1 Daily trips to fish farm - taking
                          Services Ltd                    passengers during summer season:
                                                          12 passengers max.

Dolphin Space Programme                                                       Arnold 1997
Cromarty                  Dolphin Ecosse                 3 1-2 trips daily year-round (up to
                                                           3 trips/day in high season). Mainly
                                                           one trip boat in operation:
                                                           12 passengers max.
Cromarty                  Seaboard Marine                1 Nigg ferry service: one evening
                          (Nigg) Ltd                       wildlife trip daily June-September:
                                                           50 passengers max.
Inverness                 MacAulay Charters              1 4-6 daily trips April-October:
                                                           40 passengers max.
Inverness                 Moray Firth Cruises            1 4-6+ daily trips April-October:
                                                           90 passengers max.
Nairn                     Set Fair Charters              1 Trips only during high tide period
                                                           10 passengers max.
Buckie                    Karl Nielsen                   1 Angling and wildlife cruises June-
                                                           12 passengers max.
Findochty                 Findochty Wildlife             1 1-2 wildlife trips per day June-
                          Cruises                          September:
                                                           10 passengers max.

         Within the first few weeks of the project starting in February 1995, it became clear
         that, rather than holding another consultative workshop with boat operators and
         interested parties, it would be more productive to continue discussing specific aspects
         of the proposed code and Accreditation Scheme on a one-to-one basis. The general
         aims of the scheme, the main points and reasons for the guidelines, and space for the
         display of leaflets and posters were also discussed with the various area tourist boards.

         Initial discussions with interested operators were followed by further consultations
         later in February when the main points of the code had been agreed by the project
         steering group. The specific guidelines were then discussed with operators, together
         with their practical application in each area of operation. The rationale for developing
         the Accreditation Scheme and Code of Conduct was also discussed in detail, together
         with the potential benefits of the scheme to accredited operators. Briefing sheets,
         details of criteria for accreditation and an explanatory version of the code were
         distributed to help explain the main elements of the Code of Conduct (Appendix 8). It
         was stressed throughout the conversations between the PO and boat operators that co-
         operation with the guidelines recommended in the new Code of Conduct was on a
         voluntary basis.

         The Dolphin Space Programme Code of Conduct is as follows:

          Maintain forward progress at a slow, steady speed throughout a trip.

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         Follow an agreed route within the area of operation without stops or deviations
          except for safety reasons.

         Always slow down gradually to no-wake speed if cetaceans appear directly ahead.
          Once clear of the animals, slowly resume cruising speed. If cetaceans approach the
          boat or bowride, maintain a slow cruising speed.

         Limit the duration, route and number of trips in certain areas sensitive to marine
          traffic, such as the Kessock Channel and Chanonry Narrows.

         Dispose of fuel, oil, litter or other contaminants in the appropriate containers

         For your safety and theirs, do not allow passengers or crew to swim with, touch or
          feed dolphins or other marine mammals.

        The main elements of the Code of Conduct were designed to be easily understood and
        put into practice. Most of the current Codes of Conduct are designed for whale
        watching and recommend minimum distances between boats and cetaceans, or suggest
        angles of approach and maximum numbers of boats in the vicinity of whales.
        However, dolphin groups behave differently from large whales and it is often difficult
        to track them and interpret their behaviour. It is also difficult to judge distances over
        water, and suggesting angles of approach or boat numbers round a group may
        inadvertently encourage boats to approach cetaceans.

        Therefore, it was suggested in the new code that boat operators agree with the PO one
        or more cruise routes to be followed during each trip. Cruising along a predictable
        route at a slow speed eliminates the need for skippers to guess or measure distances,
        reduces direct approaches to cetaceans, and allows the animals themselves to
        determine the type of interaction with a nearby boat. Cetaceans are therefore allowed
        to ‘choose’ to approach boats rather than the other way round. When following
        planned routes, operators should also find it easier to plan their commentary and the
        type of information given to passengers. An agreed course also makes it easier to
        monitor whether or not vessels are following an expected route, thus simplifying
        policing of a code and eliminating the need for an observer to assess distances and
        intentions of boat activity. Breaches of the code, such as starting and stopping along a
        route, veering off the normal path to follow or chase cetaceans, excessive approach
        speed to dolphins in the path of the boat, and unlimited daily trips in named sensitive
        areas could all be easily observed.

        It was recommended by University of Aberdeen researchers (Curran, et al 1995), that
        dolphin watching boat trips in the sensitive areas of Kessock Channel and Chanonry
        Narrows (Appendix 8) be limited to a maximum of 4 trips per day, shared between
        operators if there were more than one. This was a precautionary limit based on current
        knowledge of bottlenose dolphin distribution in the Moray Firth and traffic volume in
        these geographically restricted areas. As there were 2 operators running cruises within
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        the Kessock Channel from Inverness Harbour, the code recommended a limit for each
        boat of two trips within this area per day. Operators in this area were encouraged to
        conduct all other daily trips into the wider Inverness Firth, using the sensitive area for
        access to the harbour only on these occasions. Restrictions on the number of trips per
        day were not considered to be required in other non-sensitive locations.

        The majority of operators felt that the elements of the code represented good common
        sense and would involve little change from the practices they already followed. No
        comments were received from the operators on the proposed format of the scheme and
        conditions of accreditation. Two or three alternative cruise routes were planned with
        operators who agreed to follow the new Code of Conduct and wished to join the
        scheme. Following further discussion to ensure that all operators understood the
        system and criteria for accreditation, the PO accompanied a boat trip with each
        operator seeking accreditation in order to assess and discuss boat handling techniques
        and trip routes.

        In 1995, the Friends of the Moray Firth Dolphins, a dolphin interest group based in
        Findochty, also offered dolphin watching trips to their members and visitors. A
        meeting was held with their representatives in order to explain the aims of the scheme.
        The advantages of maintaining agreed routes were discussed but, as they did not
        operate commercially, the Friends felt that the Accreditation Scheme and code would
        not apply to them. However, they remained in co-operative contact with the PO
        throughout the 1995 season. 1995
        Accredited Operators

        All but two of the operators consulted in 1995 agreed to follow the Code of Conduct
        and wished to join the Accreditation Scheme. Four of the commercial boat trip
        operators were subsequently sent an offer of accreditation for their signature and
        return. Accredited operators were also asked to record the details of their wildlife
        trips on log sheets supplied to them (Appendix 12). The completed trip log forms
        were intended to provide the project with information about the demand for and
        frequency of dolphin watching boat trips in the operating areas, thus giving an
        indication of the socio-economic impact of this new industry, and the potential level
        of pressure on the dolphins and other cetaceans from trip boats.

        Once accredited, operators received a box file containing a variety of reference
        materials which were supplemented at times during the season, together with
        laminated posters for display on their boats, a flag printed with a dolphin logo and
        ‘Accredited ‘95’, as well as supplies of DSP and other relevant leaflets for
        distribution. Each DSP leaflet contained an insert listing contact details for accredited
        operators. Laminated accreditation certificates, giving details of the Code of Conduct
        and confirming accreditation in 1995, were also provided for prominent display
        aboard each accredited vessel.

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        Non-accredited Operators

        During initial discussions with the 2 firms operating out of Inverness Harbour, both
        expressed the view that, for economic reasons, they could not accept any limitation to
        the number of daily boat trips they offered within the Kessock Channel. However,
        both operators felt they would be able to follow the other guidelines recommended in
        the new code of conduct. At subsequent meetings, it was suggested that as well as
        running a maximum of 2 trips each per day within the sensitive Kessock Channel area,
        the operators should plan additional trips into the wider Inverness Firth where
        passengers could see a variety of attractive landscapes as well as dolphins and other
        wildlife. Educational and interpretive material would be provided to make these
        broader trips interesting and enjoyable. However, both operators felt that the
        economic viability of their operations would suffer if a greater proportion of their trips
        were carried out in the Inverness Firth.

        In order to resolve this impasse, the Inverness, Loch Ness & Nairn Tourist Board and
        Inverness and Nairn Enterprise (INE), as well as the Inverness Harbour Master were
        involved in further discussions with Inverness boat operators in March, 1995. The
        issue of limiting boat trips in the sensitive area of the Kessock Channel was discussed
        in detail. Unfortunately, despite this and further meetings and correspondence, the
        situation remained unresolved and the Inverness boat operators were not accredited in
        1995. 1996
        Accreditation Scheme

        The Accreditation Scheme was continued in 1996 with the appointment of a part-time
        Project Officer working 3 days a week from February to October, supervised by a
        steering group composed of representatives from SNH, SWT, the EU LIFE
        Programme and the Tourism and Environment Task Force. It was agreed by the
        steering group in February that it was important to try to encourage all commercial
        boat operators in the Firth to join the scheme in 1996. Negotiations, based on various
        compromises to the 1995 position,were conducted with Inverness, Loch Ness & Nairn
        Tourist Board (now part of Highlands of Scotland Tourist Board or HOST), Inverness
        & Nairn Enterprise and the Inverness Harbour Master. It was felt that if support could
        be obtained for the scheme from these agencies, then the PO would be in a position to
        approach Inverness boat operators about the possibility of accreditation in 1996.

         Negotiations regarding operations in the Kessock Channel area continued into July of
        1996 when the scheme obtained the support of HOST, based on a change in the
        proposed trip limitations in the sensitive area. It was agreed with the 2 Inverness boat
        operators that they would be eligible for accreditation if they agreed to follow the

        Code of Conduct, including an upper limit of 6 daily trips (3 trips per day each) within
        the sensitive Kessock Channel, with all subsequent trips to be made in the Inverness
        Firth and the Kessock area used only for access to the harbour. By raising the limit in
Dolphin Space Programme                                                          Arnold 1997
        the Kessock Channel to 6 trips per day (shared between operators) and obtaining the
        co-operation of the Inverness operators, the volume of dolphin trip traffic within this
        sensitive area was potentially halved, based on each company running up to six or
        more trips per day during peak season.

        Once the criteria for accreditation were agreed (Appendix 13), they were sent out to
        all commercial boat trip operators in the Moray Firth together with information about
        becoming members of the scheme in 1996. Those operators who agreed to follow the
        Code of Conduct and abide by the criteria were sent a letter of offer and in early
        August all nine of the commercial operators became accredited. Accredited operators
        were provided with a box of reference material together with a variety of laminated
        posters for display on their boats (Appendix 14), including 2 laminated copies of the
        accreditation certificate (Appendix 15) in different sizes to encourage display on board
        each vessel. The reference material included information to enable operators to
        contribute to national biological recording schemes.

5.4.2 Interpretive Material

        Both interpretive and design consultants were involved in formulating the media to
        highlight the new Accreditation Scheme and Code of Conduct for dolphin watching
        boats. The Accreditation Scheme was promoted as the ‘Dolphin Space Programme’
        (DSP), stressing that dolphins should be given space, and the key phrase was ‘watch
        how you watch’ . Leaflets and posters were produced for distribution and briefing
        sheets were compiled to accompany these to explain the project more thoroughly.
        One thousand posters each were produced in A3 and A4 sizes (Appendix 16a, 16b).
        An initial printing of 10,000 leaflets was followed by a further run of 20,000 copies;
        each leaflet originally contained an insert listing the contact details for accredited
        operators in 1995. At the end of October 1995, some 8500 leaflets remained to be
        distributed in the following year, together with approximately 600 A3 and 800 A4
        posters. Articles about the project were also written for SNH, SWT and other
        publications as well as press releases and supplementary information.

         In 1996, 10,000 double-sided inserts were produced listing the 9 accredited operators
        on one side and displaying the Code of Conduct on the other (Appendix 16c). Articles
        were again written about the project for SWT, SNH and other media. Brief
        summaries of the project have been provided for inclusion in Scottish Tourist Board
        and HOST publications in 1997.

        The project posed a difficult interpretive problem as we wished to highlight the Code
        of Conduct and new Accreditation Scheme without promoting non-accredited boat
        operators. It was hoped that the project promotion would lead with a self-explanatory
        but humorous approach, similar to the ‘Don’t Hassle the Humpbacks’ slogan which
        has been used successfully in an American whale watching education programme.
        The Accreditation Scheme leaflets and posters carried a dolphin logo and a number of
        dolphin photographs which were eye-catching. Although these highlighted dolphin
        presence in the Firth, the phrase ‘Dolphin Space Programme’ required explanation.
Dolphin Space Programme                                                        Arnold 1997
        The slogan ‘Watch How you Watch’ more accurately reflects the project message and
        does not require the same degree of explanation.

5.4.3 DSP Media Distribution and Publicity

        The main sources for distribution of leaflets and posters were SNH, SWT, Whale &
        Dolphin Conservation Society, Sea Watch, Earthkind, Friends of the Moray Firth
        Dolphins, the Visitor Information Centre at South Kessock, the Dolphin and Seal
        Centre at North Kessock, the North Kessock Tourist Information Centre and other
        TICs, as well as the accredited boat operators.

        Media coverage of the aims of the DSP was positive and supportive following the
        launch of the scheme in June 1995. However, after further meetings with Inverness
        boat operators and supporting agencies in late June, the 2 Inverness operators took
        their grievances to the local press. This resulted in a great deal of media coverage
        which portrayed the scheme as harmful to local small businesses.

        Letters were written on behalf of the DSP to the Inverness boat operators and other
        interested parties following another meeting with their representatives in June 1995,
        seeking to resolve the problem, and further explaining the rationale for the
        implementation of the Accreditation Scheme. The media interest in the scheme
        continued until the end of the first year of the project in October, 1995.

        Both Dr Kenny Taylor of SWT and the DSP PO participated in a ‘Dolphin Question
        Time’ panel organised by the Friends of the Moray Firth Dolphins, along with Dr. Ben
        Wilson of the University of Aberdeen and Dr. Horace Dobbs of International Dolphin
        Watch. During this evening, the recommendation in the DSP code which asks people
        not to swim with, touch or feed dolphins in the Moray Firth was hotly debated by
        those keen to swim with dolphins.

        Two information talks were given to the South Kessock (Merkinch) watch group
        when the DSP and its aims were described and discussed, as well as ways in which the
        local watch groups could contribute to the monitoring of boat traffic and boat/dolphin
        ‘incidents’ or interactions recording. A talk about the DSP was also given to the
        Inverness Sub Aqua Club at their request. In 1996, the PO participated in the
        Caledonian MacBrayne summer Ferry Festival by presenting 4 talks to ferry
        passengers about cetaceans in the Minch and general good practice in cetacean

        The PO liaised with the manager of the North Kessock Seal and Dolphin Visitor
        Centre in 1995 regarding arrangements for an ‘information share’ question and answer
        session for the residents of North Kessock about dolphins, seals and other marine
        animals. The aim was to inform local people about the recent studies of marine
        mammals in their area and to encourage residents to share their experiences with the
        researchers. It was hoped that such information exchange with North Kessock
        residents would increase a sense of involvement in the future of the dolphins and seals
Dolphin Space Programme                                                        Arnold 1997
        that are seen from their village. Unfortunately, this event never took place, but
        should be considered for 1997.

5.4.4 Project Launch

        The launch of the Accreditation Scheme as the Dolphin Space Programme occurred
        on 8 June 1995 (World Oceans Day), at the Royal Hotel, Cromarty. Some 65 people
        attended, including three of the four newly accredited operators. The launch was
        followed by a brief boat trip in the Cromarty Firth aboard the accredited Nigg-
        Cromarty Ferry ‘Cromarty Rose’, then a buffet lunch. The launch was well received,
        despite poor weather, and the resultant press and media coverage was both positive
        and encouraging.

        In August 1996, there was a press release announcing the accreditation of all Moray
        Firth boat operators but no launch event was held. The project remained low-key
        throughout the season and what publicity it did receive was positive.

5.4.5 Training

        It was agreed that the emphasis of the Accreditation Scheme in 1996 would be on
        training and education. The information packs provided to operators were therefore
        enhanced and training sessions were organised. Two short morning information
        sessions were scheduled in Inverness in April and May (Appendix 17a, 17b). The first
        was attended by three of the four accredited operators from 1995, and the second was
        cancelled due to lack of response. The 4 operators accredited in 1995 were also
        invited to attend an information workshop organised in March by the Minch Project
        (Appendix 18).

        As there seemed little interest in attending short training sessions during the spring, a
        full day workshop was organised for September, 1996 in Inverness (Appendix 17c).
        This was attended by representatives from five of the nine accredited operators and
        was generally well received, as evidenced by the results of a questionnaire distributed
        at the workshop (Appendix 19). A RSPB representative who participated in the
        workshop offered to accompany boat trips run by accredited operators in order to give
        specific information about birdlife in their area of operation. The Highland
        Archaeology Service has also offered to provide up-to-date archaeological news about
        specific areas of coast to operators who contact them for further information.

         In order to elicit the views of the other accredited operators about future training
        events, copies of the workshop questionnaire were sent to those who did not attend the
        September training; none of these were completed or returned. In general, operators
        appear to appreciate the opportunity to attend information and training sessions as
        long as these are scheduled at a convenient time and do not involve any cost.
        Operators expressed a preference for learning about specific aspects of their own area
        of operation, rather than about the Moray Firth and its marine environment in general.
Dolphin Space Programme                                                         Arnold 1997
        Well established whale watching ventures abroad address the issue of potential
        disturbance to cetaceans from boats, and information about the wildlife, geology and
        history of an area, as part of the cruise commentary. Passenger safety information is
        also included in introductory trip briefings. These aspects are also considered to be of
        relevance to the Moray Firth businesses, as outlined in the guidelines for introductory
        cruise briefings in Appendix 20.

        The PO is a member of a Rural Skills Wildlife Tourism Working Group which is
        exploring the development of a SCOTVEC qualification, or SVQ, for wildlife tour
        guides, including those involved in marine tourism. The DSP is therefore involved in
        the initial stages of developing a training structure for wildlife tour guides in Scotland.

5.4.6 Monitoring

        Monitoring Boat Operators

                 Feedback from Operators

        During the initial interview with each operator in 1995 and 1996, a background
        information form was completed which included details of each business and attitudes
        toward the Code of Conduct and Accreditation Scheme. All of the commercial
        operators appreciated the likely economic benefits of accreditation to their businesses.
        However, their main concern in 1995 (and this was raised again by some of the newly
        accredited operators in 1996) was the passenger boat licensing systems under the
        authority of the Marine Safety Agency (MSA) and the local authorities.

        In particular, each operator mentioned the lack of enforcement of the MSA code and
        safety equipment criteria for the issue of licences to carry passengers. Safety
        inspections by the MSA or their representatives are irregular and apparently may occur
        only once every two or three years. Most of the operators knew of unlicensed and
        unsafe local boats which take out passengers. Maintaining a boat to the required
        safety standards involves extra expense to maintain essential safety equipment. The
        operators who adhere to MSA standards feel that they are at a financial disadvantage
        compared to those who ignore the safety code but continue to operate regardless.
        Operators also indicated that some owners of unsafe boats apparently feel there is little
        chance of being penalised for ignoring the conditions under which their licences were
        issued. The PO passed these comments to the MSA, but also suggested to each
        operator that they take their concerns directly to the local authority or MSA, as the
        DSP has no authority over vessel safety. The perceived high levels of chemical and
        organic waste pollution in the Moray Firth were also a general cause for concern.

                 Log Sheets

        In 1995 and 1996, accredited operators were provided with log sheets on which to
        record daily trip and passenger numbers; completion of such logs was one of the
        criteria for accreditation. Completed log sheets were to be returned to the PO to help
Dolphin Space Programme                                                          Arnold 1997
        in monitoring the scale and potential social, economic and boat traffic impacts of
        wildlife cruises. None of the accredited operators in 1995 completed the daily trip
        record forms; three out of the four operators offered to provide monthly trip
        information for 1995 but this has not been received. Operators also agreed in
        principle to record details of their trips on similar log sheets in 1996, although some
        were not keen to provide passenger numbers and one preferred to use his own method
        of recording trip information. In 1996, only four of the nine accredited operators
        returned completed trip log forms; an additional operator sent in details only of
        encounters with dolphins.

`       Co-operation with the DSP operator self-monitoring schemes such as the keeping of
        log sheets has been poor. Some operators have commented that making a note of the
        basic elements of each trip is too time consuming, and there is reluctance to record
        and pass on passenger numbers. This needs to be rectified in the future by the DSP
        and the operators agreeing on the form and content of the log sheets. Maintenance of
        such data will help to accurately assess the supply and demand for dolphin and
        wildlife cruises, and the volume of commercial boat trips being operated in various

                 Independent Observers

        Monitoring operators’ adherence to the DSP Code of Conduct and the quality of
        accredited cruises has been carried out in a random way by passengers who agreed to
        accompany cruises then complete and return a report form to the PO giving details of
        their trip. Most of those who volunteered to carry out this type of surveillance did not
        in the end take a trip, and only 7 report forms were completed in 1995 and 2 in 1996.
        Feedback from passengers and others on both positive and negative aspects of the
        cruises was discussed with the accredited operators when appropriate, as well as at the
        end of the visitor season in October 1995.

                 Responding to Complaints

        In 1996, the DSP did not have an agreed mechanism for dealing with incidents;
        reports of code breaches and other complaints were only logged rather than notified to
        the appropriate operator. However, at the end of the 1996 visitor season, details of
        complaints or reports from observers and passengers were sent to the operators
        concerned for their attention. Reports of incidents or complaints should in future be
        relayed to operators as soon as possible so that they have an opportunity to rectify the
        problem and put their side of the story across.

        In the autumn of 1996, the steering group for the DSP was replaced by an
        Accreditation Review Group consisting of representatives from Scottish Natural
        Heritage, Scottish Wildlife Trust, the EU LIFE Programme, Tourism and Environment
        Task Fore, Scottish Tourist Board, Highlands of Scotland Tourist Board (HOST) and
        Highland Council; the Aberdeen and Grampian Tourist Board and The Moray Council
        have also been invited to join this group. As part of the Accreditation Review Group,
        HOST has agreed that in 1997 it will take responsibility for dealing with complaints
Dolphin Space Programme                                                        Arnold 1997
        about accredited boat operators. HOST operates a system of notifying the first 3
        complaints to their members, with a fourth complaint resulting in a meeting between
        the member and representatives from HOST. Repeated unremedied complaints can
        result in loss of HOST membership and, in the case of accredited boat operators,
        revocation of accreditation. Membership of HOST will thus become one of the
        criteria for accreditation in future.

        Accredited Operators’ Assessment of the DSP


        In late October 1995 each of the 4 accredited operators was interviewed and a
        questionnaire completed detailing their comments on the first season of the
        Accreditation Scheme. All agreed that they would be willing to join the scheme again
        in 1996, and none were concerned about the lack of extra interpretive material (such
        as specific trip commentary) which the PO had hoped to provide for each operator. In
        fact, one operator positively did not want more interpretive material as he felt that his
        passengers were nearly overloaded with information. However, the reference
        information provided for accredited operators and their passengers was also
        mentioned by each operator as the second most important benefit of accreditation.
        The consistent and widely distributed publicity about the DSP which resulted in
        increased customer referrals to accredited operators was highlighted as the primary
        benefit of accreditation; one operator felt that accreditation in itself was a benefit to
        his business.

        Both of the part-time operators noted an increase in telephone enquiries during the
        1995 season, and felt this was a direct result of the extra publicity from accreditation.
        Neither operator was in a position to take advantage of the apparent rise in demand for
        boat trips, as the harbours from which they operate are tidal and sailing times are thus
        restricted. One of these boats is chartered mainly by anglers; wildlife or dolphin trips
        are organised for individual parties only when specially requested. This operator does
        not wish to concentrate on wildlife cruises and is not interested in running scheduled
        dolphin watching trips.

        Three of the four operators accredited in 1995 felt that current levels of commercial
        trip boat volume and recreational boats do not constitute an additional threat to the
        Moray Firth dolphins. Their general opinion was that the dolphins are not seriously
        threatened by potential disturbance from such boat traffic. However, these operators
        preferred to be associated with the scheme ‘just in case’ their activities could have a
        negative impact on the dolphins, as long as accreditation does not involve them in a
        great deal of extra work or adversely affect the income from their operations.

        All of the operators agreed to participate in further socio-economic surveys and
        monitoring systems in 1996, including completing trip log sheets, and were willing to
        hand out questionnaires to passengers. Operators suggested that passenger self-

Dolphin Space Programme                                                         Arnold 1997
        completion questionnaires be kept short and include tick boxes for most questions to
        encourage a higher rate of completion and return to the DSP.

        Accredited operators felt that, in the future, benefits of accreditation should include:

         Continued extra advertising and referrals directing customers to accredited

         More interpretive information to enable operators to improve the quality of trips. It
          was mentioned that inaccurate information or misinformation decreased the value
          not only of accreditation but of the ‘product’ (wildlife cruises). One operator felt
          that extra interpretive assistance might represent ‘too much control of a private
          operation’ and that too much information would swamp the customer.

         Training for operators in how to achieve good safety and navigational standards, as
          well as increasing operators’ knowledge about wildlife and the marine

        ∙ The support of tourist boards for the DSP and their encouragement of members to
            provide a quality product; this would increase referrals and repeat business. One
            operator noted that 70% of his passengers in 1995 were repeat customers.

        The DSP approach was felt to be reasonably successful. One operator thought that the
        DSP had increased awareness amongst operators, as well as the public, about the
        importance of the marine environment and the issue of disturbance, and was at least a
        start toward some form of control for boat-based dolphin watching.

        Suggestions from the operators as to how the aims of the DSP could be more
        effectively achieved were as follows:

         increase the number of shore locations offering information to visitors about
          cetaceans and the wildlife in the Firth;

         ensure that the North Kessock and other visitor centres do not recommend
          unaccredited operators;

         offer no interpretive, financial or other help to unaccredited operators;

         continue trying to persuade tourist boards not to recommend unaccredited

         make the message of the DSP to reduce disturbance to the dolphins more up front
          and ‘punchy’;

         publicise the dolphins in ‘a good way’, such as making a film, as this could
          increase the benefits to individual businesses and the local economy.
Dolphin Space Programme                                                          Arnold 1997
        No alterations to the Accreditation Scheme or Code of Conduct were suggested, but it
        was mentioned that a more robust flag should be provided and one operator felt that
        information about routes and other details is commercially sensitive and should be
        treated by the DSP as confidential.

        Only one of the four operators felt strongly that some type of regulation of commercial
        dolphin watching was necessary. Comments from the operators on the types of
        controls or regulations which would best ensure the sustainability of the dolphin
        population and the wildlife cruise industry were:

         Legislation should include a statutory licensing system for commercial boat
          operators. This would ensure that the conditions for operation of wildlife cruise
          businesses were more equitable.

         Over-regulation could be unfair, and educating people to care for their environment
          may be a more effective way of regulating boat-based dolphin watching.

         Continue to keep adherence to the Code of Conduct on a voluntary basis because it
          is simpler and involves less bureaucracy. It was felt that once legal systems
          become involved, procedures become more complex and time consuming.

         One operator felt that there should be no controls or regulation of dolphin watching
          boats as this would restrict individual freedom; he was not convinced that certain
          boating activities can have an adverse impact on the dolphins.

        Three of the four accredited operators felt that there should be some sanction or
        penalty for accredited operators who do not comply with the conditions of
        accreditation. Discussion with operators about any breaches of the conditions of
        accreditation, followed by withdrawal of accreditation was considered an acceptable
        sanction. It was mentioned that if accreditation became compulsory, the Code of
        Conduct and any other conditions could then be enforced. One operator felt that
        withdrawal of accreditation would not represent much of a sanction as, unless there
        was a law prohibiting unlicensed or unaccredited operations, he would still operate
        dolphin watching boat trips whether accredited or not.

        Operators considered that the most important threats to dolphins and other marine
        wildlife are:-

        1.    Pollution in general was seen as the primary threat to dolphins and other wildlife.
              Operators specifically mentioned concerns about dumping in the Cromarty Firth,
              as well as sewage discharges into the inner Moray Firth.

        2.    Bottom trawling for prawns was seen as a threat to the ecology of the Firth and
              thus to its wildlife; it was thought that some 30 boats of varying sizes were
              engaged in this activity between Balintore and Cromarty.

Dolphin Space Programme                                                          Arnold 1997

        A survey of the public, boat passengers and accredited operators commissioned by the
        LIFE Programme in 1996 (INC, 1996) reports the following results from their
        interviews with accredited operators about the scheme:

         Accredited operators are not necessarily supporters of the aims of the scheme as
          such, but participation is free and there are publicity benefits from membership.

         The perceived value of the Accreditation Scheme varies widely between operators.
          The more experienced people tend to believe that the dolphins can look after
          themselves, and that experienced operators do not need the code to operate in a
          sustainable way.

         Although the marketing value of the DSP is seen as marginal, membership is free
          and any additional trade through DSP publicity is considered a bonus. Operators
          see the main benefit of the scheme as providing them with educational material for
          their skippers and passengers.

         Four of the operators took out a total of fewer than 1000 dolphin watching
          passengers in 1996 and for two of them the sea angling trade is more important.
          Two other operators each took out about 1000 visitors, but the three other
          businesses jointly had more than 30,000 passengers over the year, and are generally
          finding that demand is growing.

         It is estimated that the nine operators provide about 14 full-time equivalent jobs
          through wildlife and dolphin watching trips, but the scheme does not appear to be a
          factor of any significance in this.

         The report expresses doubts about how closely some of the operators adhere to the
          current code in practice, but suggests that more intensive ‘policing’ could be
          counter-productive and might possibly trigger the defection of generally well-
          motivated operators.

         The report assesses the scheme as a good example of joint public/private sector
          sustainable tourism, although some of the boat operators are still fundamentally
          distrustful of SNH.

         The report concludes from discussions with the operators that the scheme is still
          fragile. It is suggested that care will need to be taken not to put too many demands
          on to the operators and that this may be difficult without a dedicated Project

        Boat Traffic Surveys

        During their research in the Kessock Channel in 1994, Vincent Janik of the University
        of St. Andrews and Thomas Lutkebohle of Kiel University, Germany, both associated
Dolphin Space Programme                                                       Arnold 1997
        with the University of Aberdeen Lighthouse Field Station in Cromarty, recorded
        details of boat traffic in this area during the period 1 July to 23 September. A study by
        Lutkebohle from 1 July to 9 September 1994 found that more than half the total
        number of recorded vessels (53%) consisted of recreational boats. However, although
        there were more individual recreational craft, they accounted for less vessel activity in
        terms of time spent in the study area (24%) than the single dolphin watching boat
        which created 30% of total recorded vessel activity time(Lutkebohle, 1995). These
        results indicate that recreational and dolphin watching boats have a significant effect
        on boat traffic time spent within the Kessock Channel; together these 2 categories of
        vessel more than doubled the boat activity in this sensitive area.

        Observations by Vincent Janik over a shorter period in August and September 1994
        (prior to the DSP being implemented) indicated that over 50% of the boat traffic
        recorded during his study was due to the activities of one dolphin watching boat. The
        study results showed a decrease in surfacings by dolphins in the Kessock Channel
        after the approach of the dolphin watching boat. However, the dolphins did not show
        any significant reaction to routine boat traffic which passed through the area in a
        predictable straight line. The behaviour of the dolphin watching boat was different, in
        that it remained in the channel for longer periods and often followed the dolphins. It
        also considerably increased the volume of boat traffic to which dolphins were exposed
        (Janik & Thompson, 1996).

        As vessel types and activity patterns in the Kessock Channel can have an impact on
        the dolphins in this area, the aim of the DSP boat traffic monitoring in 1995 was to
        record vessel and dolphin occurrence in this area for at least the period of peak visitor
        influx between July and September. The methodology for collecting the 1995 data
        was developed in collaboration with T. Lutkebohle so that results for 1994 and 1995
        could be compared. The main features which could be objectively recorded without
        aid of theodolites or complicated methodology were boat type and presence, and
        dolphin presence. Preliminary analysis of the data recorded by observers during the
        period 1 August to 10 September 1995 indicates that the 2 dolphin watching boats
        were responsible for 53% of the total traffic volume in terms of time in the Kessock
        Channel, while recreational boats accounted for 37% (20% sailing yachts, 10% motor
        boats, 7% recreational craft including canoes, windsurfers, small dinghies etc); the
        remaining 10% of boat activity in this area was due to commercial and other vessels
        (Lutkebohle, 1996).

        No boat traffic surveys were conducted in 1996.

        Reports of Disturbance

        The DSP has logged records of incidents reported by the public of behaviour which
        they have felt to be poor or potentially dangerous to both marine mammals and other
        water users. Although most of the ‘incidents’ occurred in the Kessock area, some
        were also reported from Cullen, Chanonry Point and Cromarty. A variety of
        watercraft have been recorded in these reports, including sea canoes (kayaks), jet skis,
        power boats and dolphin watching boats.
Dolphin Space Programme                                                          Arnold 1997
        In 1995, at least 46 instances of boating behaviour thought to disturb dolphins in the
        vicinity were recorded by staff at the North Kessock Seal and Dolphin Information
        Centre; 25 of these involved dolphin watching boats, including breaches of the DSP
        code and noise created by a faulty engine or gearbox which produced sounds within
        the frequency range of dolphin communication whistles. The remaining 21 incidents
        were caused by recreational boats. The South Kessock dolphin watch groups also
        record boating behaviour incidents during their weekly dolphin watches. In 1996, a
        total of 23 incidents involving dolphin watching boats breaching the code were
        recorded by the North Kessock Seal and Dolphin Centre or reported by the public, and
        subsequently notified to the 3 accredited operators concerned. There were also reports
        of engine noise from one vessel which was within the frequencies of dolphin
        communications. A further 4 reports were received of possible harassment of
        dolphins by recreational boats or other watercraft during August and September 1996.

        Members of the public reporting their concerns to the PO about boat/dolphin
        interactions were encouraged to report such incidents to the police so that a record of
        complaints could be kept by the appropriate authorities. As local police were
        occasionally uncertain as to their role in preventing boats from harassing dolphins (an
        offence under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981), the PO discussed the situation
        with the Wildlife Liaison Officer for the Northern Constabulary, who agreed to
        circulate information to his officers about the relevant legislation which protects
        cetaceans in the Moray Firth from deliberate disturbance. The Accreditation Scheme
        project should maintain communication with the police Wildlife Liaison Officer,
        advising him of the future aims of the DSP and any changes to the Code of Conduct or
        criteria for accreditation of wildlife cruise operators.

        Socio-Economic Monitoring Surveys

        A survey assessing awareness of the aims of the DSP was conducted in August and
        September 1995 by Independent Northern Consultants and from July to October 1996.
        The survey indicated that for the majority of passengers (83 %), their boat trip was
        their first boat-based dolphin watching experience in the Moray Firth (INC, 1996).
        Boat operators are therefore in a strong position to persuade passengers of the
        necessity for good boating practice and care for marine wildlife, to influence whether
        or not the experience is repeated, and to provide information about the wider marine
        environment and surrounding attractions. If the area is promoted well, visitors may
        spend a longer time exploring the area, thus increasing total revenues to communities
        around the Moray Firth.

        Some of the main findings of the INC socio-economic survey relating to the DSP are
        as follows:


Dolphin Space Programme                                                       Arnold 1997
         “From the survey of boat trip participants, 62% of boat trip respondents saw
          dolphins on their trip in 1996, compared with the 78% of people interviewed at the
          Dolphin and Seal Centre who saw dolphins from the shore during their visit.

         34% of those interviewed who had not taken a boat trip claimed to know that there
          is a Code of Conduct for dolphin watching boats in the Moray Firth, although only
          16% had heard of the DSP.

         90% of interviewees support the aims of the DSP and, on prompting, 9% had seen
          a DSP leaflet or poster - lower than the 18% in 1995, and suggesting that
          promotion of the scheme could be improved.

         A similar number of interviewees would be interested in taking a dolphin boat trip
          in the future as in taking a more general marine wildlife boat trip (59% and 56%

         If taking a boat trip, 75% of interviewees would definitely use an accredited
          operator and all would travel further for this if required; most (73%) also being
          prepared to pay more for an accredited operator.

         A small proportion of tourist visitors (4%) had or expected to have spent an extra
          night in the Moray Firth area because of wanting to see dolphins, 3% had visited
          the area solely or principally because of the presence of dolphins, while a further
          12% said that this had been a factor in their decision. These results are marginally
          lower than those for 1995.

        Boat Trip Passengers

         53% of respondents had also seen dolphins in the Moray Firth from the shore, most
          often from North Kessock (14%) or Chanonry Point (13%). Boat trip passengers,
          however, generally thought that dolphins are more likely to be seen from a boat
          than from the shore (52%) or equally likely (33%).

         74% of respondents were aware that there was a Code of Conduct for dolphin
          watching in the Moray Firth, but only 42% had heard of the DSP while 30% were
          aware of the Accreditation Scheme prior to their boat trip.

         89% of the people who did not see dolphins still found the trip worth taking.

         93% of respondents think that they will take another boat trip in the future, and
          71% of these people said that they would definitely use an accredited operator.

         28% of tourist respondents said that the presence of dolphins had been the sole or
          principal reason for their decision to visit the area and 26% said that it was a factor,
          while 16% said that they had spent at least one extra night in the area because of
          wanting to see dolphins.

Dolphin Space Programme                                                          Arnold 1997
        Economic Impact

         It is clear that dolphin watching, particularly from boats, generates very substantial
          economic impact in the Moray Firth area.

         The survey work suggests that demand is continuing to grow and that supply is
          responding to this. In terms of long term sustainability, appropriate regulation is
          important, and the Dolphin Space Programme should continue to be the focus for
          this control, with review and adjustment as required.

        Future Monitoring and Assessment

         The Accreditation Scheme may evolve from its present form, and any future
          monitoring should reflect this. We have doubts about how closely some of the
          operators adhere to the current code in practice, but more intensive “policing”
          could be counter-productive and trigger the defection of generally well-motivated

         This scheme is a good example of a joint private/public sector sustainable tourism
          initiative, even if some of the boat operators are still fundamentally distrustful of

         Achieving the participation of 9 boat operators, by nature independent people, has
          set a good example to other sectors and other areas, although we believe that the
          task of holding together the DSP without a dedicated Project Officer should not be

         The impact of the scheme would be increased if it could be given more publicity to
          prospective and actual dolphin or wildlife boat trip customers. Creating in
          consumers’ minds expectations of sustainable and sensitive practices would help to
          transfer the adoption of comparable schemes.” (INC, 1996)

        One of the most encouraging of the above findings, is that such a large proportion of
        passengers who did not see dolphins still enjoyed the cruise. This supports the
        impression that for most visitors, the boat trip itself is a treat. Therefore, offering a
        high quality cruise with information about the area and its wildlife would preclude the
        need to advertise purely dolphin watching trips, as most people also enjoy the
        opportunity to go out in the Firth on a boat. By offering wildlife trips, the perceived
        pressure on boat operators to find and get close to dolphins is reduced, together with
        the potential impacts of such trips on the dolphins themselves.

        A visitor survey has also been completed for the new Dolphin and Seal Information
        Centre at North Kessock (INC, 1996), and this should contribute to the information
        which is gradually being accumulated about marine wildlife tourism in the Moray
        Firth, and interest in local dolphin-based tourism in particular.
Dolphin Space Programme                                                         Arnold 1997

        The PO maintained links and sent information about the DSP to other coastal areas of
        the UK which are frequented by bottlenose dolphins, including Cardigan Bay in
        Wales, Devon, Cornwall and Ireland. Some survey and information recording forms
        were also sent to the Conservation Officer of the Ceredigion Marine Heritage Coast
        office of Ceredigion District Council (West Wales) as part of an exchange of ideas
        about their ongoing boat traffic and dolphin survey.

                 Ceredigion Coast, Wales

        Since 1993, the Ceredigion Marine Heritage Coast project has brought together over
        100 local people who act as ‘volunteer wardens’ during the summer. This group
        conducts shore-based boat traffic and dolphin surveys each year in July and August, as
        well as helping with the beach litter surveys, Festival of the Coast days and other local
        activities to develop and protect the heritage coast in that area. Each member of the
        group has a ‘volunteer warden’ T-shirt and their is a strong sense of group identity and
        purpose. The most rewarding aspect of this group, now entering its fifth year, has
        been the success of the volunteer network in raising awareness of local marine issues,
        encouraging local participation in decision making, and in directly involving local
        people in activities which benefit their coastline and marine wildlife. The goodwill
        and co-operation engendered has been enormous and local boat trip operators have
        also been equally co-operative.

        The boat trips offered out of New Quay in Cardigan Bay, at the northern end of the
        Marine Heritage Coast, are advertised as wildlife trips. In 1995 one operator briefly
        advertised evening ‘dolphin trips’. However, after local objections and discussion
        with the Heritage Coast Conservation Officer, this was changed to ‘wildlife and
        coastal trips’. By running trial wildlife trips, complete with informative commentary
        from one of the staff coastal wardens, the Heritage Coast team illustrated to local boat
        operators that guided coastal cruises could be very successful without targeting the

        Several Marine Heritage Coast trips are run each summer, and the commercial ‘trips
        round the bay’ and farther along the coast now also feature informed commentary for
        passengers. Commercial boat operators are issued with landing and harbour access
        permits by the local Council and the Harbour Master is active in monitoring adherence
        to local Codes of Conduct and speed byelaws. The trip boats avoid directly
        approaching dolphins, while explaining to their customers that the animals are
        feeding, resting, or some other important activity and therefore the boat will often
        keep its distance so as not to intrude on these essential activities. This is a good
        example of a successful effort by the Ceredigion community and its Council to create
        a protected area of their coast and then to actively take measures to manage it on a co-
        operative basis.

Dolphin Space Programme                                                         Arnold 1997
         Concerned residents also monitor the coast and report erratic boating behaviour, such
        as chasing dolphins, to the Council coastal wardens. As part of their duties, the full-
        time wardens then speak to the relevant boat drivers and explain the local speed bye-
        laws as well as recommended behaviour for boats using this stretch of Heritage Coast.
        The local Councils along Cardigan Bay, and the Countryside Council for Wales, have
        maintained a policy of not promoting one particular species of marine wildlife over
        another. This has likely reduced the specific focus on dolphins while raising a more
        balanced awareness of the full spectrum of wildlife and natural heritage found along
        the Cardigan Bay coast.

                 Devon and Cornwall

        The potential problems created by an increase in boat-based marine mammal watching
        activity are not only of concern in Scotland and Wales, but are also of interest to other
        areas in the UK where coastal populations of bottlenose dolphins and other cetaceans
        are seen relatively close to shore. During the 1990s, a small population of bottlenose
        dolphins has ranged along the Devon and Cornish coasts and has been the subject of
        preliminary studies since 1994. The voluntary Sea Watch Code is well publicised and
        distributed by active local groups and individuals along the southwest coast of
        England and in other areas of the UK coast.

        In 1995, established commercial scenic and wildlife trip operators in Devon and
        Cornwall apparently focused more often on the bottlenose dolphins, with a single
        group of animals often exposed to close approaches and surrounded by a succession of
        tour boats for the greater part of the day for several days in a row. The passengers’
        interactions with these animals have often been irresponsible and concerned residents
        have reported seeing people throw sandwiches and other food, as well as full soft
        drink cans directly at bowriding and nearby dolphins (Hingley, pers.comm). The
        introduction of an interim voluntary code for recreational and commercial dolphin
        watching boats could help alleviate some of these problems while further legislation
        for cetacean protection in UK coastal waters is being considered. The local Council
        has been approached for help in establishing guidelines for dolphin watching boats.


        In the Shannon Estuary in Ireland, there was one boat offering dolphin watching trips,
        increasing to 3 trip boats in 1996. The Shannon Development Company, which
        functions as the promoter of tourism in the Shannon Region, is encouraging dolphin
        watching boat operators to behave in a responsible manner towards dolphins by
        refusing to promote operators or encourage travel writers to mention them until they
        have agreed to operate a basic Code of Conduct. For example, allowing passengers to
        enter the water with dolphins had become fairly common, but the new code prohibits
        this practice. Regulations to protect this dolphin population, incorporating parts of the
        Code of Conduct, such as a prohibition on swimming with dolphins, are currently
        being drafted and may be in effect in 1997. The Shannon recommendations are based
        on the guidelines in the DSP and Dolphin Awareness codes (Appendix 21). The
        responsible authorities in this area are now actively considering the implementation of
Dolphin Space Programme                                                         Arnold 1997
        an Accreditation Scheme similar to that initiated in the Moray Firth (M. Roberts, pers.

                 Other Areas

        Leaflets together with posters and briefing sheets about the DSP project have also
        been sent to numerous individuals and organisations with an interest in the
        management of whale and dolphin watching, both within the UK and internationally.
        A number of those circulated are very interested in the project and wish to be kept
        informed of its progress and development. Further information about the DSP was
        presented to the European Cetacean Society Conference in Lisbon in March 1996 and
        cetacean researchers from countries such as Italy, Norway, Portugal and the Canary
        Islands, amongst others, expressed an interest in the development of the Moray Firth
        Accreditation Scheme. In future, it could be useful to circulate information about the
        DSP and its progress to date to the participants of the IWC whale watching working


7.1     Assessment of the Dolphin Space Programme

        Overall, the Accreditation Scheme was reasonably successful in its first trial year, with
        two-thirds of the operators who regularly offered wildlife and dolphin watching trips
        in the Moray Firth becoming accredited. The problems encountered during the
        development of the Scheme are mentioned in this report in the hope that our
        experience may be useful to groups in other areas who are developing co-operative
        management strategies for marine wildlife tourism, or similar good practice, quality
        assurance schemes. The progress of the DSP from its first to second season has
        clearly illustrated that it is essential to have the support and co-operation of local
        authorities and agencies involved in tourism and the environment, the boat operators,
        and local communities in order to develop an effective management strategy for
        sustainable dolphin watching.

        However, a voluntary approach based on the precautionary principle, even with local
        co-operation, may not be sufficient to ensure the successful management of cetacean
        populations and the tourist enterprises which depend upon them. A more equitable
        method of reducing the potential disturbance to dolphins in the Moray Firth from
        recreational and commercial dolphin watching boats may be to initiate statutory
        regulations which manage the behaviour of recreational boats, and define the criteria
        for granting permits to conduct dolphin watching boat trips, filming excursions and
        scientific research.

7.1.1 Social Impact

         In 1995, accredited operators felt that the primary benefit of DSP membership was
        the extra positive publicity and referrals which their businesses received. They also
        felt that a second major advantage of joining the scheme was the receipt of reference
Dolphin Space Programme                                                         Arnold 1997
        material and information for display, which was accessible to passengers as well as
        operators. In 1996, operators indicated that the main benefit of accreditation was the
        educational material provided, while the publicity from the Accreditation Scheme was
        of marginal benefit.

        The local and national publicity given to the DSP and its aims throughout the summer
        of 1995 also raised public awareness of the issue of the potential for dolphin watching
        activities to disturb the very animals they wish to observe. Although the distribution
        of the DSP leaflets and posters was poor within Inverness itself in 1995 and early
        1996, the circulation in other areas of the Firth and nationally through wildlife and
        other organisations was good. This increased awareness of both the positive and
        potential negative impacts of marine wildlife cruises.

        The response from local residents to the objectives of the DSP has been encouraging
        and the scheme now has the full support of the Scottish Tourist Board, the Tourism
        and Environment Task Force and the Highlands of Scotland Tourist Board. The
        former Tourism Development section of Ross and Cromarty District Council, which
        developed the North Kessock Seal and Dolphin Information Centre, has been
        consistently and actively supportive of the Accreditation Scheme and its aims
        throughout its development and implementation.

        Other areas in the UK have expressed an interest in the scheme, including boat trip
        operators on the West Coast of Scotland, operators and authorities in Cardigan Bay in
        Wales, and interested parties in Devon and Cornwall. In the Shannon Estuary in
        Ireland, the DSP code and Accreditation Scheme have provided a model for the
        development of good practice initiatives and regulations. In the wider European
        context, the Tethys Institute in Italy is developing a voluntary scheme for the
        management of new fin whale watching enterprises in the Ligurian Sea (Notobartollo,
        pers. comm). Interest has been expressed by Portuguese researchers concerned with
        studies of the bottlenose dolphin population in the Sado Estuary where dolphin
        watching activities are increasing. Norwegian researchers have also found the
        experience of the DSP project useful in the development of a code of conduct for
        commercial orca watching boats. The owners of a dolphin tour operation in Victoria,
        Australia have adopted the DSP slogan ‘Watch How You Watch’, as a central theme
        for their schools education programmes.

7.1.2 Economic Impact

        The weather in the Moray Firth during the summer of 1995 was unusually good, and
        there may have been increased numbers of visitors as a result. Although all of the
        accredited operators reported more enquiries about their boat trips that year, it is not
        possible to quantify the economic impact, if any, of accreditation. If in future
        accredited operators keep a record of enquiries, noting where the caller heard about
        their business, it may be possible to estimate the economic impact of membership of
        the Accreditation Sheme. However, press, radio and television coverage of the
        Acreditation Sheme extended throughout the 1995 season in particular, highlighting

Dolphin Space Programme                                                          Arnold 1997
        the Moray Firth and its dolphins, and this could have attracted a number of visitors to
        the area.

        It is likely that the 1995 visitor season was also an excellent one for unaccredited boat
        operators as they maintained a high profile in the media throughout the summer. One
        of the Inverness operators did mention that, although he had been concerned that his
        business would lose custom through lack of accreditation, he was also receiving more
        telephone enquiries as a result of the publicity for the DSP and the perceived conflict
        between the accreditation project and the 2 trip boats operating in the Kessock
        Channel. The good weather and easy access from the centre of Inverness likely
        provided good passenger numbers during the peak summer months of 1995 for both of
        the operators at Inverness Harbour. Although it is not possible to quantify the
        economic impact of the DSP on the 2 unaccredited operators in 1995, it is probable
        that they too benefited from increased custom as a result of publicity about the
        scheme. In 1996, operators felt that membership in the Accreditation Scheme had no
        marked impact on their trade (INC 1996).

        The DSP maintained close links with the new Dolphin and Seal Information Centre at
        North Kessock, sending information about the new centre to those enquiring about the
        DSP. The centre in turn displayed DSP leaflets and posters and did not promote
        unaccredited operators. The information sent out by the DSP may have encouraged
        some visits to the North Kessock shore watching centre. Seeing dolphins and dolphin
        watching boats from the viewing point onshore is also likely to increase visitor
        interest in taking boat trips in the Moray Firth.

7.1.3 Environmental Impact

        The impact of the Accreditation scheme on the cetacean populations in the Moray
        Firth cannot be assessed over such a short period of time. Impacts on the marine
        environment and marine wildlife populations are interactive, and it may be impossible
        to distinguish the precise effect or proportion of impact due to one particular threat,
        unless a directly linked death or injury is involved. Assessment of potential impacts
        currently involves years of consistent monitoring. Recent local research indicates that
        continual monitoring for more than a decade is required in order to assess the stability,
        rise or fall in the estimated number of 130 individuals in the Moray Firth bottlenose
        dolphin population (Wilson, 1995).

        The scheme had no impact on boat traffic volume in the sensitive area of the Kessock
        Channel in 1995 as the 2 unaccredited boat operators continued to run up to six or
        more trips per day within this narrows. Although a number of instances were reported
        in 1995 of breaches by these 2 boats of the main elements of the DSP code, it
        appeared that their behaviour in the vicinity of dolphins did generally improve in
        comparison to the previous year. However, once the 2 Inverness operators joined the
        scheme in August 1996, they reduced their trips within the sensitive area to a
        maximum of 3 each per day and this in effect at least halved the volume of traffic that
        they created within the Kessock Channel.

Dolphin Space Programme                                                         Arnold 1997
        Membership of the DSP may also have encouraged boat operators in other areas of the
        Moray Firth to behave more cautiously around dolphins. All boat trip operators in the
        Firth are now more aware of the potential for their vessels to disturb the dolphins, and
        this should be of benefit to cetacean populations in this area in the long term. Some
        accredited operators showed an improvement in the quality of trips offered and in their
        behaviour around the dolphins. The existence of the DSP may therefore have been
        responsible for some general improvement in trip quality and behaviour. Although all
        accredited operators have agreed to some modifications to their cruises in order to
        follow the Code of Conduct, most operators continue to conduct their trips in much
        the same way as previously, with some improvements in the information and
        experience provided to their passengers.

        Assessing effects of disturbance caused by the volume and behaviour of vessels on
        cetaceans will also take years, and it is acknowledged by scientists in this field that
        further research should be done (IFAW et al, 1995). Also, there is no way at present
        of making accurate health assessments of wild dolphins without direct sampling or
        capture. Just as it is difficult to say with any precision that a specific dolphin
        behaviour reflects a particular mood, it is also difficult to assess the health of
        individual animals in the wild. At the moment, this can only be done by necropsy of
        dead animals, but carcasses are rarely found in the condition required to provide the
        necessary information. However, as an educational exercise highlighting potential
        human impacts on marine wildlife, the DSP has probably had a positive effect on the
        marine environment of the Moray Firth. The scheme also raised local interest and
        awareness of an important issue and this can only benefit the environment in the long

7.1.4 The Dolphin Space Programme and Future Work

        The experience gained during the development of the DSP has reinforced the essential
        nature of local co-operation with any voluntary quality assurance scheme. The project
        should continue and grow in scope on a longer term basis in future, seeking broad
        based funding to ensure that the project does not lose the momentum it has acquired
        during the past 2 years. The original aims of the DSP could be developed with the
        objective of their ultimate inclusion within a strategic framework for marine wildlife
        tourism, initially throughout the Highlands and Islands, and then extended to a wider
        area of Scotland. The Dolphin Space Programme represents a benchmark for
        environmentally sensitive wildlife cruises in the Moray Firth and continuation of the
        Accreditation Scheme is essential in order to further develop effective management
        strategies for boat-based dolphin watching in this and other areas. Suggested
        guidelines for the development of similar schemes, based on DSP experience, are
        included in Appendix 22, together with a suggested ‘decision tree’ (Appendix 23) for
        making decisions about whale watching rules (IFAW et al, 1995).

        The marine environment of the Highlands and Islands offers a tremendous opportunity
        for education, interpretation and tourism and these assets could be utilised in a
        sustainable manner through improved integration of existing initiatives. The recently
Dolphin Space Programme                                                        Arnold 1997
        formed Accreditation Review Group comprising representatives of local Councils,
        environmental and tourism agencies, should facilitate a more holistic approach to
        quality assurance. The active support of such groups will help to facilitate the broader
        interpretation of the marine environment and the presentation of information about the
        Accreditation Scheme in a wider range of promotional material.


         Review accreditation criteria and accredit or re-accredit boat operators as

         Develop and re-launch the project prior to the 1997 tourist season, to highlight
          land-based dolphin watching and the accredited operators. Accompanying
          interpretive material could emphasise the attractions of the wider Moray Firth
          marine environment, incorporating local codes for dolphin watching, recreational
          boating and respect for the marine environment.

         Provide training, educational and interpretive materials for accredited operators in
          order to improve the quality of their trips and increase the educative element of the
          experience offered to passengers; where appropriate, hold training workshops for
          operators and their staff. Interpetation should convey information about cetaceans
          as well as other marine wildlife, in order to promote the wider marine environment.

         Although accredited boat operators were given a wide variety of reference
          materials in 1995, and a larger pack of interpretive materials with a broader range
          of information about the Moray Firth and its marine wildlife in 1996, it was not
          possible to provide individually tailored trip commentary scripts or text for
          passenger information handouts. In future, the PO could offer assistance with such
          interpretation, together with more in-depth training workshops. It may be possible
          to train wildlife guides for work on boat trips; provision of a guide training scheme
          should be investigated for the 1997 season. Although operators do not appear to be
          keen to contribute to the cost of further training workshops, they could be
          canvassed to find out whether or not any of them would in future be willing to pay
          some contribution toward having a qualified wildlife guide aboard their vessels.

         Meet with boat operators several times during the year to discuss their concerns and
          ideas, and arrange for the PO and individual members of the Accreditation Review
          Group to accompany trips aboard all accredited boats several times during the
          visitor season.

Dolphin Space Programme                                                        Arnold 1997
         Organise two-three informal meetings when all boat operators can get together to
          discuss their operations and share information. This should increase understanding
          between operators.

         Continue liaison with areas of the UK and other countries where effective measures
          for management of whale and dolphin watching operations are established or

         Continue to publicise the Dolphin Awareness Initiative recreational boating code
          through distribution of pamphlets, writing to user group magazines and erection of
          signboards. Also continue liaison with the Round Scotland Powerboat Race
          organisers re future events.

         Publish an edited or ‘digest’ version of this report for distribution to others
          interested in methods of managing cetacean watching operations.

         Organise talks and other educational and information sharing events in
          communities round the Firth and throughout the Highlands, open to local residents
          and visitors in co-operation with the Moray Firth Project, the North and South
          Kessock Visitor Centres, and other local groups where appropriate.

         Assess whether the voluntary approach is achieving its objectives in minimising
          disturbance to cetaceans from the range of marine vessels. If disturbance is
          considered to be a problem, then look at other forms of regulation, including the
          use of legislation.

         Link with other enterprises in the region involved with marine wildlife tourism
          (such as west coast tour operators, ferry companies etc) and strengthen partnerships
          with existing initiatives addressing the use of the marine heritage, such as the
          Minch Project, the Moray Firth Partnership, the Cromarty Firth Liaison Group,
          Inner Firths Forum, North and South Kessock interpretive centres, and other
          relevant projects.

         Local involvement in the DSP should be encouraged in order to: 1) implement a
          survey or Moray Firth boat traffic in the summer of 1997; 2) raise awareness of and
          reinforce support for the DSP and recreational boating code; 3) improve incident
          recording and reporting; 4) assist local rangers and others working on the
          conservation of the Moray Firth. It is recommended that a joint meeting of all local
          watch groups be held in 1997 to explain the aims of the DSP, and discuss how
          local volunteers can participate in helping to conserve their marine environment
          and assist with future monitoring programmes. Further talks about the DSP,
          marine mammals and the wider marine environment could be given to local interest
          groups around the Firth as well as the general public during the visitor season.
          Where possible, the DSP could encourage and participate in more marine-related
          local activities, such as guided coastal and shore walks, shore-based dolphin
          watches, beach cleaning, special events on World Oceans Day etc.

Dolphin Space Programme                                                          Arnold 1997
         The DSP could be involved in organising a conference on Scottish marine wildlife
          tourism in a healthy marine environment, to address its benefits, potential impacts,
          good practice and the question of whether one can be sustainable without the other.
          An attitude questionnaire could be sent with the registration information, to be
          followed up with a short form for completion at the end of the conference to assess
          its success and participants’ views on future development strategies.

         Briefing sheets, leaflets and a letter explaining the aims of the DSP could be sent to
          national wildlife tour companies, large travel agents such as Thomas Cook, trade
          magazines for the travel and tourist industries, trade newsletters and magazines for
          NGOs and all Scottish Tourist Board branches highlighting the scheme, to radio
          and television programme producers and researchers, as well as to bodies which
          grant awards for environmentally ‘green’ tourism ventures. By directing
          information at specialist publications for those involved in promoting the tourist
          trade and selling travel and holiday bookings, the DSP may be more successful in
          highlighting the value of high quality wildlife cruises with a low environmental

         It should be stressed in articles and interpretive literature that only cruise operators
          who have agreed to follow the DSP code have become accredited; only accredited
          operators fly the flag bearing the accredited symbol. Other areas ask that people
          ‘please do not support irresponsible dolphin watching activities’ and such a phrase
          may be suitable to try here. It should also be mentioned that comments about boat
          trips would be welcomed by HOST, the organisation which has agreed to deal with
          any incidents reported to them involving DSP accredited HOST members.

         In 1997, a single colour A5 sheet printed on both sides of plain or coloured paper
          and explaining ‘how you can help Moray Firth wildlife’, could be distributed by
          boat operators in exchange for the tour fare, at visitor centres such as those at North
          and South Kessock, tourist information centres and other visitor and local
          attractions. The sheet could feature a cartoon, and include basic good practice
          advice for the marine environment, similar to that on the Moray Firth Project
          poster, and in the Nairn Coast leaflet, as well as a copy of the recreational and
          dolphin watching boat codes and related information depending on format. Similar
          good practice information could also be included in the booklets containing the
          local tide tables for the Moray Firth.

         The DSP could participate in the production of a simple booklet about the Moray
          Firth coast, its communities and attractions (including historical, geographic and
          wildlife features, and relevant Codes of Conduct). Such a booklet could be
          distributed by boat operators and tourist information centres to guide visitors
          during their stay in the Moray Firth area. Representatives of SWT and the
          Highland Council Archaeological Service have expressed an interest in becoming
          involved in producing such a booklet

         The Moray Firth could be highlighted as an ideal place to watch for dolphins from
          the shore. This aspect of dolphin watching requires further promotion, as people
Dolphin Space Programme                                                          Arnold 1997
            are often under the impression that the best (or only) way to see dolphins is from a
            boat. However, recommendation of particular locations can increase the visitor
            impact at such sites and this aspect needs to be carefully considered in conjunction
            with further shore-based development.

         In Cardigan Bay, Wales each year they hold a Festival of the Coast, which has
          become a successful local and visitor attraction. In the San Juan Islands off
          Washington State in the USA, local research organisations tried a ‘No Sound in the
          Sound’ day, when all boats were asked to switch off their engines when orcas were
          in sight (Appendix 24). The ‘no sound’ day was primarily an exercise in local
          involvement and education, and a similar Firth-wide effort aimed at educating boat
          users in particular may be a useful event. However, as the Inner Firths are used for
          commercial traffic, it is recognised that all vessel traffic could not be stopped in the
          way it was attempted in Puget Sound.

         A Festival of the Firth day might also stimulate further involvement of local Moray
          Firth communities in appreciating dolphins and the local environment. 1997 might
          also be a good year in which to encourage local groups to have an all day dolphin
          watch from the shore (with advice from the University of Aberdeen researchers in
          Cromarty) to record dolphin distribution patterns throughout one day over the
          whole of the Firth. June 8th, World Oceans Day, might be a suitable day on which
          to schedule such a high profile event or festival. However, early August is a time
          when visitor numbers are at their height and it would be most productive if events
          could be aimed at involving local communities and visitors alike.

         The collection of £1 extra per passenger on boat trip ticket prices could be
          considered; such contributions could be placed in a trust fund for local cetacean
          research and conservation. Operators and visitors should be canvassed for their
          opinions regarding this type of contribution toward cetacean studies in the Moray
          Firth. Whale watching areas in the USA and New Zealand have found both
          passengers and operators willing to contribute to research in this way. Research
          sponsered from this source could then be fed back to the operators for use in the
          trip commentary and educational and interpretive materials on board.

         In other parts of the world, whale watch boat operators have formed their own
          associations as a marketing tool, to encourage high standards in the industry, and to
          take some responsibility for monitoring and enforcing whale watching regulations.
          There are many advantages in having an association to represent small businesses
          of this type, and Moray Firth and other Scottish coastal cruise operators may
          benefit from information about the formation of this type of association. Details of
          the British Marine Industries Federation and an example of a US association for
          whale watching boats (Appendix 25) were distributed to Moray Firth boat
          operators in 1996, and the formation of a representative group for boat operators in
          the Minch area is being discussed with representatives of the Minch Project.
          Industry representatives or members from a boat operators assocation should be
          invited to sit on any project steering group. This will help to involve this sector
          directly in any future development of the project.
Dolphin Space Programme                                                          Arnold 1997
         Organise continued monitoring of boat traffic and dolphin occurrence by forming
          and training a network of volunteers from all areas of the Moray Firth and linking
          into existing dolphin watch groups.

         Although the 1996 survey of boat operators’ views about the DSP suggests that the
          9 commercial boat trip operations carried over 30,000 passengers this season, it
          would be helpful to be able to assess demand in particular areas more accurately.
          Indications are that dolphin watching generates a substantial economic impact in
          the Moray Firth area and demand is growing.

         The success of boat operators’ marketing strategies could also be evaluated if
          operators recorded details of booking enquiries including whether or not the
          operator could accept the booking, where the enquirer heard about the trips and
          what influenced their selection of a particular operator (advertising, distance from
          accommodation, price, accreditation etc).

         In 1996 the certificates were produced in 2 sizes to aid proper display on accredited
          vessels. All accredited operators should be urged to ensure that passengers are
          aware of the DSP code and the reasons for following it. Mention of the guidelines
          in the introductory commentary and displaying the certificate of accreditation in a
          prominent place on the boat would help to draw attention to the specific elements
          of the code.

         Boat operators are concerned about the Marine Safety Agency, its changing codes
          and perceived lack of enforcement of required safety equipment and procedures.
          Liaison with the MSA and discussion with them about the operators concerns
          should be maintained. The MSA could be encouraged to produce a simplified
          single-sided version of their new safety code (to be issued in April 1998) for
          display on board licensed vessels. A shortened version for display would clarify
          the safety requirements not only for boat operators, but also for passengers. A clear
          visible code could also act as an element of enforcement of safety regulations
          through public and peer pressure, in addition to the current methods of anonymous
          reporting and random inspections by MSA officials.

         Monitoring of accredited boat operators in 1995 and 1996 was patchy; more time
          should be available in future for meeting with boat operators and accompanying
          boat trips.


        Ideally, the work of the DSP should proceed as part of a broader more strategic project
        which looks at sustainable marine and coastal wildlife tourism in the Highlands and
        Islands area rather than just in the Moray Firth. This broader project would aim,
        through co-ordinated action, to make the Highlands and Islands of Scotland the top

Dolphin Space Programme                                                        Arnold 1997
        centre for sustainable marine wildlife tourism in Europe. In order for this to be
        realised the following tasks might be undertaken.

         Appointment of a Project Officer to provide an overview and central point of
          contact for all those involved with marine wildlife tourism in the Highlands and
          Islands area.

         Liaison with other enterprises in the Highlands and Islands which either focus on
          marine wildlife or encounter marine wildlife as a result of their business (such as
          west coast operators and ferry companies).

         Linking in with existing initiatives involved in use of the marine heritage (e.g.
          Moray Firth Partnership, Inner Firths Forum, Nairn Seafront TMP, Minch Project,
          PESCA, LEADER II , Clyde Estuary Forum) in order to pool ideas and resources.

         Organising an international seminar to facilitate the sharing of information on what
          a sustainable marine tourism industry might involve.

         Assisting the industry with access to interpretative and educational materials.

         Working towards a tailored SCOTVEC award scheme for the marine wildlife
          tourist industry and, if appropriate, develop a suitable SVQ.

         Providing advice and assistance to the industry on marketing, customer care, health
          and safety and environmental awareness.

         Involving the operators in the collection of biological and economic data and to
          build this information into improving the future management and marketing of the

         Refining existing accreditation schemes for marine wildlife tourism and promote
          the benefits of such schemes to the industry, the visitor and the resource.

         Monitoring the effectiveness of accreditation schemes.

         Exploring further good practice mechanisms such as environmental codes of
          conduct for all aspects of marine and coastal tourism.

         Identify under-utilised potential for marine tourism, in particular shore based
          wildlife watching sites and to develop appropriate interpretation and visitor

         Publicise and promote the work of the project to a wider audience, both within the
          UK and abroad.

Dolphin Space Programme                                                         Arnold 1997
         Assessment of whether the principles developed for marine and coastal wildlife
          tourism can be applied and implemented for the terrestrial environment of the
          Highlands and Islands area.


         It is essential to continue regular and systematic monitoring of the bottlenose
          dolphin population in the Moray Firth in order to measure changes in distribution,
          habitat-use patterns and relative abundance.

         Develop a population model which could be used to estimate the viability of the
          bottlenose dolphin population under a range of environmental conditions and
          management regimes.

         Develop a basic protocol for monitoring boat traffic type, volume and activity at
          different locations in the Moray Firth, including changes in distribution and relative
          abundance of wildlife watching boats.

         Continue post-mortem examination and analysis of stranded cetacean carcasses.

         Investigate short and long term behavioural responses of dolphins to the volume,
          proximity and behaviour of boat traffic.

         Investigate the reactions of dolphins to the acoustic properties of a variety of boat
          types (including jet skis) and engines.

         Assess the economic impact of wildlife tourism in general, and whale and dolphin
          watching in particular, to the Moray Firth area.

         Record dolphin watching visitor (and vehicle) numbers at Chanonry Point, North
          and South Kessock, Cullen and other areas where watching for dolphins from the
          shore is popular. This will help to assess the impact of increased traffic on
          residents and to identify what ancillary visitor facilities would improve the
          experience for both visitors and residents.

         Assess whether or not the experience of whale watching has influenced
          participants’ attitudes and behaviour toward cetaceans and marine life in general,
          and their view of their own role in the conservation of marine and other

         Assess the extent to which current whale watching codes, guidelines and
          regulations are followed, as well as the accuracy with which distances included in
          such codes are judged and followed. An assessment of the situation in the Moray

Dolphin Space Programme                                                         Arnold 1997
            Firth could be followed by a review of awareness and adherence to marine mammal
            guidelines and regulations in other countries.

Dolphin Space Programme                                                    Arnold 1997

Best, Peter B. (1995). Whale Watching in South Africa. The Mammal Research Institute.
Pretoria, S Africa.

Carlson, C. (1995) A Review of Whale Watching Guidelines and Regulations Around the
World. Appendix to IFAW, Tethys and Europe Conservation 1995. Report of the Workshop
on the Scientific Aspects of Managing Whale Watching, Montecastello di Vibio, Italy.

Curran, S., Wilson, B. & Thompson, P. 1996. Recommendations for the sustainable
management of the bottlenose dolphin population in the Moray Firth. Scottish Natural
Heritage Review, No. 56.

Curran, S., Wilson, B. & Thompson, P. 1995. Recommended Guidelines for Cetacean
Watching in the Moray Firth. Draft guidance notes for Scottish Natural Heritage.

Ekos Ltd. (1995) Dolphin Awareness Initiative - Consultants’ Evaluation: Final Report for
Scottish Natural Heritage, Inverness, March, 1995.

Hingley, L. (1995) Organiser, Brixham Sea Watch Group, Cornwall.

HMSO, 1994. ‘Biodiversity : The UK Steering Group Report,’ Vol. 2: Action Plans, Annex
G - the UK Action Plan Summary Report. London.

Hoyt, E. 1995(a). The World-wide Value and Extent of Whale Watching: 1995. Whale &
Dolphin Conservation Society, Bath, UK, pp. 1-36.

Hoyt, E. 1995(b). Discover Whale and Dolphin Watching in Northern Europe. Whale &
Dolphin Conservation Society, Bath, UK, pp. 1-20.

Hoyt, E. (1992) Whale Watching Around the World. International Whale Bulletin. Summer
1992. No. 7. Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, Bath.

IFAW, Tethys and Europe Conservation. 1995. Report of the Workshop on the Scientific
Aspects of Managing Whale Watching, Montecastello di Vibio, Italy. pp 40.

Independent Northern Consultants (1995) “Assessment of the Direct Employment Impact of
Environmental Activity in the Highlands and Islands” A Report for Highlands and Islands
Enterprise and Scottish Natural Heritage, Inverness. June 1995.

Independent Northern Consultants (1995) “Voluntary Participation in Organisations and
Businesses Involved in Environmental Activity in the Highlands and Islands”. A
Supplementary Paper to the INC Employment in the Environment Report. For Scottish
Natural Heritage. Inverness. October, 1995.

Independent Northern Consultants (1996) Highland Region LIFE Programmes Project
Monitoring for 1995 and 1996. November, 1996. Inverness.
Dolphin Space Programme                                                    Arnold 1997
Ireland, Gordon (1995) Tourism Development Officer, Ross & Cromarty District Council.

IWC: Report on Responses to the Whalewatching Questionnaire. Appendix to IFAW,
Tethys and Europe Conservation. 1995. Report of the Workshop on the Scientific Aspects of
Managing Whale Watching, Montecastello di Vibio, Italy. pp 40.

Janik, V.M. and Thompson, P.M. (1996). Diving Responses of Bottlenose Dolphins to Boat
Traffic in the Moray Firth, N.E. Scotland. Marine Mammal Science.

Lutkebohle, T. (1995). Dolphin movements and behaviour in the Kessock Channel and how
these are influenced by boat traffic. Report to Scottish Natural Heritage. Inverness: 34pp.

Lutkebohle, T. (1996) Boat Traffic in the Kessock Channel in August and September 1995.
Draft report for the Dolphin Space Programme. Inverness: 15pp.

Morrison, Donald (1995) Wildlife Tourism in the Minch: Distribution, Impact and
Development Opportunities. A Report for the Minch Project, Scottish Natural Heritage, Isle
of Lewis, June 1995. Vol. 1 pp. 1-56; Appendices Vol. 2 pp. 1-74.

Notarbartolo di Sciara, G. (1995) Director, Tethys Research Institute, Milano, Italy .

Osborne, Richard (1996) The Whale Museum, Friday Harbor, Washington.

Thompson, Paul (1993) Nature Conservation: Marine. in Conference Proceedings. The
Future Firth Conference, 3 & 4th October 1992. eds. Gilbert, D., Shepherd, D. and McGinn,
D. Scottish Wildlife Trust Inner Moray Firth Members Group, Inverness.

Wilson, B. (1995) The ecology of bottlenose dolphins in the Moray Firth, Scotland: a
population at the northern extreme of the species range. Ph.D. thesis, Faculty of Biological
Science, University of Aberdeen: 218pp.

Wylie, David N. (1994) Senior Scientist, International Wildlife Coalition, Massachusetts.

Dolphin Space Programme                                                       Arnold 1997

I would like to thank all those who have provided information and support for this project
including the members of the initial steering group, in particular Ben Leyshon for his constant
help and support, and also Russell Turner, Sue Warbrick, Dr. Kenny Taylor, George
Campbell and Duncan Bryden. The initial guidance provided by the research staff at the
University of Aberdeen’s Lighthouse Field Station in Cromarty has been invaluable. We
appreciate the co-operation of Moray Firth boat operators, whose goodwill and cooperation
with this project have made the development and implementation stages of the Dolphin Space
Programme possible. Many thanks are also due to those volunteers who spent many hours
staring at the Firth in all weathers in order to accomplish the 1995 boat traffic survey,
including: Tommi Lutkebohle, Cheryl Jones, Christine Campbell and Rosie Sutherland. The
staff of both the North Kessock Seal and Dolphin Information Centre and the South Kessock
Visitor Centre have been consistently helpful, and their involvement has been a great support
to this project.

Dolphin Space Programme                                                       Arnold 1997

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APPENDICES                                                                                                  Page

Appendix 1:      Sample Definitions of ‘Disturbance’ ................................................ 58
Appendix 2:      Sample US Whale Watching Guidelines .......................................... 60
Appendix 3:      New Zealand Marine Mammal Protection Regulations 1992 .......... 71
Appendix 4:      Cetacean Protection Legislation Applicable in Scotland ................. 83
Appendix 5:      SeaWatch Foundation Code of Conduct .......................................... 85
Appendix 6:      Ceredigion Heritage Coast Code of Conduct ................................... 86
Appendix 7:      Dolphin Awareness Code ................................................................. 88
Appendix 8:      DSP Explanatory Code and Definition of Sensitive Areas .............. 89
Appendix 9:      British Marine Industries Federation ‘Navigate with Nature’ code .. 96
Appendix 10:     Mull Minke Whale Watching Guidelines .......................................... 98
Appendix 11:     Recommendations for Cetacean Watching in the Moray Firth .......... 99
Appendix 12:     Dolphin Space Programme log sheet and monthly summary .............102
Appendix 13:     DSP Accreditation Criteria .................................................................104
Appendix 14:     DSP 1996 Reference Materials for Accredited Operators ..................105
Appendix 15:     DSP 1996 Sample Accreditation Certificate ...................................... 108
Appendix 16:     Dolphin Space Programme leaflet, insert and poster ......................... 109
Appendix 17:     DSP 1996 Training Workshops .......................................................... 113
Appendix 18:     The Minch Project .............................................................................. 116
Appendix 19:     Results of DSP 1996 Workshop Questionnaire .................................. 117
Appendix 20:     DSP Guidelines for Introductory Trip Briefings ................................. 120
Appendix 21:     Shannon Code of Conduct ................................................................... 122
Appendix 22:     DSP Guidelines for Developing an Accreditation Scheme ................. 123
Appendix 23:     Making Decisions About Whale Watching Rules (IFAW et al) ......... 125
Appendix 24:     ‘No Sound in the Sound’ Days ............................................................ 126
Appendix 25:     Whale Watching Operators Association ............................................. 128

Dolphin Space Programme                                                                               Arnold 1997

1.   New Zealand: Marine Mammal Protection Regulations 1992

     “Harass” includes to do any act that -
      a. Causes or is likely to cause injury or distress to any marine mammal; or
      b. Disrupts significantly or is likely to disrupt significantly the normal behavioural
         patterns of any marine mammal.

See full copy of these regulations in Appendix 3.

2.   Canada: Marine Mammal Regulations

     St Lawrence River regulations leaflet ‘There are Limits to Observe!’, Canada:

     “Under Section 7 of the Marine Mammal Regulations ‘No person shall disturb a marine
     mammal’ in Canadian waters”. The accepted definition of ‘disturb’ within the Act is
     given as “To break up the quiet or serenity of; agitate; make uneasy or anxious”

3.   USA: Marine Mammal Protection Act

     A) Northwest Region (Washington and Oregon) National Marine Fisheries Service
       Guidelines on the Marine Mammal Protection Act:

          “People should not perform any actions that substantially disrupt the normal
          behaviour pattern of a marine mammal. Such actions include the neglect or
          intentional operation of an aircraft or vessel or individual acts that result in a
          substantial disruption of a marine mammal’s normal behaviour pattern. These
          actions would be harassment and are a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection

          additionally... “People should exert caution when in close proximity of marine
          mammals as some activities may result in harassment of the animals even in
          instances when these guidelines are being adhered to. For example, in some
          circumstances, the minimal approach distances for vessels may still result in
          disruption of the marine mammal’s behaviour, and therefore, would be interpreted
          as harassment. Failure to observe these guidelines may be interpreted as
          harassment under the MMPA.” These Guidelines are subject to change.

     B) San Juan Islands Whale Watching Guide and Guidelines, 1995:

          These outline the Federal Whale Watching Guidelines and add: “The Federal
          Whale Watching Guidelines will help you to boat safely around whales. These
          guidelines were developed to protect the whales from over-enthusiastic boaters who
Dolphin Space Programme                                                       Arnold 1997
          may inadvertently harm the animals. Failure to observe the Guidelines can be seen
          as harassment by Federal officials and can result in penalties including $20,000
          fines and imprisonment for up to one year.”

4.   South Africa: Regulation No. 30, Sea Fishery Act, 1988

     From ‘Whale Watching in South Africa’ (Best,1995), regulation defining Harassment:

         “(1) Except under the authority of a permit which may be issued by the director-
          general, no person shall catch, kill, disturb or harass any whale at any time; .....
          (2) For the purpose of subparagraph (1) “disturb or harass” shall also include -
         (a) the shooting at any whale;
         (b) approaching closer than 300 metres to any whale, whether in a vessel, aircraft or
         (c) the stopping or lingering in a boat or vessel closer than 300 metres from any
          (d) that in the event of a whale surfacing closer than 300 metres from a boat or other
          floating craft, the person in charge of such a boat fails to proceed immediately to a
          distance of at least 300 metres from the whale,
         but shall not include bona fide efforts by any person to render aid to a stranded or
          beached whale.”

5.   International Whaling Commission: Resolution on Whale Watching 1994

     The Scientific Committee of the IWC has been tasked with producing a reliable
     definition of ‘disturbance’, but this may not be available for several years. However, it
     appears that scientists generally use the term ‘disturbance’ to refer to any action which
     results in a change in the behaviour of an animal or group of animals. Any change from
     normal cetacean behaviour as observed prior to an event may be an indication of

Dolphin Space Programme                                                         Arnold 1997

1.   The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981

     This Act protects all species of cetaceans in British waters; all cetacean species have been
     included in Schedule 5 following the Quinquennial Review of the WCA in 1986. Under
     Part 1, Section 9, 4(a) and (b) of this Act, it is an offence intentionally to disturb any wild
     animal included in Schedule 5 while it is occupying a structure or place which is used for
     shelter or protection.

     Section 37(3)(b) of the WCA 1981 may provide a mechanism for restricting entry into
     particularly sensitive areas at ‘particular times of the year’.

2.   The Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c) Regulations 1994

     Following agreements to protect cetaceans and other wild animals under the European
     Community Directive on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and
     Flora (EC Habitats Directive), the Conservation Regulations came into force at the end of
     October 1994. These Regulations provide more protection in law for cetaceans than the
     WCA 1981 in that Section 39 (1) states: “... (1) It is an offence - (a) deliberately to
     capture or kill wild animals of a European protected species; (b) deliberately to disturb
     any such animal; . . . (d) to damage or destroy a breeding site or resting place of such an
     animal.” All whales, dolphins and porpoises whose natural range includes any area in
     Great Britain are listed as ‘European protected species’ in Schedule 2 to these
     Regulations. The penalty for a proven case of deliberate disturbance is a maximum fine
     of £2000 and the possible forfeiture of any vehicle (including aircraft, hovercraft and
     boat) used to commit the offence.

     Regulation 4(4)(a) of the Conservation Regulations gives the appropriate authority the
     power to grant licences for certain purposes, including educational or scientific purposes;
     such licences remove the restrictions of Section 39(1)(a) to (d) for licence holders.
     However, under Regulation 44(3), “The appropriate authority shall not grant a licence
     under this regulation unless they are satisfied - (a) that there is no satisfactory alternative,
     and (b) that the action authorised will not be detrimental to the maintenance of the
     population of the species concerned at a favourable conservation status in their natural
     range”. In Scotland, the ‘appropriate authority’ to issue such licences is Scottish Natural

     As the Regulations specify that licences can only be granted for educational or scientific
     purposes, there is apparently no provision within these Regulations, or the WCA 1981,
     for licensing approved whale watching operations. There are no provisions in the
     Conservation Regulations for the regulation of traffic volume or working areas for
     vessels engaged in whale watching activities (HMSO, 1994).

Dolphin Space Programme                                                            Arnold 1997
     Regulation 28 empowers the relevant authority to make byelaws, subject to confirmation
     by the Secretary of State, for the protection of a European marine site (or Special Area of
     Conservation). However, Regulation 29 states that byelaws cannot interfere with the
     rights of owners and occupiers of land to which the byelaws apply, or the exercise of any
     public right of way. Regulation 36 extends the existing powers of the appropriate nature
     conservation body under the WCA 1981 to make byelaws for the protection of European
     marine sites, again subject to confirmation by the Secretary of State. Although these
     Regulations do not include provisions for whale or dolphin watching, they might provide
     a mechanism to assist in the management of this new industry within the UK; advice is
     being sought from the Scottish Office as to their applicability.

3.   Special Areas of Conservation

     The Habitats Directive makes provision for the establishment of Special Areas of
     Conservation (SACs). In these areas, the feature of interest must be maintained in a
     favourable conservation condition. Management of SACs will be undertaken by a
     management group which will have representation of all competent authorities and other
     interested parties in the area. The inner part of the Moray Firth is a candidate SAC on
     account of the bottlenose dolphins.

4.   Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982

     Dolphin watching boats and other recreational vessels or watercraft are a potential source
     of disturbance to cetaceans. In Scotland, the Civic Government Act includes provisions
     for instating byelaws to control speed and use of pleasure boats (not of other boats)
     which affect the amenity of an area. In particular, Section 121 Part (1) of this Act gives
     Islands and District Councils the powers to “ . . . a. regulate or prohibit any activity by
     way of trade or business with, or in expectation of personal reward from members of the
     public on the seashore (adjacent waters); b. regulate the use of vehicles on the seashore
     (and adjacent waters); c. regulate the exercise of sporting and recreational activities on
     the seashore (and adjacent waters).” The term ‘adjacent waters’ in Section 123 refers to
     sea areas within 1 kilometre of the shore.

     In order for byelaws to be enacted for cetacean protection under this law, a strong case
     would have to be made, firstly that a dolphin watching boat is a type of pleasure boat
     (sometimes referred to in other areas as ‘visitor pleasure boats’), and secondly that the
     amenity of a seashore area is largely dependent upon the quality of the adjacent marine

Dolphin Space Programme                                                        Arnold 1997

“It is important to remember that whales, dolphins and porpoises regularly use sound in their
daily lives, for locating and capturing food, locating and communicating with one another,
detecting predators, and forming a picture of their underwater environment in often very dim
light. Many of the sounds made by craft directly overlap the frequencies used by cetaceans.
Engine noise and sounds generated by seismic activities coincide with those used by baleen
whales, whereas those caused by cavitation of the propeller at high speed, produce loud
broadband, high frequency noise overlapping with those used by toothed whales and
dolphins. All these sounds are likely to cause interference with the daily activities of
cetaceans, and may exclude them from preferred feeding or nursery areas. They can also lead
to undue stress, particularly when mothers are pregnant or with small young. Studies have
shown that whales, dolphins and porpoises frequently respond negatively to craft moving
directly at them; they often change their dive rates and may swim rapidly away from the
sound source.

There is no reason why boats and cetaceans should not be able to co-exist if care is taken to
observe the following code of conduct:

 Do not chase cetaceans or drive a boat directly towards them; wherever possible, let them
  approach you.

 Do not respond to them by changing course or speed in a sudden or erratic manner;
  slowing down as well as stopping suddenly can confuse and even alarm cetaceans as much
  as sudden acceleration.

 Avoid cetaceans with young.

 Do not swim, touch or feed cetaceans, for your safety and theirs.

 Ensure that no more than one boat is within 100 m of cetaceans and no more than 3 boats
  within 1 km of them at any one time.

Note: Further local guidelines may be in place in areas where cetaceans are common, and
these should be adhered to.”

From: Evans, P. G. H. (1995) Guide to the Identification of Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises
in European Seas, Sea Watch Foundation Publication, Oxford.

Dolphin Space Programme                                                        Arnold 1997

If you are a power boat or personal watercraft user, please follow these guidelines when you
see dolphins or porpoises:

 Avoid sudden changes in speed or direction. Slowing down suddenly will confuse and
  scare dolphins or porpoises as much as speeding up.

 Avoid travelling at high speed.

 Look out for groups of dolphins or porpoises and avoid heading straight for them - they
  may not be aware you are there.

 Avoid swimming with, touching or feeding dolphins - for your safety and theirs.
  Remember, they are wild animals.

Bottlenose dolphins and harbour porpoises are protected by law under the Wildlife and
Countryside Act 1981. If you see anyone deliberately harassing dolphins or porpoises, please
inform the police.

                                     Courtesy of Scottish National Heritage, Inverness, 1993.

Dolphin Space Programme                                                      Arnold 1997

Code of Conduct for Wildlife Cruise Operators in the Moray Firth
(Explanatory Version)

Whales, dolphins and porpoises are protected by UK and European legislation. In order to
avoid breaking the law by causing disturbance to these animals, all boat operators should
comply with the following code:

1.   Maintain forward progress at a slow, steady speed throughout a trip.


             The risk of collisions, harassment and noise disturbance is reduced by
              maintaining a steady, slow speed.)

2.   Follow an agreed route within the area of operation without stops or deviations except for
     safety reasons. (A map of agreed routes will be displayed or available for viewing on
     board accredited vessels.)


         Cetaceans are more likely to habituate to predictable boat noise and behaviour.

         Cetaceans may become distressed if they are continually approached or followed by
          boats. This type of disturbance can be reduced if boats adhere to predictable routes,
          rather than choosing courses based only on the location of cetaceans.

         Agreed routes reduce the likelihood of any one boat spending more than a few
          minutes with a group of cetaceans, unless the animals choose to approach the boat
          and/or bowride, and should decrease the number of vessels in the vicinity of the
          same individual or group of cetaceans at any one time.

         Agreed routes can also be planned so that they have intrinsic appeal in themselves,
          offering a range of interesting sights and educational opportunities. This offers
          passengers an experience of the marine environment that will be educational and
          enjoyable, regardless of whether or not cetaceans are seen.

3.   Always slow down gradually to no-wake speed if cetaceans appear directly ahead. Once
     clear of the animals, slowly resume cruising speed. If cetaceans approach the boat or
     bowride, maintain a slow cruising speed.

Dolphin Space Programme                                                        Arnold 1997

         Reduced speeds generate less acoustic disturbance and also allow more time for
          cetaceans to avoid an approaching boat, reducing the chances of collision or injury.

         Cetaceans often form groups for socialising, foraging, reproduction and protection.
          Disturbance which breaks up the groups may separate individuals (for example,
          mothers and calves) and increase their vulnerability. Vessels which maintain a
          predictable direction while slowing to no-wake speed, allow a group of cetaceans
          more time to react to an approaching vessel, reducing the possibility of separating
          or scattering a group.

         When cetaceans choose to approach a boat or bowride, they adapt their movements
          to the speed and direction of the vessel. Maintaining predictable speed and
          direction reduces the risk of accidental collision.)

4.   Limit the duration, route and number of trips in certain areas sensitive to marine traffic,
     such as the Kessock Channel and Chanonry Narrows.


         The Kessock Channel and Chanonry Narrows (see attached map) are 2 areas of the
          Moray Firth in which bottlenose dolphins are particularly vulnerable to the
          potential effects of marine traffic. Some of the factors contributing to the sensitivity
          of these areas are:

          a.   The geographically restricted nature of both channels provides fewer options
               for manoeuvre by the dolphins.

          b.   The shape of these channels may amplify underwater noise; an upper limit on
               the amount of boat-based dolphin watching activity could reduce noise
               disturbance in sensitive areas.

          c.   Bottlenose dolphins and other cetaceans are not distributed evenly throughout
               the Moray Firth. Many individuals appear to favour certain areas. Wildlife
               cruise boats operating in particular areas may encounter only a small section
               of the dolphin population. This pattern would increase the possibility of
               repeated disturbance to the same individuals. A limit to daily dolphin watching
               trips could minimise the risk of disturbance which would result from a
               significant increase in traffic in sensitive areas.

          d.   Both Chanonry Point and the Kessock Channel are recognised as good
               locations for land-based cetacean watching. There is, therefore, potential for
               increased boat traffic to conflict with the interests of others who wish to enjoy
               dolphin watching from the shore.

Dolphin Space Programme                                                          Arnold 1997
         It is recommended that trips in the Kessock Channel and Chanonry Narrows be
          limited overall to 4 per day, shared by operators if there are more than one. Boat
          traffic levels in the Kessock Channel will be monitored so that the situation in this
          area can be assessed.

         Wildlife cruise operators, and drivers of other marine craft, are asked to avoid the
          sensitive areas around Chanonry Narrows and the Kessock Channel for general
          boating activity, except for access to other areas. Boats should pass through at
          constant speed and direction, and as close as possible to the south side of both the
          Kessock Channel and Chanonry Narrows.

5.   Dispose of fuel, oil, litter or other contaminants in the appropriate containers ashore.


         Discharging fuel, oils, chemicals or litter may lead to additional marine pollution.)

6.   For your safety and theirs, do not allow passengers or crew to swim with, touch or feed
     dolphins or other marine mammals.


         The cetaceans in the Moray Firth are self supporting wild animals and do not need
          to be fed. Feeding these animals may alter their behaviour. Swimming with and
          touching cetaceans may be dangerous; infections can also be transmitted between
          humans and cetaceans.)

If you see anyone deliberately harassing cetaceans, please inform the police.

This Code of Conduct and the Accreditation Scheme will be regularly reviewed so that they
accurately reflect the current situation in the Moray Firth.

Dolphin Space Programme                                                          Arnold 1997

1.   Do not alter course to steer directly at a whale or circle around a whale.
     (Explanation: avoid appearing as a threat to the animal.)

2.   Do not suddenly change course or speed in reaction to a sighting or in the presence
     of a whale: Never go into reverse.
     (Explanation: Slowing down or stopping suddenly can confuse the animal as much as
     speeding up. The animal needs to be able to monitor your position. Also, there may be
     other whales in the vicinity that you are not aware of.)

3.   Avoid getting close to whales with small young.
     (Explanation: Calves are more naive than older animals and may not perceive a boat
     and its propeller as a potential threat. Whales are more likely to feel threatened when
     they have young.)

4.   Ensure that not more than 3 boats are within 1 km of a whale.
     (Explanation: More boats are more likely to harass an animal. The whale is less likely
     to avoid them all.)

5.   After first sighting a whale, limit your speed to a no-wake speed and never more than 5
     (Explanation: Lower speeds generate less noise disturbance, boats get particularly
     noisy when you push them towards their hull speed. Lower speeds give more time for a
     whale to avoid the boat.)

6.   Remain more than 200 m from the whale unless the whale chooses to approach you.
     (Explanation: A whale may be feeding in a very specific area and your approach may
     disrupt its feeding.)

7.   Do not repeatedly approach whales which are obviously shy of boats.
     (Explanation: Individual whales react differently to boats. You are unlikely to be able to
     approach a whale which is shy of the boat.)

First Draft 5.8.92: Sea Life Cruises

Developed with advice from Vassili Papastavrou, Marine Education and Research Ltd.,

Dolphin Space Programme                                                           Arnold 1997

The operators of this dolphin watch vessel follow these guidelines when dolphins or
porpoises are seen:

 Avoid sudden changes in speed or direction. Slowing down suddenly will confuse and
  scare dolphins or porpoises as much as speeding up.

 Avoid travelling at high speed.

 Look out for groups of dolphins or porpoises and avoid heading straight for them - they
  may not be aware of the vessel’s presence.

 Discourage swimming with, touching or feeding dolphins - for your safety and theirs.
  Remember, these are wild animals.

                             Courtesy of Shannon Development, Tourism Head Office, Eire.

Dolphin Space Programme                                                     Arnold 1997

It is recommended that passengers are given a short pre-cruise commentary before the boat
departs or as the trip commences. This only takes 3-5 minutes and will add to passenger
comfort and enjoyment as well as supplementing any posters, facts sheets or other written
information available on board.

1.   Introductions

         Welcome visitors to the area and your vessel
         Introduce yourself (commentator), skipper and other crew; indicate which crew
          members are available to answer questions
         Describe cruise vessel, particularly if it has an interesting or unusual history

2.   Passenger Safety and Comfort

         Location and use of lifejackets (distribute to children/adults as required)
         Availability and location of on board toilet facilities
         Availability and location of on board food and drink
         Location of litter bins on board
         Access to and location of areas on the vessel open to visitors
         Safety messages regarding watching children, staying inside safety railings, etc.
         Mention licence held (such as MSA, local council, etc as appropriate) and passenger

3.   Cruise Route and Main Features

         A brief outline of the forthcoming cruise, its proposed duration, route, main wildlife
          and scenic features

         Onboard location of further information about the area, its wildlife, history, such as
          posters, leaflets, books, charts, etc.

4.   Wildlife Watching Methods and Codes

         Hints on how to look for birds, cetaceans, etc. and which key features facilitate
          identification (eg. use binoculars to check for detail or occasional scan, not to stare
          through constantly).

         Advantages of keeping noise and movement to a minimum when in the vicinity of

Dolphin Space Programme                                                           Arnold 1997
         If the vessel is accredited and/or follows a code of conduct, briefly describe the main
          features of the code and how this affects the method of operating the cruise (eg.
          cetaceans will not be intentionally approached or chased; approach to seabird
          breeding sites and seal haul-outs will be avoided, etc.). Indicate where a copy of the
          full code is posted onboard.

         Mention participation in wildlife recording schemes and how visitors’ observations
          can assist such recording.

During the trip, give accurate and interesting information about the scenery, wildlife,
social history and other features as appropriate. Don’t forget, a trip on your boat may be a
visitor’s first and only experience of an area and its wildlife - you can make it unforgettable!
Bon voyage!

Dolphin Space Programme                                                         Arnold 1997


 If possible, initiate the development and promotion of a code of conduct before the volume
  and behaviour of local wildlife cruises becomes a potential problem to cetaceans in the

 Hold a public meeting to discuss the issues of disturbance to marine mammals from
  wildlife tourism, the benefits of good practice, quality assurance programmes, and
  sustainable development, and to elicit local reaction to establishing a Code of Conduct and
  Accreditation Scheme. Ensure that all boat operators, local authorities and interest groups
  are invited.

 It is essential to the success of a quality assurance scheme to have the full and active
  support of local tourism and development authorities, and their agreement to promote only
  businesses that subscribe to the scheme.

 Discuss in detail with individual commercial boat operators the proposed guidelines to be
  incorporated in a code of conduct, and the benefits of good practice and quality assurance
  to the development of a sustainable wildlife tourism industry. The support and active co-
  operation of local boat operators is vital to the success of any code or quality assurance
  scheme. It is important that the conservation benefits and business sustainability aspects
  of good practice are stressed, as well as the marketing advantages of belonging to a quality
  assurance scheme.

 Incorporating knowledge about local conditions, the species involved, recommendations
  based on the latest research, and nationally accepted guidelines, develop a Code of
  Conduct aimed at reducing potential disturbance to cetaceans from boat-based wildlife
  watching activities.

 Once the Code of Conduct and criteria for accreditation are agreed, promote the rationale
  for the code and its guidelines widely throughout the tourism and travel industries, and
  through local tourist information centres and visitor attractions.

 Train boat operators and their staff to become qualified wildlife guides to ensure that the
  information given during cruises is accurate and up-to-date, and that the trip is enjoyable
  whether or not cetaceans are encountered. The cruise and its commentary should stress
  aspects of the wider marine and coastal environment, rather than targeting individual

Dolphin Space Programme                                                       Arnold 1997
 Encourage boat operators to form their own association as a promotional tool, to ensure
  quality standards in their industry, and to guarantee that their interests are represented in
  the development of tourism and conservation strategies.

Dolphin Space Programme                                                          Arnold 1997
 To complement an Accreditation Scheme for commercial wildlife cruise operators, assess
  the extent of recreational boating activity in the area and its potential to adversely affect
  the status, behaviour and distribution of cetacean populations. If appropriate, develop and
  implement a code of conduct for recreational vessels.

 Encourage observation of wildlife through a variety of means, eg. land as well as sea-based
  watching and, if possible, use remote watching and listening facilities such as telescopes,
  hydrophones, etc.

 Conduct a series of talks to local groups, schools and the public about cetaceans, the
  marine environment and related issues.


 Monitor both the impact of the Accreditation Scheme (awareness of the code, adherence,
  etc.) as well as reactions of cetaceans to the proximity of vessels. Support research into
  the effects of interactions between cetaceans and boats, and monitoring of cetacean
  populations in the areas affected by cetacean watching.

 Form a network of local volunteers. This group can assist with public awareness
  campaigns, beach clean-ups, monitoring of boat traffic volume and behaviour, recording
  cetacean sightings and other marine conservation initiatives.


 Create mechanisms to enforce the code and quality standards of an Accreditation Scheme.
  This could include a quality inspection system, unannounced visits, public reporting and
  complaints procedure. Withdrawal of accreditation and promotional facilities could prove
  to be effective sanctions for not adhering to the code and other criteria for accreditation.

 Co-ordinate enforcement strategies with local interest groups, wardens and wildlife rangers
  who are also in a position to educate the public about marine wildlife and related issues.


 Assess current cetacean protection voluntary control initiatives and statutory legislation
  and their effectiveness in regulating commercial and recreational boating activities in areas
  frequented by cetaceans. If voluntary methods or existing legislation are inadequate to
  control an expected increase in cetacean watching and boat traffic volume, then begin the
  process of updating or initiating regulations which incorporate recognised codes of
  conduct. Consider the suitability of a permit system for commercial wildlife cruise
  ventures to regulate cetacean watching activities in a more equitable manner. A licensing
  system could also be extended to include permits allowing researchers, photographers and
  film-makers to work in proximity to cetaceans under certain conditions.

Dolphin Space Programme                                                        Arnold 1997

The following recommendations are based upon the results of Aberdeen University's research
into the ecology of the Moray Firth bottlenose dolphin population, the Interim Code of
Conduct and Guidelines for Dolphin Watching Boats in the Moray Firth suggested by SNH in
1994, as well as guidelines and regulations used in other parts of the world. Most of the
established Codes of Practice are formulated for whale watching. Such codes set minimum
distances between boats and animals, maximum number of boats within specific distances of
cetaceans, and maximum contact times. However, dolphin behaviour is unpredictable.
Estimates of distances and speeds over water vary between individual spectators and often
depend on the location of the observer. A number of the Moray Firth dolphins frequent some
areas within the Firth more than others, and therefore may be particularly vulnerable to the
impacts of disturbance from intensive boat-based dolphin watching activity in these areas.
The geographically restricted narrows at Chanonry and the Kessock Channel are two such
‘sensitive’ areas.

During consultations in 1994 on the proposed Accreditation Scheme, it was suggested that all
dolphin watching boat traffic might be banned in these narrows. However, such ‘closed
areas’ may interfere with the right of access to normal boat traffic and such restrictions may
be seen as unfair by those already operating in these areas. Banning boat-based dolphin
watching in certain places does not reduce disturbance in other areas, and might encourage
increased disturbance elsewhere.

This draft report has considered the current” Interim Code of Conduct and Guidelines for
Dolphin Watching Boats” and suggests that regulatory measures need to take a more direct
approach aimed at the specific circumstances in certain areas of the Moray Firth. A major
drawback of the current code is that it is impossible to police or monitor, as much of what
occurs during an encounter depends on the dolphins’ behaviour. The report stressed that any
Code of Conduct must be clear enough for non-compliance to be illustrated in a Court of
Law. For points 1-5 in the Interim Guidelines, this is not possible. The report therefore does
not favour designating certain areas closed to dolphin watching boats. An alternative
approach is recommended which would provide tight control on the presence of commercial
boats in sensitive areas, serve to reduce the risk of collisions, and minimise disturbance
throughout the dolphins’ range.

The alternative proposal was influenced by observations from researchers in the Kessock
Channel area in 1994 who recorded up to 8 trips a day made by one dolphin watching boat.
Systematic records of dive times indicated that the dolphins’ behaviour was virtually
unaffected by routine boat traffic passing through the Channel. However, there was a
significant reduction in surfacings after the animals were approached by a dolphin watching
boat. Cetaceans in other parts of the world have also been noted to increase their dive times
Dolphin Space Programme                                                       Arnold 1997
in response to an approaching boat. The recommendations made by Aberdeen University
have therefore been based on the hypothesis that impacts on the dolphin population will be
minimised if:

        1. Commercial dolphin watching boats behave in a similar manner
           to routine traffic in the Moray Firth.

        2. Commercial dolphin watching trips do not increase to a level where
           they represent a significant increase in routine boat traffic,
           particularly in sensitive areas.

The preferred option for the Moray Firth Accreditation Scheme is based on the concept of
boats following predictable routes at a standard speed. The suggested guidelines are as

1.      Accredited boat operators would follow an agreed route. This should also contain
        other interesting aspects of the Firth and the wider marine environment and not be
        solely guided by looking for dolphins.

2.      The trip along the agreed route would be made on an agreed number of times per day
        or week.

3.      Once on that route, boats would not deviate from their course, except for reasons of

4.      A constant speed would be maintained during the trip, except when the boat was
        approaching a group of dolphins.

5.      When approaching dolphins on their agreed route, boats would gradually slow down
        to a no-wake speed. They would not stop or alter course.

In conjunction with this preferred option, the Aberdeen University report recommends that all
skippers employed by accredited boat operators should receive training for operating boats
around dolphins. There would then be an approved list of drivers who had completed this
training. Drivers and/or crew should also be given training in interpretation skills. The many
advantages over alternative schemes deployed in other areas include:

 This would be an equitable system imposing equal constraints on all accredited operators.
  Passengers would also know that all boats would be operating in the same manner. The
  chances of seeing or approaching dolphins then depends totally on the dolphins’

 This scheme would not be subject to operators judging distance to the animals or
  interpreting dolphins’ behaviour.

Dolphin Space Programme                                                       Arnold 1997
 The risk of collision would be reduced by the predictable sound and behaviour of the
  boats. The dolphins would be more likely to habituate to such predictable boat noise and
  behaviour than to current patterns.

    Predictable routes can be agreed so that they have intrinsic interest in themselves,
     offering a range of interesting sights and educational opportunities. This offers
     passengers a fuller experience of the marine environment which will be educational and
     enjoyable, regardless of whether or not cetaceans are seen.

 The use of predictable routes facilitates effective monitoring of the scheme. Boat
  behaviour could in future be policed using a variety of remote means, including
  transponders mounted on each boat. Such devices would assist monitoring by recording
  deviations from the route, stopping, speeding or other transgressions of the scheme.

There is no stringent scientific evidence on which to calculate the maximum number of boats
which should operate in different areas of the Moray Firth. However, it is recommended that
the number of boat operators be capped at the 1994 level and that trips in the Kessock
Channel and Chanonry Narrows be limited overall to 4 per day, shared by operators if there
are more than one. Boat routes and cruising speeds of between 5-8 knots can be agreed with
each operator individually as boat speeds and routes will be dependent on the location of the
working area and the optimum speed and timing of the trip.

(Curran, et al, 1995)

Dolphin Space Programme                                                      Arnold 1997
                          THE MINCH PROJECT

The Minch Project was established in 1993 and has grown to include partners from
Comhairle nan Eilean, Highland Region Council, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Tourist
Board and five Local Enterprise Companies that border the Minch. The Partnership was
drawn together to address concerns that the marine and coastal environment of the Minch
area has been coming under increasing pressure from a range of activities and that the
position has been exacerbated by the lack of an integrated approach to the management of the

The overall aim of the Minch Project is to promote a more sustainable approach to the use of
environmental resources in this area in order to safeguard environmental quality, thereby
maintaining and enhancing employment and income generating opportunities for local
residents. The Minch Project is directed by a Steering group comprised of the core funding

The Minch region as defined under the Project runs from Cape Wrath to Ardnamurchan Point
encircling the Western Isles to the limit of territorial waters.

The above aim is by its nature a long-term goal and in working towards its fulfilment a wide
range of activities will be initiated. The body of work carried out through the Minch Project
will therefore employ a number of different approaches including:

 working in collaboration with a range of organisations, voluntary groups and individuals;
 raising awareness and securing local commitment;
 examining individual issues that have arisen or that are developing through commissioning
  research and discussions to allow possible solutions to be identified;
 identifying and developing new prospects for sustainable use of the Minch area;
 increasing awareness and understanding of coastal and marine environments and natural
  and human processes within the Minch region.

Project Development

The initial stages of the project concentrated on research and planning. This resulted in the
publication of the Minch Review (November 1994) which identified key issues requiring
further development. These recommendations were carried out through a series of
demonstration projects and resulted in the publication of three major reports:

Dolphin Space Programme                                                        Arnold 1997
1.      Littoral Seaweed Resource Assessment and Management in the Western Isles
        (March 1995).
2.      Wildlife Tourism in the Minch (June 1995).
3.      Survey of Coastal Erosion in the Western Isles (October 1995).

The Project also commissioned a study on marine awareness and interpretation for the Minch
area to help select the most appropriate route for development in this region.



Dolphin Space Programme                                                   Arnold 1997
        A Report for Scottish Wildlife Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage
                    and the EU LIFE Programme

                            by Holly Arnold

                                                                       March 1997

Dolphin Space Programme                                            Arnold 1997

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