Notice to boat owners off Co Wexford

28th Jan 2010 The IWDG would like to ask all boat owners planning to try and see the humpback whale off Co Wexford this weekend to be aware of Marine Notice 15/2005 and respect the whale.

Marine Notice 15 of 2005 "GUIDELINES FOR CORRECT PROCEDURES WHEN ENCOUNTERING WHALES AND DOLPHINS IN IRISH COASTAL WATERS" was issused by the Marine Safety Directorate. It is supported by a Statutory Instrument and is legally binding. All commercial and recreational operators are requested to read the notice summarised below and adopt these procedures.

We all want to ensure the whale stays off Wexford for as long as possible and returns over the coming years. The best way to achieve this is to avoid any excessive disturbance and respect the whale and its feeding requirements.

The following guidelines are intended to offer best practice to be followed in cases of any interaction between small craft and large mammals within Irish waters:

• When whales or dolphins are first encountered, craft should maintain a steady course.

• Boat speed should be maintained below 7 knots.

• Do not attempt to pursue whales or dolphins encountered.

• In the case of dolphins, they will very often approach craft and may engage in “bow riding”. Always allow dolphins approach a boat rather than attempt to go after them.

• Maintain a distance of at least 100m from whales.

• Maintain a distance of 200m between any other boats in the vicinity.

• Attempt to steer a course parallel to the direction whales or dolphins are taking.

• Do not corral whales or dolphins between boats.

• Special care must be taken when young calves are seen - do not come between a mother and her calf.

• Successive boats must follow the same course.

• Boats should not spend more than 30 minutes with whales or dolphins.

• DO NOT attempt to swim with them.

Craft that do encounter any species are encouraged to log all sightings and to advise the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) or officers of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, which is a division of the Department of Environment Heritage, and Local Government.

The full notice is available on the website: www.iwdg.ie/downloads.asp

Dr Simon Berrow

IWDG Co-ordinator