What are the threats?
- Noise pollution: Vessel activity increases levels of underwater noise. This may disrupt the ability of marine mammals to communicate, navigate and hunt prey.
- Disturbance: Boat activity close to dolphins and seals may result in animals ceasing their current activity and moving away. If disturbance is persistent this can affect the animal’s energy budget and in the long term result in reduced health and/or displacement.
- Collision: Increases in boat activity and reckless speeding may result in inadvertent collision.
What have we been doing?
The Ceredigion Recreational Boat Users’ Code of Conduct introduced in 1992 continues to be the main tool for managing boating activity within the SAC. The 2001 Management Scheme identified the need to provide interpretation and education that would generate interest, appreciation and a commitment to conserve the features of the SAC.The Code has been distributed to all mooring holders and visitors launching at harbours and information panels about the code and the SAC have been sited at launching sites.
In 2006, the Council opened a new information centre at the Cardigan Bay Boat Place in New Quay for skippers and people wishing to get out on a boat.
The Council’s ‘Dolphin Watch’ study involving local volunteers continues to take place every summer, and in recent years the local organisations of the Wildlife Trust for South and West Wales, Seawatch Foundation, Friends of Cardigan Bay and the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre have helped to extend the number of shore-based monitoring sites. The study has been recording dolphin and boat activity for 14 years and has been monitoring compliance with the Code. Recent data analysis provided positive results and has shown that overall compliance with the Code is good, particularly amongst the wildlife trip operators, but further work still needs to be done with power boat users.
What are we going to do?
We intend continuing with this type of education and monitoring work. We also want to attract funding to employ a Water Ranger to assist us in this, and help with regulation when required. We would also like to do more work in speaking with local boat clubs and harbour users to identify areas where zoning of activities might be helpful and where further management/information may be needed.
We continue to believe that the more people know and understand about the wildlife in the Bay, the more they will want to help to protect it. We are fortunate to have such special marine wildlife and many visitors are attracted to the area as a result. We believe that with proper management in place there should be no reason why recreational boating and marine mammal activity can’t co-exist happily.