British Divers Marine Life Rescue
British Divers Marine Life Rescue (photo: Steve Marsh)
British Divers Marine Rescue

News

2014-01-28 09:36:19

Groups join together to praise Police investigation into dolphin killing

British Divers Marine Life Rescue have joined with other groups to praise the police investigation into the killing by pleasure boats of a dolphin in the Camel Estuary in Cornwall on July 20th last year.
Please see below for combined press releases on this incident.


Police Press Release
Wildlife Crime Officers from the Marine and Coastal Policing Team in North Cornwall have recently concluded the investigation surrounding the death of a juvenile bottlenose dolphin in the Camel Estuary near Padstow and Rock that occurred on Saturday 20th July 2013.

The circumstances leading to the death of the dolphin were determined whereby between 1.30 pm and 4.45 pm the pod of inshore bottlenose dolphins were followed by private leisure vessels numbering up to twenty-five at any one time.  These vessels remained with the dolphins for a varying period of time before leaving whilst other boats joined the flotilla providing a regular turn-over of vessels during the three and one quarter hour period of time.

Police, with the assistance of the Padstow Harbour Master and staff, secured evidence in the form of video footage, photographs and witness statements detailing these events whereby a high number of vessels encircled the pod and remained within twenty yards of them whilst other vessels drove through the pod at speed.

The investigating officer PC Allerton-Baldwin said, “It is perfectly safe and lawful to view marine wildlife by adopting a few simple measures such as taking up an initial position no less than 200 metres from the animals, maintaining course and speed and being one of no more than three boats present.”

Two skippers of these vessels were identified by Police, interviewed and admitted reckless disturbance of the dolphins, an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 which carries a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment and/ or a £5000 fine.

PC Allerton-Baldwin said, “There is no evidence that anybody went out on that day with the intention of contributing to the death of a dolphin.  On the contrary, the two individuals interviewed clearly acted out of ignorance of the law and whilst that may be the case, ignorance of the law is no defence.”

The two skippers were dealt with by the Police by way of ‘Restorative Justice’ a scheme whereby once the offence is admitted an undertaking to complete some form of restoration is given, in this case both will complete the Wildlife Safe (WiSe) course which teaches boat users how to view marine wildlife safely, responsibly and within the law.  The offenders’ details are also recorded by police and will be taken into consideration should any future offence be committed.

PC Allerton-Baldwin said, “Legislation exists to protect this wildlife and where evidence of an offence exists the police will investigate.  However, we also have a responsibility to prevent crime and hope this particular case will serve to raise awareness not only of the legislation but also of the perhaps unforeseen outcome should offences be committed, in this case the death of a rare dolphin in British waters.”

British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) Press release
Following the successful identification of skippers of two boats involved in the  disturbance of a pod of Bottlenose dolphins in the Camel Estuary on July 20th 2013, British Divers Marine Life Rescue, a charity that rescues marine mammals around the UK and works closely with the police regarding wildlife crime, have commended the Marine and Coastal Policing Team in North Cornwall for carrying out a full investigation into the killing.

Operations Manager Stephen Marsh commented, “We would like to thank the North Cornwall Marine and Coastal Policing Team for their diligence and determination to conclude this investigation successfully and also the members of public who were able to assist.

"Whilst we are pleased that the perpetrators of this sad incident have been dealt with, it could have been avoided if all the boaters in the area had stayed well away from the animals and observed them at a safe distance. Hopefully the result from the police operation will serve as a reminder to all that wildlife crime is taken seriously and also that disturbance of dolphins is not only illegal, but can have severe consequences.”

Cornwall Wildlife Trust (CWT) press release
Cornwall Wildlife Trust is celebrating the results of the police investigation which will lead to a greater awareness amongst the public about our rare bottlenose dolphins and better protection for these special animals in our Cornish waters.

It has been announced that the police have successfully dealt with the skippers of two boats responsible for reckless disturbance of a pod of Bottlenose dolphins back in the summer of 2013, a great result for marine conservation and marine life in Cornwall. By way of ‘Restorative Justice’, the offenders will complete the Wildlife Safe (WiSe) course which teaches boat users how to view marine wildlife safely, responsibly and within the law.

Inshore bottlenose dolphins are rare and special animals living off our coast, being sub species of off shore pods and living entirely within our south west coastal zone. Although more research on the population needs to be done, conservative estimates imply that only 8-12 individuals are left. Therefore even just one loss to this pod will have a dramatic impact on the inshore populations.  The sad and avoidable incident happened near Padstow resulting in the tragic death of a young bottlenose dolphin was not only a disaster for the conservation of this rare and special animal, but the death of this young dolphin will have been incredibly traumatic for the mother and the rest of the family in an intelligent species that has very close family ties, very like humans.

Abby Crosby, Marine Conservation Officer for Cornwall Wildlife Trust, says "We are delighted that the investigation has lead to this result .Marine disturbance is a serious issue in our coastal waters, therefore it is important that all people using any vessel on the sea familiarise themselves with our marine Code of Conduct and adhere to it to make sure we can still enjoy watching these beautiful animals whilst protecting them at the same time.’"

To tackle the important issue of marine disturbance, Cornwall’s leading environmental organisations have joined forces to create a Coastal Code Group detailing a much needed Coastal Code of Conduct to help guide the public towards a safer future for our marine and coastal wildlife.

Cornwall Wildlife Trust, RSPB, Cornwall Seal Group, Cornwall Council, National Trust, Marine Stranding Network and the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), Devon and Cornwall Police Marine & Coastal Policing Team/ Wildlife Crime Group, the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and Natural England have set up the Marine Disturbance 24 hour Hotline on 0345 2012626, which enables anyone visiting the coastline to report disturbance incidents.

In addition, the Group have also developed Coastal Code of Conduct web pages (www.cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk/coastalcode) with information on how to enjoy the coast and yet protect the wildlife that exists there at the same time.

Dive Master Insurance press release
Bob Archell, Managain Director of Dive Master Insurance said “When we heard about the irresponsible behaviour by boaters in the Camel Estuary harassing this rare pod of coastal bottlenose dolphins, we felt compelled to support Devon and Cornwall Police in their efforts to prosecute the offenders.

"We joined with the Sea Shepherd UK organisation in offering a joint reward for arrest and conviction for this appalling wildlife crime. As offenders have now been dealt with under the 'Restorative Justice' scheme, we have decided to donate the reward we offered to bolster local resources in the form of the Cornwall Wildlife Trust Coastal Code Group, that will provide future protection to marine life in the Camel Estuary.

"We take this opportunity to thank the Devon and Cornwall Police for their tenacity in pursuing this crime, and we also thank Sea Shepherd UK for its speed in establishing a reward to which we pledged our support.”

Sea Shepherd UK comment
Rob Read, the Chief Operations Officer for Sea Shepherd UK says "Sea Shepherd UK is pleased to grant £1000 to the Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Coastal Code Group to help fund their 'disturbance project'. Sea Shepherd UK hopes that this project will ensure that more boat owners keep a respectful and safe distance in future from both migratory and resident cetaceans and all our legally protected marine wildlife."

Cornwall Seal Group (CSG) Press release
Sue Sayer, CSG Chair commented "As a partner organisation researching and representing another iconic marine mammal in Cornish waters, Cornwall Seal Group welcomes the actions taken by our local wildlife crime officers. Cornwall’s marine life makes an important contribution to the package that attracts people to Cornwall supporting the tourist economy upon which many residents rely.

"The more our research is telling us about the secret lives of individual marine mammals, the more we realise just how amazing they are. Dolphins are not the only marine mammals known to suffer as a result of collisions with boats, not all of which are immediately fatal but result in considerable suffering for the animals involved. It is reassuring to know that those responsible for causing this are brought to justice."

Marine Managament Organistaion (MMO) comment
Head of Marine Conservation and Enforcement at the MMO, Michael Coyle, said; “The MMO works with and supports the police in cases such as these to help protect marine species.

"It’s really important people are aware of the rules and best practice relating to disturbance of protected species. Further details of these are on our website and we would urge boat owners to make themselves fully aware of these restrictions to avoid causing further distress to dolphins and other species."


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Stephen Marsh
BDMLR Operations Manager