Mid Wales

Boating plan will protect Ceredigion marine life

Seal (Pic: Janet Baxter)
Image caption Ceredigion sea-goers are requested not to disturb seals in the pupping season

Dolphins and seals are among the marine life set to be protected under a recreational boating plan approved in Ceredigion.

The plan sets out ways in which important species, including bottlenose dolphins, and sea users can co-exist.

Ceredigion's waters are recognised as among the finest in Europe, with the continent's largest population of bottlenose dolphins.

The move by Ceredigion council follows a major public consultation.

The plan is based on a code of conduct, which involves boat skippers and has been in operation since the Ceredigion Marine Heritage Coast was established in 1991.

The plan creates speed zones along the coast and asks kayakers and coasteerers not to enter sea caves during the seal pupping season.

Ben Sampson of Ceredigion council's conservation team runs boat patrols during the summer to raise awareness of the wildlife and to promote the Ceredigion Code of Conduct for Recreational Boating.

"Almost everyone I talk to at sea cares deeply about the marine environment and the wonderful wildlife we have in our seas," he said.

"There is sometimes a lack of awareness of what to do when people encounter dolphins and other wildlife at sea, but there is a strong desire to do the right thing.

"The code of conduct is all about providing that information and ensuring that generations to come can enjoy these spectacular animals."

Image caption The boating plan affects boats moored in Aberaeron

Conservation management officer Liz Allan said: "We have now updated our information to incorporate the latest research to help boating and wildlife co-exist.

"The plan identifies certain areas as being particularly important for dolphins, and boaters are being asked to take particular care in those areas.

"Advisory eight knot speed zones have been created along the coast from Cardigan Island to Cribach Bay and the existing speed zone has been extended from New Quay to reach Llangrannog, rather than finishing at Ynys Lochtyn.

"Other amendments include a request to avoid entering sea caves during the seal pupping season from August to October - an increasing problem with the growing popularity of sea kayaking and coasteering."

New information panels have been placed at all launch sites in Ceredigion and laminated versions are available to boaters.

It can also be downloaded from the council's website.

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