Five sea areas off England, Wales and Northern Ireland could be designated under European legislation to protect harbour porpoises. They include a large area of Cardigan Bay off the west coast of Wales, part of the Bristol Channel and a portion of the North Sea. But the Scottish government has not moved forward with its own consultation process on a number of hotspots for porpoises, including around the Southern Hebrides and the Moray Firth.
Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) said this would “undermine the whole UK process and the achievement of an ecologically coherent network of Marine Protected Areas”. The species is the smallest and most widely distributed cetacean in Europe. A survey 20 years ago estimated the North Sea population at 280,000, but they have declined in, or disappeared from, more southerly areas such as the English Channel.