Kate Fortnam, The Green Blue Campaign Manager.
The Green Blue’s new educational awareness campaign has got off to a flying start.
The Green Blue’s new educational awareness campaign started in September 2017 with a focus on raising awareness of the UK’s Marine Protected Areas amongst the recreational boating community. It works to provide support and advice in adopting best practice to minimise any impacts that boating activities might have on marine wildlife and habitats.
Designated to protect habitats and species from damage, MPA is a generic term and includes different types of legal protection such as Marine Conservation Zones, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Special Protection Areas.
Seeing marine wildlife is always a thrill and the developing network of MPAs around the UK features an amazing array of creatures. Many areas have been protected for some time and remain accessible to boaters, such as Skomer Island with its rich marine life and seabird colonies, first protected in 1990.
MPAs exist around most of the UK’s coastal waters, so it is important that the recreational boating sector seeks to have more understanding of the species and habitats protected in the areas we undertake our boating activities. Through knowledge of wildlife behaviour and the areas where marine birds and mammal species breed, feed and rest, boaters will become more aware of how to minimise disturbance when out on the water.
Disturbance can be caused by noise, proximity, wake and erratic movements and many species are protected by legislation that makes deliberate disturbance an offence. To help safeguard our marine waters and the wildlife we share our boating environment with, follow these simple top tips:
- Find out more about the area you are boating in. Contact the local harbour authority or Wildlife Trust for local advice and marine codes. They can offer a wealth of information about species you might see and any local protections you need to be aware of.
- Think about speed; always be steady, predictable, quiet and cautious around marine wildlife. This applies whether you spot something in the distance, whether something pops on the port side or whether your passage takes you by seals hauled out on rocks or colonies of roosting birds on the cliffs.
To help raise awareness of our MPAs and the best practice we can all adopt, The Green Blue has been working closely with recreational boating stakeholders, wildlife organisations, government bodies and management partnerships.
This has led to the development of a variety of informative guides such as The Green Guide to Coastal Boating and The Green Wildlife Guide for Boaters, which cover a variety of top tips to help boaters prevent pollution and enjoy marine wildlife whilst minimising disturbance.
There are also resources available to RYA instructors to help pass on environmental best practice to their students during courses. These include The Green Blue’s Coastal Instructor Pocket Cards and Sustainable Boating Activity Cards.
Support has also been provided by The Green Blue to boating associations, clubs, centres and businesses in identifying ways they can raise awareness of MPAs and best practice amongst members, visitors and customers through their website, newsletters, member talks and The Green Blue’s informative posters and guides.
Many boating venues and events are striving to ensure they have the facilities in place to enable their members to be more environmentally sustainable. Simple measures can make a huge difference, such as providing recycling bins, avoiding single use plastics, ensuring there is a spill kit available to clean up accidental oil or fuel spills, providing and encouraging the use of antifoul ground sheets to capture paint drips and scrapings to dispose of in hazardous waste bins, planning race courses that are away from more environmentally sensitive areas, as well as setting up a washdown area where boats, trailers and equipment can be washed to remove harmful invasive plant and animal species.
Kate Fortnam, The Green Blue Campaign Manager, said: “Recreational boaters are passionate about the environment they live, work and spend most of their leisure time in. We are keen to show and build upon the positive steps clubs, centres, marinas and other businesses and organisations are already taking to minimise any impacts they may have on their marine environment – and to help them to build upon this to work towards making boating even more sustainable.”
To find out more about the work of The Green Blue visit www.thegreenblue.org.uk