Kate Fortnam, The Green Blue Campaign Manager
To mark The Green Blue’s Boating Wildlife Awareness Week 2019, along with World Environment Day and World Oceans Day, The Green Blue is reminding recreational boaters how to get the best experience out of their wildlife encounters by acting responsibly and cautiously to minimise the risk of disturbance while keeping participants and their boats safe.
World Environment Day (5 June) and World Oceans Day (8 June) will both take place during The Green Blue’s week-long awareness campaign, that seeks to remind boaters of our shared duty to protect wildlife we share our waters and shorelines with.
All types of watercraft have the potential to cause disturbance in the marine environment, so The Green Blue is offering boaters three simple steps they can take to keep disturbance to a minimum.
Three simple steps
- See: Can you spot something in the distance or is an inquisitive creature coming to get a closer look at you?
- Evaluate: How many are there, how far away, are they moving towards or away from you, are there any mothers and young?
- Act: Think speed, be steady, predictable, quiet and cautious.
Campaign Manager for The Green Blue, Kate Fortnam, says: “There is a wealth of wildlife for you to see and enjoy throughout the British Isles and off our extensive coastline, but a lot of these animals are vulnerable to disturbance if not approached in a responsible way that respects them and the habitats we all rely on to survive.
“We share the waters we use for our recreation with a wide range of birds, fish and cetaceans but the presence of boats should not necessarily have to mean disturbance to the local wildlife.
“It is perfectly safe and lawful to view marine wildlife by adopting a few simple measures – acting responsibly and cautiously to minimise the risk of disturbance is always the safest course of action.
“If craft are handled with sensitivity there can be minimal or zero disturbance. Zoning of sensitive areas, speed restrictions, awareness of seasonal and geographical sensitivities and education can all been used to mitigate the impact of boat use on wildlife.”
Why celebrate our oceans?
A healthy world environment is critical to our survival. Every year, World Environment Day and World Oceans Day provide opportunities to celebrate, help protect and conserve our world’s shared environment and oceans. These are important because they:
- Generate most of the oxygen we breathe
- Help feed us
- Regulate our climate
- Clean the water we drink
- Offer an extensive stock of medicines
- Provide limitless inspiration!
The Green Blue is encouraging all RYA Affiliated Clubs and Recognised Training Centres to participate in a World Oceans Day event or activity and help protect the ocean for the future.
Kate adds: “Whether you live inland or on the coast, we are all connected in some way to the ocean. Take the time to think about how the ocean affects you, and how you affect the ocean, and then organise or participate in activities that celebrate our ocean.
“By taking care of your backyard and helping in your community, you are acting as a caretaker of our environment. Making small modifications to your everyday habits will make a difference, and involving your family, friends and community will benefit our blue planet even more!”
For information on how to enjoy the wildlife you see whilst out boating and steps you can take to minimise your impact on it, see The Green Wildlife Guide for Boaters, or look on The Green Blue website. The Marine Management Organisation has also written guidance about marine wildlife disturbance.
In addition, by following The Green Blue guidance on related topics such as waste management, oil spill management and boat cleaning and maintenance, boat users can further reduce their impact on wildlife.
Follow @TheGreenBlue, @WorldOceansDay and @UNEnvironment on social media and be sure to tag #WorldOceansDay and #BoatingWildlifeAware to help spread the word.