Frequently asked questions
How does the Special Area of Conservation (SAC) protect the dolphins?
An SAC is a protected area or a ‘sanctuary’ put in place through UK law, to meet the requirements of European legislation for certain designated species and habitats and, in this case, specifically to protect these dolphins. The purpose of such a sanctuary is to ensure that the distribution and extent of habitats supporting bottlenose dolphins are maintained in the long term, including no significant disturbance of the species.
WDCS considers that every individual is important and also that impacts on the individual will be significant to the conservation of the population as a whole.
Activities do not have to be in close proximity to the dolphins to be of significant concern. For example sounds travel long distances underwater. However, effects created at distance are very difficult to observe and to monitor. Further, it is difficult to demonstrate that impacts are caused by one particular source or industry when the threats faced are numerous. It’s therefore important that cumulative impacts are considered.
Why is oil and gas exploration such a threat?
Whilst difficult to monitor and to measure, the combination of increased vessel activity, placement of various rigs, drilling and the associated installations such as pipelines, discharges of produced waste to sea and then decommissioning,to say nothing for the potential for oil spills, all add to the long term cumulative impact of the site. The intense, loud noise used in oil and gas exploration and in decommissioning could also drive dolphins away from their core habitat.