DSP Codes of Conduct
There are currently two DSP codes of conduct for wildlife tour operators in the Moray Firth - one for the inner firth area and another for the outer firth area. The reason for this is that the inner Moray Firth is a more enclosed area and is subject to higher volumes of vessel traffic than the outer Moray Firth. The use of the inner Moray Firth by bottlenose dolphins has been studied extensively and there are several areas of particular importance, including at the Cromarty Sutors, Chanonry and Kessock. The deep water, narrow channels at the entrance to firths (Inverness, Beauly and Cromarty) are important feeding grounds. Due to the sensitive nature of these areas, the inner firth code is more proscriptive than the outer firth code and requires operators to agree to additional guidelines regarding access to and use of these sensitive areas.
The aim of the code is to ensure that any interaction is under the dolphins' control and they may approach or leave the vicinity of the boat at any time,without being pursued.
Basic Code of Conduct
Sensitive Area Guidelines
Chanonry Narrows: In the Chanonry Narrows a 'no go' zone is recommended as extending 150m in all directions from Chanonry Point. This is to allow the dolphins more freedom from boat interactions while they are feeding and inteacting here. This area should be used for transit only. Vessels should not stop while travelling through this area. Stopping is allowed outside this area, but should be limited to 5-10 minutes. Engines should not be turned off; this is to avoid potential startle responses on turning engines back on. Vessels should only travel through this restricted area once in each direction, during each trip. Slow, steady, forward progress should be made at all time. Vessels should not linger but neither should they travel at speed.
Kessock Narrows/Beauly Firth: In this area the' no go' zone covers the area between the Kessock piers where the tide flows fastest (this can usually be easily observed). Vessels should stay out of this hunting zone entirely as the hydrophones located here have shown that underwater vessel noise can be very intense, which can potentially disrupt feeding behaviour and communication. This is also a ‘transit only area’. Adjacent to the hunting zone vessels should not stop, drift backwards in the tide or execute any turns. Instead slow, steady, forward progress should be made at all times. Vessels should hug the coast, avoiding shallow areas, but staying as far away as possible (at least 50m) from any dolphins.
Once past the hunting zone vessels can approach dolphins and stop to watch, but should limit stops to 5-10 minutes. Engines should remain switched on. Vessels should only travel through this area once in each direction, during each trip. At no point should there be more than one tour vessel in the Kessock Narrows area. A second boat entering the area should 'stand off and wait' outside of the narrows until the first boat has exited the narrows (either by leaving the Beauly Firth or by heading further up the firth away from the narrows area). The time spent inside the narrows area by any individual vessel should be restricted to 5-10 minutes. Vessels should not try and re-encounter the same dolphins within a single trip.
Where appropriate depending on conditions and the type of vessel, operators are encouraged to travel up into the Beauly Firth to enjoy the scenery and wildlife here (including dolphins), thus making this into a broader focused trip with less emphasis on the Kessock Narrows hunting area only.
The Cromarty Sutors: The area between the Sutor headlands is a popular feeding zone for dolphins. This is also a 'transit only' area and slow, steady, forward progress should be made whilst travelling through. Vessels should not stop but nor should they travel at speed. A distance of at least 50m should be maintained from any dolphins while in this area. Vessels should only travel through this area once in each direction, during each trip.
Site Last Updated - 24/04/2013 15:37:48