Coastguard

Ballycastle Coast Guard have rallied after reports of ‘dolphin harassment’

The coast guard and a naval officer rushed to Ballycastle on Sunday after reports of dolphins being harassed.

Disturbing wildlife, whether at sea or on land, is an offense and can result in hefty fines and potentially a criminal record.

Ballycastle Coast Guard said they had to task the boats with speaking to members of the public who had gathered around a pod of dolphins in the water. They were greeted in the area by a DAERA maritime control officer who had also been tasked with going to the scene.

The noise of boats and personal craft “distresses” marine animals, leaving them unable to communicate “acoustically with their pod”.

A Coast Guard spokesperson said: “Following reports from the general public on Sunday afternoon of the potential harassment of dolphins on Ballycastle beach by personal watercraft and pleasure craft, HM Coastguard has been tasked to investigate .

“At the scene, they were greeted by an enforcement officer from the Marine and Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) who had also been in charge of the same. incident.

As all activities were at sea, the executing officer launched the fisheries protection vessel Salar and proceeded to the area. A conversation took place with several PWC users and they were asked to return to Ballycastle harbor.

“At the port, advice was given on the legal protection of these marine mammals and on how to operate legally in their presence,” they added.

“After the area was cleared of personal watercraft and pleasure craft, dolphins were observed swimming freely westward and regrouping in their pods. The noise of ships and personal watercraft caused distress to these social mammals because they cannot communicate acoustically with their pod.

“If convicted of disturbing wildlife, under the Wildlife Ordinance, there is a risk of a heavy fine or a period of imprisonment. They are also large animals and can capsize ships or cause injury. “

Marine life surfaced in a number of areas around NI during the heat wave.

Members of the public are encouraged to give space to wildlife at sea, especially seals, whales and dolphins if you are lucky enough to spot them.


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