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Investigation of Cetacean strandings around the UK coast - ME6008

Description
The principal requirement of this project is to provide a coordinated approach to surveillance of cetacean stranding and to investigate causes of death of stranded cetaceans, and occasionally other vulnerable species such as turtles and basking sharks in the UK.

All cetacean species are protected against intentional killing, injury, capture or disturbance under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, and since October 1994 are further protected under The Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 which implement the EC Directive on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Flora and Fauna (the ‘Habitats Directive’ - 92/43/EEC).The UK is also a Party to the Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans in the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas (ASCOBANS), a regional agreement under the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (the Bonn Convention), which came into force on 29 March 1994. Under the Agreement, range states are committed to co-operate in research, management and other measures needed to conserve dolphins, porpoises and other small cetaceans in the North Sea (including the English Channel) and the Baltic Sea. Defra is the UK co-ordinating authority for implementation of the Agreement.

The Conservation and Management Plan that forms an integral part of the ASCOBANS Agreement specifically requires that: "Each Party shall endeavour to establish an efficient system for reporting and retrieving by-catches and stranded specimens and to carry out full autopsies in order to collect tissues for further studies and to reveal possible causes of death and to document food composition. The information collected shall be made available in an international database."
Objective
This project has the following aims:

• To collect/collate, analyse and report data for all cetacean stranding around the coast of the UK;

•To determine the causes of death in stranded cetaceans, including by-catch and physical trauma, in order to identify risk in relation to pressures and any significant changes in causes of death within species and to detect substantial new threats to their conservation status

• To undertake surveillance on the incidence of disease in stranded cetaceans in order to identify any substantial new threats to their conservation status;

• To investigate the potential interaction between feeding behaviour, fisheries and stranded cetaceans through examination of the contents of the stomach; to investigate prey (possibly identify prey from otoliths) and to also record any evidence of ‘litter’.

• Maintain the cetacean stranding investigation programme (CSIP) database which brings together accurate and geo-referenced data on both stranding and post mortem. The database will be searchable through the CSIP website.

• To make information on stranding and post-mortems results available to the Department and Devolved Administrations through a light touch quarterly reports and publicly available by annual reports, as well as publicising the open access to data and samples collected and stored through the project.

• To establish, improve and maintain relationships with international peer projects, regional volunteer networks local authorities and other stakeholders who may support the achievement of project objectives

• To consider innovative ways to support efficiency and capacity of the programme within the project budget, to then present ideas and ways of streamlining the project (e.g. the expansion of the volunteer network, use of a reporting app) to the Project Steering Group.

• To seek opportunities for external funding within and outside of the UK, in particular in order that UK expertise facilitates the development of coordinated stranding programmes outside of the UK.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2017

To: 2020

Cost: £1,214,648
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Zoological Society of London
Keywords
Biodiversity              
Environmental Impact              
Marine              
Marine Mammels              
Natural Environment