HC Deb 24 July 2000 vol 354 c388W
Mr. Llew Smith

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what measures are in place to protect harbour porpoise in(a) United Kingdom waters and (b) other waters in the European Union. [131990]

Mr. Mullin

Harbour porpoises, like all cetaceans, are protected in Great Britain under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Section 9 of the 1981 Act makes it an offence to intentionally kill or injure all cetaceans, or to damage, destroy or obstruct access to any place which they use for shelter or protection. Similar provisions apply in Northern Ireland. In addition, the Government have recently proposed an amendment to the Countryside and Rights of Way Bill to increase the protection given to cetaceans. The amendment will make it an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb a cetacean.

Within the European Union, harbour porpoises are protected under the Council Directive (92/43/EEC) on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora, known as the Habitats Directive. This requires member states to designate appropriate sites of community importance for harbour porpoises as Special Areas of Conservation and prohibit the deliberate killing and disturbance of this species. This Directive is transposed into UK law by the Conservation (Natural Habitats &c.) Regulations 1994.

The Government are currently considering the implications of last autumn's judgment by the High Court that the Habitats Directive extends beyond the limits of the territorial seas. They expect to consult before the end of this year on regulations to transpose the Directive to cover the marine environment within the United Kingdom's jurisdiction outside the territorial seas.

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