Oil Leak 176 EPS part 4

More on the Marine Scotland Guidance on EPS:

Launched in 2006 as a requirement of the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004, the Scottish Marine Wildlife Watching Code is primarily concerned with minimising disturbance. Although primarily aimed at the wildlife watching industry, the definition of disturbance within the Code is relevant for other activities as well. Within the scope of the Code, disturbance has been defined as ‘The result of direct or indirect interaction with people that changes the behaviour of any animal or changes the environment, which in turn affects the well-being or survival of an animal in the short, medium or long-term.’

This might include for example:

  •   Direct injury (collisions, propeller damage).
  •   Changes in distribution.
  •   Excessive use of energy and eventually loss of condition caused by continual or repeated avoidance or flight.
  •  Disruptions of communication, migration, breathing, breeding, nursing, feeding or resting.
  •   Increased vulnerability of an individual or population to predators or physical stress.
  •   Damage to habitat.It is important to note that many forms of disturbance will have little detectable impact on marine wildlife. However, several factors can transform what appears to be minor into significant disturbance:
    •   Repeated disturbance.
    •   Disturbance associated with a large number of activities.
    •   Disturbance at sensitive times or in sensitive places.

Anything here that can be applied to STS?

  • Repeated disturbance – ships anchoring within the area of highest dolphin density for 24hrs (or more in bad weather) – pumps running, engines running, tugs in attendance. This will recur “on average” 48 times per annum – in reality the weather is too variable in the winter – that’s why the term on average has been used – however that is most certainly repeated disturbance, especially as it will happen in the same place now that the plan for five anchorage has been dropped.
  • Disturbance associated with a large number of activities – there could certainly be a cumulative impact with the increase in cruise ship traffic and decommissioning traffic etc. However, with boats passing through, although there is an increased risk of direct injury from collisions, it is less of an issue than STS. Together it could be a major issue.  
  • We also believe it is more likely that the 48 STS transfers per year will actually take place between May and September. A critical time for dolphin breeding, rearing and feeding. That covers disturbance at sensitive times. Anchorage 18a covers disturbance in sensitive places.

We will come back to the cumulative issue shortly as it is not only Cromarty Rising that have raised this.