Environment Food and Rural Affairs
Ben Bradshaw (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Local Environment, Marine and Animal Welfare), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Exeter, Labour)
Obtaining population estimates for mobile species such as cetaceans is difficult. According to scientific advice recently published by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, dolphins Delphinus delphis present in south-west waters form part of a single genetic population in the North East Atlantic. Although no single abundance survey has been carried out for this area, scientific work base don surveys for various parts of the North East Atlantic suggests a population of the order of 380,000 animals. Similarly, the harbour porpoise Phocoena phocoena is widely distributed in all waters around the UK. The 2002 report of the Advisory Committee on Ecosystems of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ECES) estimated 36,280 harbour porpoise in south-west waters.
A consortium of international researchers, co-ordinated by the Sea Mammal Research Unit, is currently carrying out a second SCANS survey of the distribution and abundance of small cetaceans—particularly harbour porpoises, bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncates and common dolphins. The survey area is intended to cover the shelf waters of the Atlantic margin, the North sea and adjacent waters. The UK contributed £275,000 to this project. The results of the second SCANS survey should be available by the end of 2006.