To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is taking to ensure that marine nature reserves are able to provide effective protection for the two remaining resident populations of the bottle-nosed dolphin in Cardigan bay and Moray firth.
My scientific advisers, the Nature Conservancy Council, have no proposals for the designation of Cardigan bay or the Moray firth as marine nature reserves. They have no evidence to suggest that such action would be an effective measure to conserve the bottle-nosed dolphin. This species of dolphin is, of course, already protected by virtue of its listing in schedule 5 to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
Is it not time that we had more than one solitary marine nature reserve in this country? Indeed, is it not time that the Nature Conservancy Council was given power to prevent toxic pollution of marine nature reserves in addition to other coastal waters? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that dolphins and other species are literally being driven to extinction in the seas around Britain because of the Government's determination to assert Britannia's right to foul the waves? Is he further aware that it is time that we surrendered some of that sovereignty to more responsible authorities in Europe?
The hon. Gentleman must know that it is for the Nature Conservancy Council to suggest marine reserves, and I can only consider proposals put forward by that council. The hon. Gentleman is under a typical delusion in thinking that the death of the seals last year was due to pollution, whereas it is now known that it was due to virus diseases. It might help if the hon. Gentleman got his facts right, which is what I want to do before I propose any solutions concerned with dolphins.
Is the Secretary of State aware that the highly respected organisation Greenpeace will early next month be undertaking a survey of marine life in the Moray firth? Should Greenpeace produce evidence showing that steps need to be taken to protect the dolphin, the porpoise and other species, will the right hon. Gentleman act on it?
I am glad to say that I am not responsible for the activities of Greenpeace. The Natural Environment Research Council considers it inconceivable that there are only two remaining groups in United Kingdom waters of the bottle-nosed dolphin, which is what Greenpeace has apparently alleged.