Gibraltar Government reminds boat owners of the Cetacean Protocol

Common dolphins Bay of Gibraltar

Mystery of dead dolphins washing up on Costa del Sol beaches baffles experts. Credit: Radekostojski78 CC

NOW that dolphins and whales are evident in local waters, the Gibraltar Government reminds boat owners of the Cetacean Protocol and the need to be sensible.

This is the time of the year when many sea creatures start to migrate out of the Mediterranean and into feeding grounds in the Atlantic.

Already there have been reports of Fin Whales heading through the Straits which highlights the fact that Gibraltar waters (which the Government refers to as British Gibraltar Territorial Waters) form an important migratory corridor.

All whales and dolphins are protected in Gibraltar under the Nature Protection Act and Gibraltar’s Cetacean Protocol introduced in 2014.

Under these laws, the following conditions must be strictly met by boat users including those visiting the Rock from Spain at all times;

  1. The free movement of cetaceans must be permitted in all directions by not intercepting their trajectory, cutting across their path, navigating towards or in close proximity to them.
  2. Vessels are required to maintain a distance of 300 metres from any dolphin or whale if there are adults with young animals. The Protocol also establishes a 500 metre radius from the animals within which vessels are only allowed to travel at no more than 4 knots or no greater than the slowest animal in the group. Under no circumstances must a vessel get closer than 60 metres unless in an emergency situation.
  3. If whales or dolphins’ approach or appear within 60 metres of a vessel, the engine will be placed in neutral or stopped if possible.

Loggerhead turtles are also strictly protected and also occur regularly during this period when the animals are observed foraging or migrating towards the Atlantic Ocean.

They may sometimes be seen floating motionless on the surface basking in the sun but this is perfectly normal behaviour.

Any contraventions of the Protocol or the Nature Protection Act will be investigated and may result in legal proceedings being initiated against the skipper of offending vessels.

This does not however stop the regular dolphin spotting tours which are still running out of Gibraltar.

Thank you for reading ‘Gibraltar Government reminds boat owners of the Cetacean Protocol.’

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Written by

John Smith

Married to Ophelia in Gibraltar in 1978, John has spent much of his life travelling on security print and minting business and visited every continent except Antarctica. Having retired several years ago, the couple moved to their house in Estepona and John became a regular news writer for the EWN Media Group taking particular interest in Finance, Gibraltar and Costa del Sol Social Scene. Share your story with us by emailing, by calling +34 951 38 61 61 or by messaging our Facebook page