New look for updated Marine Code

Lulu, the killer whale found dead on Tiree.

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A best practice code for watching marine wildlife around Scotland’s coasts has been revised, updated and re-launched by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

The code, originally launched in 2006, has been updated to reflect changes in legislation, advances in technology and updated contacts.

The SMWWC is complemented by a 62-page guide called Best Practice for Watching Marine Wildlife. Packed with superb photographs, the guide provides additional information about the animals you are most likely to see in the seas around Scotland, along with practical guidance on responsible behaviour around these animals.

Both documents can be freely downloaded from SNH’s website and special water-proof printed versions have been issued to marine wildlife tour boat operators.

Cabinet Secretary for the environment, climate change and land reform Roseanna Cunningham said: ‘Scotland’s seas are magnificent for marine wildlife watching and attract visitors from around the world which is why it’s so important that we do all we can to protect the iconic marine species that live in our waters.

‘The newly revised code will encourage people to enjoy the natural environment in a respectful and responsible manner.’

The SMWWC was developed through widespread consultation, particularly with wildlife tourism operators.

The code is designed for all those who watch marine wildlife around Scotland, whether they are on the shore or at sea. It is not a law or regulation – its main purpose is to raise awareness and offer practical guidance for responsible marine wildlife watching.

Mike Cantlay, SNH chairman, said: ‘Scotland’s seas are home to a fantastic range of marine animals which attracts wildlife watchers from around the world. Recent studies estimate that wildlife watching in coastal and marine areas accounts for £163 million in tourist expenditure each year.

‘Pioneering work such as our basking shark tagging project is starting to reveal just how important our waters are for many marine species. The Scottish Marine Wildlife Watching Code is all about ensuring that we can enjoy having these animals in Scottish seas, and the benefits they bring, for generations to come.’

The Scottish Marine Wildlife Watching Code (SMWWC) aims to promote enjoyment of marine wildlife and raise awareness about the best ways to watch animals including dolphins, birds, seals, otters, whales and basking sharks. It provides guidance on how best to enjoy watching these animals without disturbing or harming them.

The code and the guide to best practice are available at and an email address has been set up for queries or comments –