Isle of Man News - POSTED Tue 28-05-2013

Manx Basking Shark Watch provides important data to wind farm developer

by Manx Wildlife Trust

Manx Basking Shark Watch, a Manx Wildlife Trust project, has placed 21 satellite tags on basking sharks since 2007, in order to find out where they go when they leave Manx waters and to see how they utilise the Irish and Celtic Seas. The Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture, local firms and the Manx Lottery Trust support this innovative research. This scientific data is useful to governments to enable them to make informed wildlife management decisions.

Manx Basking Shark Watch plans to place a further 10 satellite tags of a new type on basking sharks in 2013. This new generation of tag will allow us to trace the basking sharks movements on a much finer scale and in almost real time. Maps of each tagged basking shark’s track will be accessible by the public via a website.

The Northern Irish Sea is becoming increasingly developed and Centrica/DONG Energy’s Celtic Array proposal, to the south of the Isle of Man, just outside Manx waters, is one of the biggest potential wind farm developments to date. In order for companies to make informed decisions about the placement and risks of building a wind farm, they need the best scientific evidence about the environment as possible. DONG Energy has therefore decided to support Manx Basking Shark Watch in 2013 by providing enough money to deploy 3 SPOT tags.

Centrica/DONG Energy want to ensure that they have as much data as possible on the movement and distribution patterns of this endangered species. Paul Childs, of DONG Energy, said in relation to this collaboration, "In order to submit an application to build an offshore wind farm, years of detailed environmental assessment has to take place – this covers a wide range of surveys from assessing the human environment on land to the natural habitat above and below the waves out in the Irish Sea.  Celtic Array is very pleased to be able to support the important efforts of the Manx Basking Shark Watch in tracking basking sharks in Manx waters, and beyond.  We want to make sure that our environmental surveys in the project area are thorough, and being able to support a scheme like this is both of benefit to the project, and hopefully towards helping to monitor and protect this species."

We believe that this is a great way to ensure that all the potential risks to basking sharks are adequately taken into consideration as they move forward with the Celtic Array proposal.

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