An international agreement on whale, dolphin and porpoise conservation has been extended to the Isle of Man.

The island is now signed up to the Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas (ASCOBANS) and joins a network of 10 European countries working together to protect whales, dolphins and porpoises.

The agreement covers the Irish Sea, North East Atlantic, Baltic Sea and North Sea.

Manx waters are home to harbour porpoises, while Risso’s, common and bottlenose dolphins are regular visitors.

Whales, dolphins and porpoises are protected under the island’s Wildlife Act.

Conserving marine life is considered to be vital to the island’s biodiversity, economy and status as a UNESCO Biosphere reserve.

The Department of the Environment, Food and Agriculture works closely with the Manx Wildlife Trust and Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch.

Dr Fiona Gell, senior diodiversity officer with the DEFA, said: ’Whales and dolphins can travel long distances so international cooperation is important to ensure their conservation.

’Signatories to ASCOBANS work to reduce threats to the species, including accidental capture in fisheries, litter, pollution, shortage of food like sand eels, habitat loss and climate change.

’The extension of this agreement to the island complements the good work we are doing in this area with local organisations and the public.

’We work with the Manx Wildlife Trust to record dead marine mammals found washed up and report them to a UK database. Samples are taken to monitor levels of pollution in them.

’Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch’s survey work and public sighting scheme has helped us gain a much better understanding of whales, dolphins and porpoises in Manx waters.

’Marine conservation measures we’ve taken such as the introduction of the Ramsey Marine Nature Reserve and our new inshore conservation zones help to sustain the environment these species need.’

The public is asked to report whale, dolphin and porpoise sightings Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch via its website:

They should report dead or stranded whales, dolphins and porpoises to the Manx Wildlife Trust on 844432 or the DEFA on 685837.

Boat users should keep their distance from marine mammals.