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UK enforces licensing for photographing seahorses in Studland


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#1 Paul Kay

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 01:22 AM

Well Natural England have now decided that in England seahorses (which can only be photographed under licence) can no longer be photographed using flashes!

This is, IMHO, a set back for the conservation of this fish in England as it will alienate the people who record them, reduce the sightings recorded and to be blunt smacks of conservation extremism which inevitably has a negative impact by making the whole issue slightly suspect. In the prime area where many seahorses have most often been photographed, anchoring is still allowed in their seagrass habitat and this has a vast amount more potential for damage to them by damaging their habitat than a few flash photographs will have. I'm far from impressed.
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#2 PRC

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 02:05 AM

Classic gold plating of an idea that has merit (protection of this species) Paul.

How easy - ban the flashes but allow all and sundry to drag a 25Kg kledge through the habitat.

Who advises these bodies ?


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#3 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 02:11 AM

I agree with Paul. Alex

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#4 manatee19

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 08:13 AM

Along the same lines humans should be banned from planet earth as they are destroying the habitats... Any scuba on Mars ?

Michel

PS: I also agree with Paul.
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#5 decosnapper

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 11:11 AM

Well Natural England have now decided that in England seahorses (which can only be photographed under licence) can no longer be photographed using flashes!


Boat anchors - right, lets talk about it and do a survey to see if pulling up eelgrass beds (protected habitat) damages wildlife......hmmmm.....double standards? Or could it be the boating community have a) more money and b) greater numbers to muster against a ban on anchoring in Studland Bay?

Natural England may well have decided that seahorses cannot be photographed with flash, but specifically what Act and Clause are they quoting to grant themselves such power? Parliament creates the laws, the rest of us interpret them and act accordingly, but interpretation is open to questioning via the courts (heaven forbid if it came to it) if needed. Case law then establishes who was right and why. If NE are imposing, they may be working outside of the legislation and hope no one calls foul. Or maybe they are indeed working within the law. Until someone finds out what Act they are using, and which Clause is specifically applies then the 'ban' is highly questionable.

That's my take on it.
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#6 Paul Kay

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 12:46 PM

Boat anchors - right, lets talk about it and do a survey to see if pulling up eelgrass beds (protected habitat) damages wildlife......hmmmm.....double standards? Or could it be the boating community have a) more money and b) greater numbers to muster against a ban on anchoring in Studland Bay?

Natural England may well have decided that seahorses cannot be photographed with flash, but specifically what Act and Clause are they quoting to grant themselves such power? Parliament creates the laws, the rest of us interpret them and act accordingly, but interpretation is open to questioning via the courts (heaven forbid if it came to it) if needed. Case law then establishes who was right and why. If NE are imposing, they may be working outside of the legislation and hope no one calls foul. Or maybe they are indeed working within the law. Until someone finds out what Act they are using, and which Clause is specifically applies then the 'ban' is highly questionable.

That's my take on it.

Its a protected species and as such a licence is required to photograph it. The conditions attached to that licence are up to NE so their requirements re probably quite legal. The real problem is that this requirement applies (apparently) to one place only and as such is effectively unenforceable. I fully understand they need not to overstress seahorses but this measure is as a result of very wooly thinking and listening to the wrong advisers and is application of the precautionary principle when vastly more damaging activities are still being allowed - its daft.
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#7 PRC

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 12:57 PM

Face facts - in this case we are a minority that few people care about or indeed care to understand - in some ways it is a novel experience - not pleasant but novel.

Look on the bright side - the value of shots taken before this ban may have risen.

No I have not got any - but someone must have!


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#8 decosnapper

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 01:13 PM

Its a protected species and as such a licence is required to photograph it.


Agreed - I can't remember which Act, but there is one and seahorses are listed.

The conditions attached to that licence are up to NE so their requirements re probably quite legal.


This is where the questions in my mind arises. Are NE imposing terms and conditions because the Act allows them to do so, or is it because they want to? I'm not saying right or wrong either way, but neither have I read the Act......this is worth having a read up on just to see if they are applying the law, or setting the rules themselves.

Agreed, if the Act says they can set the rules then all is well..........but large organisations, just like individuals, make mistakes. Sometimes because they want to, sometimes just because they read it wrong.

Edited by decosnapper, 06 May 2011 - 01:15 PM.

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#9 tdpriest

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Posted 07 May 2011 - 11:21 AM

Thanks to Simon, I've already had a short rant on Digigreen.

I'm torn between conservation and my passion, but I wouldn't want the vilification that Alex T (Alsky72) got when he, quite legally, took some delightful images on Alex M's licence. If there's a good idea, why is it taken to extremes (I'm reading a novel about Robespierre, so I'm quite tuned in to the idea of good ideas becoming destructive when they are pushed to extremes)?

Oh well, another photograph that I'll never take...

Tim

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#10 scubamarli

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Posted 16 May 2011 - 06:15 PM

The Seahorse trust has a Facebook page. This post appeared recently:
The Seahorse Trust has achieved another superb result in the protection of Seahorses
in the wild with the banning of the use of flash by underwater photographers under license here in the UK. Seahorses have very sensitive eyes that can see in full colour in very low light levels and the sudden burst of flash into their eyes repeatedly can cause them a great deal of stress which in turn can cause death due to the latent diseases held in their body. Under normal conditions these diseases cause the Seahorses no problems but stress in the cases of flash have been known to kill Seahorses and that is why flash is banned in most aquariums in the world and on other research projects in the wild around the world. The Seahorses have been officially protected since the 6th of April 2008 under the act as a result of the hard work of volunteers of The Seahorse Trust.

I have asked for clarification about the research and data that resulted in this ruling and why it appears to apply to professionals only. Does anyone know about this (hey, Alex??) It just seems to be really misdirected at those that generally are more sensitive to the harassment of sea creatures than the usual suspects.

Cheers,
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#11 Steve Williams

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Posted 16 May 2011 - 06:27 PM

Hi Marli,
There is a bit of a conversation concerning the issue at the back end of this thread, in case you missed it.

Cheers,
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#12 Drew

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Posted 16 May 2011 - 10:32 PM

I've split that topic and merged the 2 threads together.

The topic on whether flash affects seahorses is :

http://wetpixel.com/...t...=27940&st=0

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#13 Paul Kay

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 06:08 AM

...in the wild with the banning of the use of flash by underwater photographers under license here in the UK. Seahorses have very sensitive eyes that can see in full colour in very low light levels and the sudden burst of flash into their eyes repeatedly can cause them a great deal of stress which in turn can cause death due to the latent diseases held in their body. Under normal conditions these diseases cause the Seahorses no problems but stress in the cases of flash have been known to kill Seahorses and that is why flash is banned in most aquariums in the world and on other research projects in the wild around the world. The Seahorses have been officially protected since the 6th of April 2008 under the act as a result of the hard work of volunteers of The Seahorse Trust.

I have just been informed that the above information is incorrect - and the ban extends to one site only. The relevant people dealing with this licencing issue have just emailed me requesting a list of contacts who may be able to help by supplying useful data on the effects of flash photography on seahorses. So if anyone is prepared to help (scientifically) I'd be interested in hearing from them. I think that the above statement was very ill-advised and have been in email discussion with the Seahorse Trust who it seem s may have had some (possibly significant) input into this situation. I am far from impressed and would add that basing potential wild seahorse reactions to those observed in a potentially stressed captive environment is very poor science indeed. Paradoxically I have photographed seahorses in aquaria (for the aquaria) with no observable ill-effects on the seahorses - but good husbandry reduces stress levels and I am certain that the ones I have photographed have been well cared for.

If the above was true I'd expect to have seen substantial adverse reactions in the numerous pipefish that I've photographed too.

Edited by Paul Kay, 17 May 2011 - 06:09 AM.

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#14 jlyle

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 06:15 AM

OMG! You have to have a license? I thought California was crazy but this takes the prize.
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#15 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 06:23 AM

Thanks for the clarification Paul. I presume that the one site is Studland? Alex

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#16 Paul Kay

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 06:53 AM

Thanks for the clarification Paul. I presume that the one site is Studland? Alex

It is Alex. I think/hope we might see some reasonable clarification on this issue in the not too distant future.
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#17 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 07:46 AM

Glad to hear. Without saying too much, I feel that there is a personal element to some of it, rather than a basis in pure science.
Alex

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#18 Paul Kay

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 08:14 AM

Glad to hear. Without saying too much, I feel that there is a personal element to some of it, rather than a basis in pure science.
Alex

You may have a point......
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#19 decosnapper

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 08:40 AM

Glad to hear. Without saying too much, I feel that there is a personal element to some of it, rather than a basis in pure science.
Alex


Or indeed actual basis of law and an Act of parliament?

Has anyone checked if the actions of EN are working within, or outside of, the legislation?

Edited by decosnapper, 17 May 2011 - 08:41 AM.

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#20 Paul Kay

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 09:12 AM

Or indeed actual basis of law and an Act of parliament?

Has anyone checked if the actions of EN are working within, or outside of, the legislation?

I think that its the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 - as amended since - and in the UK seahorses are a 'protected species' under Schedule 5 of this Act. I assume the Natural England is the organisation responsible for implementing this legislation in England - see http://jncc.defra.go....aspx?page=1747 but you will have to look through additional pages to figure out what all this means. Finally it would no doubt come down to case law when and if a prosecution is actually made (photographs might be pretty handy evidence!). I think, from what I remember, that wilful 'disturbance' - ie taking a flash photograph whilst this has been specifically forbidden by the licencing authority - might be a difficult scenario to defend so its far better get any 'ban' lifted than try to force the situation. Bear in mind that photographing a bird at its nest in the UK is only possible under licence and I am pretty sure that prosecutions have been made when no licence has been held.
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