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Paul Kay

UK enforces licensing for photographing seahorses in Studland

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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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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 ?

 

 

Paul C

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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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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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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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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!

 

 

Paul C

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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

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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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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,

Marli

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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,

Steve

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...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

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

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

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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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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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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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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

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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.gov.uk/default.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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Legal disclaimer - I'm not a lawyer........

 

Here goes:-

 

Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981.

Section 16 - Power to grant licenses:-

 

(5) ©may be subject to compliance with any specified conditions;

 

Taken from Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981

 

Its my interpretation (reminder - get legal advice, not internet heresay!) that the above gives those who issue the license(s) the power to add specific conditions.

 

The question remains is would a judge consider flash photography, based on no (that I am aware of) scientific research or grounds, consider the restriction 'reasonable'? And would anyone want to actually test this in court? Two questions, one answered with 'who knows?' and the other with 'unlikely to never'. Wetpixelers can make their own guesses as to which answer goes with which question.....

 

Plan B - Paul's 'appealing the ban' - appears to be the least painless option.

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I received a lengthy reply from the administrator of the Seahorse Trust. It was never mentioned that this ruling only applied to one area. There also seemed to be a personal bent to this that I don't wish to address in a public forum. Ironically, his personal Facebook page profile photo someone holding a seahorse in their fist. Good grief; talk about stressing seahorses.

 

I am all for being sensitive to stressing of marine life as an underwater photographer. However, I think that laws need to be applied based on fact and scientific research.

 

Cheers,

Marli

Legal disclaimer - I'm not a lawyer........

 

Here goes:-

 

Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981.

Section 16 - Power to grant licenses:-

 

(5) ©may be subject to compliance with any specified conditions;

 

Taken from Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981

 

Its my interpretation (reminder - get legal advice, not internet heresay!) that the above gives those who issue the license(s) the power to add specific conditions.

 

The question remains is would a judge consider flash photography, based on no (that I am aware of) scientific research or grounds, consider the restriction 'reasonable'? And would anyone want to actually test this in court? Two questions, one answered with 'who knows?' and the other with 'unlikely to never'. Wetpixelers can make their own guesses as to which answer goes with which question.....

 

Plan B - Paul's 'appealing the ban' - appears to be the least painless option.

Edited by scubamarli

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There also seemed to be a personal bent to this that I don't wish to address in a public forum. Ironically, his personal Facebook page profile photo someone holding a seahorse in their first. Good grief; talk about stressing seahorses.

You are quite correct not to address such matters publicly. All I will say is that there are issues which may finally surface which will explain more about what has been going on. What would be really useful is some feedback from anyone involved in scientific studies of seahorses in the wild. Aquarium studies are potentially of stressed animals and extrapolating their behaviour into a wild scenario needs to be discouraged.

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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.

 

How does one get a license and how much does it cost? Just curious and still flabbergasted in California.

 

Do you have to show the license to the bird before you take its picture?

Edited by jlyle

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How does one get a license and how much does it cost? Just curious and still flabbergasted in California.

 

Do you have to show the license to the bird before you take its picture?

I think that you have to submit evidence to show that you know what you are doing and that you understand the issues of disturbance of a bird at its nest - no cost. (The RSPB is a powerful lobby in the UK and has an enormous membership so birds are quite well protected over here).

 

Of course you don't show the bird - that would disturb it :) .

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