Northern Ireland news

No arrests dolphins disturbed at Ballycastle

Bottlenose dolphins are a protected species

POLICE say they have made no arrests in relation to the disurbance bottlenose dolphins by jet-skis and speed boats off Ballycastle in July.

The incident saw the Coastguard and Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs' fisheries patrol vessel Salar visit the area where the dolphins and craft were located.

According to the department, its vessel, which had a a marine enforcement officer on board, "intercepted and cautioned a number of individuals, resulting in jet skis and boats returning to the harbour".

At the time, Rathlin Island ferry skipper Douglas Cecil said he was "absolutely shocked" by the behaviour of jet-skiers and speed boats, who he said were "harassing" the dolphins.

"At one stage the pod of dolphins were completed surrounded with nowhere to go – ignorance is no excuse," he tweeted.

In response to a recent assembly written question, Agriculture Environment Minister Edwin Poots described the intervention as "enforcement action" and said the incident was being probed by police under laws that make it an offence to disturb protected species.

The PSNI confirmed to The Irish News that no arrests were made and they declined to say how many individuals had interviewed about it.

A PSNI spokesperson said enquiries were continuing and appealed to anyone who may have information that could assist the investigation to get in touch.

Mr Poots said over the past two summers his department had received "frequent complaints about jet-skis causing disturbance to marine wildlife" alongside concerns for the safety of swimmers.

He said department officials had responded with targeted patrols to monitor jet-ski activity. However, he said Daera's regulatory powers do not extend to public safety, which is a reserved matter with responsibility resting at Westminster.

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Northern Ireland news