Codes of Conduct

The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park has some of the most unspoilt and spectacular coastal scenery in the UK. It is an area rich in wildlife and is designated as being internationally and nationally important for marine habitats and species. The maps and codes of conduct on this website highlight the existing Agreed Access Restrictions that have been drawn up by conservation experts and coastal users. The codes have been agreed in order to preserve and protect the marine wildife that makes the Pembrokeshire coastline so special.

Code of Conduct for Seals

We are very fortunate to share our waters with grey seals. They are sensitive to disturbance and are protected by law. They haul out to pup on the Pembrokeshire coastline and offshore islands usually from August to the end of November. Although there may be gatherings of large groups at any time of year.

1. Do not land on pupping beaches from 1st August to the end of November and do not disturb mothers nursing pups. Adult females often rest about 10-30m away from the shore and their pup. Avoid coming between them.

2. Avoid creeping up on seals or approaching them bow on. They may perceive you as a predator.

3. Keep your distance and keep at least 50m* away from seals unless they approach you. Seals can be particularly sensitive to disturbance after periods of stormy weather and during the breeding season.

4. Always allow seals an escape route and avoid boxing them in.

5. For the sake of your safety and for the health of the seals themselves do not seek to swim with, touch or feed seals.

6. Noise disrupts. Keep speed below 5 knots on arrival and departure. Keep viewing time to 10 minutes. Move away if you observe disturbance, such as rapid swimming to and fro, sudden panic diving, and re-entry into the water. Moving away can prevent an extended stampede in haul out areas.

*The distance at which seals show signs of agitation varies tremendously, depending on the location, the type of approach, whether the animals are used to being watched and whether or not they have pups with them.  Be responsive to the behaviour of the animals.

Code of Conduct for Seabirds

The 1st March to the 31st July is a particularly sensitive time as birds come ashore to nest. Sensitive sites include steep cliffs and inlets. The Pembrokeshire coastline and offshore islands have nationally and internationally important populations of seabirds.

1. Plan trips carefully and with respect to agreed site specific access restrictions. They are in place to protect wildlife for future generations.

2. Observe birds’ reactions from a distance.

3. The following bird behaviour indicates preparedness to fly; head craning, head turning, head bobbing, and wing flapping in situ. Do not proceed if you observe this as you will make them fly.

4. Auks (guillemots, razorbills) incubate eggs on their feet. If they fly off ledges in a panic their eggs are dislodged and destroyed.

5. On open water you may encounter rafts of seabirds. Avoid causing disturbance to rafting birds as they may regurgitate food meant for their young/take flight during valuable resting time.

Code of Conduct for Cetaceans

Dolphins, porpoise and whales share these waters with you. They are sensitive to disturbance and are protected by law. Our actions can disturb their daily activities and even cause injury. The following general advice can minimise stress to cetaceans when encountered at sea. The advice can also benefit our encounters with turtles, basking sharks and sunfish.

1. On sighting cetaceans fast vessels should slow down to a speed less than 5 knots and continue on a steady course presenting predictable movements. Avoid erratic movements or speed changes.

2. Allow groups of cetaceans to remain together and avoid deliberately driving through them.

3. Leave cetaceans with young alone and avoid coming between a mother and calf.

4. Always allow cetaceans an escape route and avoid boxing them in, do not chase cetaceans.

5. Leave if you notice any signs of disturbance; such as erratic changes in speed and direction, or lengthy periods underwater.

Useful Contacts

To report disturbance to wildlife contact:

  • Marine Code Project Officer 07989 218489
  • Police Marine Unit 01267 226129

Useful contacts:

  • Skokholm Island Warden 07971 114303
  • Skomer Island Warden / Visitor Officer 07971 114302 / 07530 796150
  • Skomer MCZ Officer 01646 636736
  • META Operations Manager 07944 839332
  • Ramsey and Grassholm Island Warden 07796 611951
  • South Pembs Natural Resources Wales 01646 661368
  • Caldey Island Warden 01834 844453
  • Milford Haven Water Ranger 01646 696100
  • To report sightings of whales, dolphins & porpoise contact 01407 832892

Contacts for reporting marine mammal strandings/animals or birds in distress:

  • RSCPA 03001 234999
  • Bird Rescue 01834 814397 / 07771 507915
  • Pembrokeshire County Council 01437 764551
  • Maritime & Coastguard Agency 01646 690909
  • Welsh Marine Life Rescue co-ordinator, Terry Leadbetter 01646 692943/07970 285086
  • British Divers Marine Life Rescue 01825 765546

View the video below for specific guidance for those exploring the coast by sea kayak.