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Monday, July 5, 1999 Published at 12:17 GMT 13:17 UK


Fears over whales safety

The MoD has been asked to halt exercises for three months

Whales may be being bombed from their Scottish feeding grounds by the Royal Navy, a leading research organisation has warned.

The Sea Watch Foundation has asked the navy to stop exercises in the whale-sensitive Minches and Inner Hebridean Sound for three months.

It wants the manoeuvres banned from July to September when there are large concentrations of minke whales in the area, many feeding with calves.

[ image: Whales
Whales "may leave feeding grounds"
Sea Watch Director Dr Peter Evans said he was worried about depth charge explosions and sound from big ships affecting the whales' hearing - which could lead to strandings.

"We have become increasingly concerned about the military activities in the Minches and Inner sound," said Dr Evans.

"We have had local reports from boat operators that minke whales are pretty scarce when these exercises are taking place.

"We have had one meeting with the Navy who said they would take our views into account but they have made no decision - and we have heard no more.

"We are monitoring the situation and will seek further meetings, but it is worrying us," he added.

A spokesman for the MoD said that the navy believed it was nature conscious.

"We always take into account the wildlife of an area not to disrupt it," he said.

"We are still considering the representations made to us."

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