Boat Handlers

Boat © Marc Dando.A brief reminder to boat-users around the UK – especially in Basking Shark hotspots: please take extra care during the summer and autumn seasons when the sharks arrive in our waters. Every year we see evidence of boat-strikes, with many Basking Sharks suffering horrific injuries on their dorsal fins from collisions with boats or jet-skis.

Make it your responsibility to get out of the sharks’ way – as it will not get out of yours.

The following guidelines have been designed to help boat handlers reduce the risk of injuring or harassing Basking Sharks:

  • Restrict your speed to below six knots and avoid sudden speed changes.
  • When closer than 100m switch the engine to neutral to avoid injuring sharks.
  • The viewing distance between the boat and large groups or courting sharks should be at least 500m.
  • Be extremely cautious in areas where Basking Sharks have been seen breaching.
  • Jet-skis should stay at least 500m away from Basking Sharks.
  • Remember that for every shark visible on the surface there are likely to be more hidden just below.
  • Take time to observe the direction of movement of the Basking Sharks to anticipate their course -  you can then position yourself for the best view.
  • Don’t forget to take pictures of the fins for the photo-identification project.

Basking Sharks are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981), the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (2000), the Northern Ireland Wildlife Order (1985) and the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act (2004). These Acts make it illegal to intentionally kill, injure or recklessly disturb or harass Basking Sharks in British waters. Any person committing such an offence could face up to six months in prison and a large fine.

Internationally, Basking Sharks are listed under CITES Appendix II, CMS Appendix I and II and UNCLOS Annex I.

Download the Code of Conduct Poster (pdf)