SEDHREC Habitat Mitigation Officers on a new patrol boat for the Exe Estuary

A new patrol boat in the Exe Estuary will help keep water users safe and protect important wildlife.

A new patrol boat has been launched in the Exe Estuary to help protect wildlife and ensure water users stay safe.

The 5.75-metre-long patrol boat has been funded by the South East Devon Habitat Regulations Executive Committee (SEDHREC) -- a partnership of Teignbridge, Exeter and East Devon Councils set up to help protect internationally important conservation sites on the Exe Estuary, Dawlish Warren and East Devon's Pebblebed Heaths.  Bought from a local business, the £27,000 boat was paid for with money from developers of new housing across the 3 council areas. 

Working in close partnership with the Harbour Authority, the patrol boat will be piloted on the estuary by SEDHREC’s Habitat Mitigation Officers to make sure the Estuary is a safe place for everyone to enjoy. Sama Euridge and Amelia Davies will give advice to users to help them be aware of updated codes of conduct and two new wildlife refuges in the Exe Estuary, effective from 15 September 2018. These important areas for wildlife were approved by SEDHREC in October 2017.

Chair of SEDHREC, and Teignbridge District Council’s Executive Member for Planning and Housing, Cllr Humphrey Clemens said:

The new boat will play a key role in our educational and outreach programme for the Exe Estuary and will help people to understand where and when the new refuges apply.

The boat has been named Branta Isca, after Branta, the “family” of birds which includes the iconic Exe species, the Dark Bellied Brent Goose and Isca, the Roman name for Exeter.

The Exe has a variety of habitats which together provide one of the most important sites for waterfowl in Europe. The protection of these designated sites for nature is a legal obligation.

Sama Euridge, Habitat Mitigation Officer, said:

 We’re really looking forward to being out on the river and talking to water users about the conservation designations and protected species we have here. The Exe Estuary is an incredible place. We want to see everyone sharing this space safely, with respect for the wildlife that lives here and the habitat on which it depends.

The new wildlife refuges have been designated to help people identify areas that are particularly sensitive for our overwintering and resident bird populations, so they may avoid them and let the birds roost, feed and nest in peace. We have seen declines in some of our most iconic Exe species in recent years, so hopefully these additional measures will help populations stabilise and ensure the Exe remains a wildlife haven into the future.

Amelia Davies, Habitat Mitigation Officer, said:

The estuary is hugely popular with visitors and locals alike. Many of the visitors won’t be aware of the new wildlife refuges, so our job is to help them understand where they are and what they mean.

We’re asking all regular users and local groups to help us spread the word about the updated codes of conduct and the new wildlife refuges. The wildlife refuges are marked by yellow mark buoys denoted with a ‘WR’. If you see these while out on the water, please avoid these critical resting and feeding areas, as long as it is safe to do so.

The patrol boat and wildlife refuges are just some of the measures SEDHREC are implementing to preserve highly protected areas in light of increased recreational pressure from a growing population locally. In addition, new interpretation boards are being installed around the Exe Estuary and updated codes of conduct for the wide variety of people using the Exe are available on www.exe-estuary.org .

To see the new boat in action follow us on twitter @SEDevonWildlife, facebook @SouthEastDevonWildlife or Instagram @sedwildlife