European Protected Species (EPS) are animals and plants (species listed in Annex IV of the Habitats Directive) that are afforded protection under The Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 (as amended) and the Conservation of Offshore Marine Habitats and Species Regulations 2017. All cetacean species (whales, dolphins and porpoise) are European Protected Species. If any activity is likely to cause disturbance or injury to a European Protected Species a licence is required to undertake the activity legally.
A licence may be granted to undertake such activities if certain strict criteria are met:
- there is a licensable purpose
- there are no satisfactory alternatives
- the actions authorised will not be detrimental to the maintenance of the population of the species concerned at favourable conservation status in their natural range