The WiSe Scheme
The UK's national training scheme for minimising disturbance to marine wildlife
The waters around the UK are home to a fantastic variety of marine wildlife, whether visible from the shore or from a boat. However, these wild animals are vulnerable to disturbance if not encountered in a manner that respects their wild nature.
The WiSe Scheme is about watching marine wildlife the wildlife-safe way.
Our aim is to promote responsible wildlife-watching, through training, accreditation and raising awareness. The WiSe Scheme is a simple modular training course aimed primarily at wildlife cruise operators, dive and service boats, yacht skippers and sea kayakers, plus people participating in coasteering, stand-up paddle boarding and wild swimming. These groups of people are most likely to come into contact with marine wildlife, as they are likely out on the water on a regular basis. We also seek to educate the general public who are keen to minimise their impact whilst out on or near the water.
Find out more: what is the WiSe Scheme?
If you are looking for a WiSe operator/guide for your next trip to the coast, see our listings of trained people, sorted by Region.
Forthcoming courses are listed below - see WiSe Course details.
**NEWS** FAO all Scotland based WiSe Accredited Operators
Nature Scot have issued guidance regarding the need to limit the spread of deadly highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) at key bird gatherings sites around Scotland.
This includes restrictions on public landings from Monday 18th July 2022 on a number of islands all around the coastline and in some cases that will be in place until mid-October. We are sure that all WiSe Accredited Operators will understand the need for such measures and abide by them.
For full details, please visit the relevant page on the Nature Scot website.
What is The WiSe Scheme?
We enhance people's understanding on how to avoid disturbing wildlife.
The WiSe Scheme seeks to minimise unintentional disturbance through
delivering training/accreditation to operators of registered passenger and charter vessels who wish to view marine wildlife responsibly;
delivering training/accreditation to professional practitioners involved in coastal/inter-tidal adventure activities;
working with operators of service and support boats that may interact with marine wildlife; and
liaising with key conservation agencies and organisations to offer advice and guidance.
Thousands of operators/marine professionals have now attended one or more of our WiSe courses, designed to ensure a solid understanding of how best to approach and interact with marine wildlife species, and focus on ways they can help minimise any unintentional disturbance from their activities on, in or near the water.
WiSe has developed Codes of Conduct to promote safe and sustainable watching our our basking sharks, whales, dolphins, seals and seabirds. All WiSe trained individuals have agreed to abide by the appropriate Codes for the wildlife they encounter.
There are primarily three levels of WiSe Scheme training (see below for more detail):
the two professional types of Standard WiSe course (boat operators, and adventure trip practitioners) and
a Master WiSe course, for those more experienced WiSe trained operators/practitioners, and
a Public course for general awareness.
New for 2021, the WiSe Scheme offers the Adventure WiSe course, targeting professional 'adventure' practitioners in the coastal/inter-tidal zone.
The Standard WiSe Course
(for boat operators)
This course level is the WiSe Scheme professional standard targeting boat-based operators, is currently being delivered in an online format due to Covid-19 restrictions and lasts around 4 hours, usually over two evening sessions or one single daytime session.
WiSe members commit to abide by not only national and local laws on wildlife conservation and disturbance avoidance, but also the WiSe Codes of Conduct, in addition to any local wildlife-watching codes.
We recommend that after 3 years, all accredited individuals at this level then undertake a Master course to upgrade their level of membership.
A WiSe Scheme boat-sticker, flag and logo are provided for promotional use, along with copies of all Codes of Conduct.
The Master WiSe course
This is the WiSe Scheme professional standard 'Plus' - our gold-standard level of accreditation.
Generally, an individual is eligible for WiSe Master accreditation if they have been a standard WiSe member for 3yrs. They can then attend a Master Class course - this is usually a one day workshop to refresh skills and gain new knowledge, although we are developing a new webinar format as part of our move to online courses.
WiSe Masters commit not only to the WiSe Codes of Conduct and local codes, but also to provide sightings data to the relevant sightings collection organisation, plus provide photo-identification images to research groups where appropriate. WiSe Masters should refresh their skills by attending follow-up Master classes when held in their area.
The WiSe Master boat-sticker, flag and logo are provided for promotional uses, and any updates to Codes of Conduct.
The Adventure WiSe course
This course has been developed to meet the needs of professional 'adventure' practitioners whose activities take place in the coastal/inter-tidal zone, such as sea kayaking, coasteering, stand up paddle boarding, wild swimming, etc.
Developed originally as a classroom and activity-based course, we have created an online version of the course to circumvent restrictions imposed by the current Covid-19 pandemic.
Accredited Adventure WiSe course attendees commit to abide by not only national and local laws on wildlife conservation and disturbance avoidance, but also the WiSe Codes of Conduct, in addition to any local wildlife-watching codes.
We recommend that after 3 years, all accredited individuals at this level then undertake a Master course to upgrade their level of membership. A WiSe Scheme Adventure course sticker and logo will be supplied for promotional use to all participants, along with copies of all Codes of Conduct.
Looking for WiSe trained Operators/Practitioners?
Find a responsible Boat Operator, Adventure or Wildlife Guide when choosing your wildlife-aware boat trip or coastal activity.
To find your nearest WiSe accredited organisation, download the relevant pdf from the list below for the region you're interested in.
If your local Operator/Practitioner isn't on the list, please tell them about the WiSe Scheme so they can get trained and listed.
Want to attend a WiSe Course to become WiSe trained or learn more?
Watch the videos below to get an introduction to watching wildlife the WiSe way.
WiSe Courses during Covid-19: restrictions in place recently mean that we've been less likely to run our usual classroom-based face-to--face courses. However, we have re-developed all our courses as online versions which have been successfully received during 2020-2022. These include our existing Standard course for all commercial boat operators and the Adventure course developed for near-shore based activities such as kayaking, coasteering, stand up paddle boarding, wild swimming, etc.
COURSES FOR Winter 2022/23:
As usual, we know many operators are busy during the summer season, so again we don't currently intend to run further courses during the Summer/early Autumn months.
However, if you would like to discuss attending a course, or if you know of multiple attendees and wish to get a specific course scheduled, please get in touch via the contact form below.
We will be back to you as soon as we can.
Advance booking/payment is essential for all courses. Standard WiSe course cost per attendee is £120 (no VAT). A discount may be available if 3 or more attendees are from the same organisation, made under one booking.
When a Master Course is scheduled, although Standard/Adventure WiSe Scheme members are welcome to attend the Master course event, WiSe Master accreditation is generally only available to those who've been Standard/Adventure WiSe members for at least 3 years - see accreditation types above).
To find out more, reserve a place, or ask about the next course in your area, don't hesitate to contact us.