Within the United Kingdom, the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) and subsequent amendments for Scotland, Northern Ireland and England and Wales (http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/page-1377) includes a list of species (Schedule 5) that are protected in different ways including killing, taking, disturbing, and possessing with intention to sell. Several marine invertebrates are protected, including distinctive species such as Eunicella verrucosa and Atrina fragilisi, and also some inconspicuous species, such as the tentacled lagoon-worm Alkmaria rominji. A range of fish species (e.g. Alosa alosa, A. fallax, Gobius couchii, G. cobitis, Hippocampus hippocampus and H. guttulatus) and most marine mammals are also included on Schedule 5.
Participants of the NMBAQC from outside the United Kingdom should consult their own national or regional legislation in relation to protected species.
Participants of the NMBAQC are encouraged to consult the current regulations and consider which protected species may be encountered during their field studies, and ensure that appropriate identification material is available and training given, so that any protected species caught inadvertently can be released. If a protected species is known to occur in a sampling programme, participating laboratories may need to seek an appropriate licence.
Protected species should not be collected for either Ring Tests or Reverse Ring Tests. Participating laboratories who are licensed to take protected species, or participating laboratories who find a protected species, that has been collected accidentally, in a sample could include such material in a RRT. Species protected in the UK may not be protected in other countries, and so laboratories from those nations may be legally able to retain such species and include them in a RRT.