Scottish seabird decline

This video is called Scottish Seabird Centre 2011.

From Wildlife Extra:

Scotland’s seabirds have declined 53% in 25 years

New report confirms Scotland’s seabird decline

November 2012. A new report by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has confirmed results from previous years that showed that Scotland’s seabird numbers have continued to decline, although there are some species that have fared better than others.

53% drop in breeding seabirds in 25 years

The report uses data collected by volunteers and professionals from a sample of breeding colonies around Scotland. It shows that, from 1986 to 2011, the numbers of seabirds breeding in Scotland has dropped by around 53%.

11 species reviewed

Of the 11 species reviewed over the 25-year period, the numbers of nine decreased. The largest declines were for the Arctic skua (74%), Arctic tern (72%) and black-legged kittiwake (66%). Two seabirds have remained stable (black guillemot and northern fulmar).

Food shortages, weather conditions and predation by non-native species

The continuing decreases have been linked to a range of factors such as food shortages, weather conditions and predation by non-native species such as brown rats and mink. The number of small shoaling fish, which are an important food source for many seabirds, may have fallen. These fish are probably being affected by rising sea temperatures because of climate change, as well as other factors.

Efforts to halt the decline

A range of measures has been put in place to help combat pressures on the seabirds. Voluntary reductions in sandeel fisheries means that very little if any sandeel fishing now takes place within the foraging range of kittiwakes, a species which has seen a particularly sharp drop in numbers in recent years. The control of non-native predators, such as the brown rat and the American mink, has also been carried out on various parts of the Scottish coastline and islands and is now starting to show some benefits, with terns re-colonising some areas. The Scottish Government’s Marine Bill also includes measures to improve marine nature conservation to safeguard and protect Scotland’s unique habitats.

Susan Davies, SNH’s Director of Policy & Advice, said: “These results aren’t surprising, as they echo results from recent years. Thanks to the huge effort from volunteers and professionals, we’re now able to monitor seabird numbers much more effectively than in the past. The results give even more impetus to continue the actions already in place to improve the situation for seabirds. It’s vital that we continue to monitor the state of Scotland’s seabirds and the marine environment and to use this information to guide future actions.”

Scotland’s seabirds are internationally important with around four million breeding seabirds of 24 species. The recent drop in numbers follows two decades of occasional years of poor breeding – but poor years have happened more often and with more severity since 2000.

This SNH report was prepared using data from the Seabird Monitoring Programme. The Seabird Monitoring Programme is a partnership project, led and co-ordinated by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and involving a range of conservation partners.

RSPB comments

In response to this report by Scottish Natural Heritage. Rory Crawford, seabird policy officer with RSPB Scotland, said: “This report from SNH is timely. These declines are in line with what we’ve seen on our own reserves and this should act as a call to action. Better management of the sandeel fishery and efforts to control non-native species are both really welcome and RSPB Scotland support these steps strongly. However, although the nature conservation measures in the Marine (Scotland) Act are a brilliant step forward for many marine habitats and species, seabirds have been largely ignored in the process of identifying protected areas. Seabirds must be better protected at sea and RSPB Scotland strongly encourages the Scottish Government to ensure that steps are taken to protect seabirds through Marine Protected Areas before they are consulted on next summer.”

October 2013. A new report produced by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) confirms the results from previous years showing that Scotland’s seabird numbers are continuing to decline, although there are two species that have fared better than others: here.

Sandeel fishing linked to Scottish seabird decline: here.

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