The UK government has announced proposals to protect England’s seabirds, which are under threat from climate change and overfishing. The plans aim to establish new protected areas for seabirds and improve the management of existing ones.
The proposals have been welcomed by conservation groups, who say that the UK’s seabird populations have declined significantly in recent years. According to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the UK has lost 50% of its seabirds since 1970, with some species declining by as much as 80%.
The decline in seabird populations has been attributed to a range of factors, including climate change, overfishing, pollution, and habitat loss. Seabirds are particularly vulnerable to these threats because they rely on the marine environment for their food and breeding sites.
Under the proposed measures, the UK government would establish new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) for seabirds in waters around England. These MPAs would provide a range of protections for seabirds, including restrictions on fishing and other activities that could harm their populations.
In addition, the proposals would seek to improve the management of existing MPAs, ensuring that they are effectively protecting seabirds and other marine wildlife. This would involve greater monitoring and enforcement of the regulations governing these areas.
The proposals have been welcomed by the RSPB, which has long campaigned for stronger protections for seabirds. Martin Harper, the charity’s director of global conservation, said: “We are delighted to see the UK government taking positive steps to protect our much-loved seabirds. These birds are a vital part of our marine environment and play a crucial role in maintaining healthy seas and ecosystems.”
The UK government has also announced plans to review the effectiveness of its existing seabird conservation measures, including its Seabird Conservation Framework. This review will examine whether the current measures are adequate to address the threats facing seabirds and identify areas where further action may be needed.
The proposals come as the UK prepares to host the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) later this year. The conference, which will take place in Glasgow in November, is expected to be a key moment in the global effort to tackle climate change.
The UK government has said that its proposals to protect seabirds are part of its wider commitment to protect the environment and combat climate change. George Eustice, Environment Secretary said: “Our seas are home to some of our most coveted and cherished wildlife, but climate change and over-fishing are putting this at risk. That is why we are taking action to protect our seabirds and the marine environment as part of our wider efforts to combat climate change and protect the natural world for future generations.”