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Birds: Conservation

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 87763, tabled on 6 December 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to halt and reverse population declines in (a) puffins and (b) other seabirds.

Answered on

14 December 2021

The UK’s seabirds, including puffins, are an important part of our natural heritage, and their protection is a high priority for this government.

We are working with Natural England to develop a comprehensive and ambitious English Seabird Conservation Strategy which we are aiming to publish in summer 2022. This strategy will aim to assess the vulnerability of each seabird species in light of the pressures they are facing and propose actions to address them.

Forage fish such as sandeels play a crucial role in the health of the wider North Sea marine ecosystem. Seabirds and other sensitive marine species rely on sandeels as a food source. Sandeel stocks are highly sensitive to changing environmental conditions and this is affecting the resilience of the seabird populations. Defra and the UK Fisheries Administrations recently concluded a call for evidence on Sandeels and Norway pout to help inform future decision making to ensure these stocks are managed sustainably in the future. The responses are currently being analysed to feed into next steps.

We are also developing a UK Bycatch Mitigation Initiative which we will be publishing early next year. This document will outline actions to tackle the bycatch of sensitive marine species, including seabirds, in UK waters.