Puffins threatened by overfishing of European boats in UK waters after Brexit, RSPB warns | UK News
Overfishing by Scandinavian boats in UK waters threatens the puffin, wildlife conservation groups say.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has renewed its calls for “urgent action” to curb the fishing practices of boats from countries like Denmark and Norway.
Under EU quota agreements that continued until Brexit, foreign fishing vessels have almost exclusive access to sandeel fishing off the British coasts.
Sandeel is the staple food for Atlantic puffins and other seabirds, but its supply has already been affected by climate change.
Environmentalists say warming seas have led to a reduction in numbers near the coast and have warned that systematic overfishing is depriving more species, like puffins, already threatened with extinction.
Alex Kinninmonth, responsible for maritime policy at RSPB in Scotland, told Sky News: “Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of sandeel are removed from the North Sea each year, impacting seabirds and other wildlife. “
“For many years there has been a huge industrial fishery in the North Sea, mainly for boats from Denmark and a few from Sweden and other EU countries.”
“It’s an industrial fishery, not for human consumption. It’s broken down into fishmeal and fish oil which go into all kinds of industrial processes like agricultural feed and fertilizer.”
“There is a big problem with this because it conflicts with wildlife conservation. There are far too many fish being taken out of the sea and not enough to maintain thriving seabird populations.
“One of the options available to UK ministers is to manage our fisheries in our own waters after Brexit, so that we can close UK waters to sandeel fishing.
“It would have the biggest gains for most UK waters, it would be our preferred option, but we don’t underestimate the political challenge in that – there are all kinds of political arrangements around water access.
“What governments could do is work with partners across the North Sea to improve the scientific evidence, to ensure that there is a ‘reserve’ for seabirds when setting up. annual catch limits for sandeel fishing in the North Sea. “
Mr Kinninmonth added: “We are currently in a climate emergency, so it is really not acceptable for governments to allow industrial fishing to operate in a way that impacts our wildlife. time to save seabirds and a host of other critically declining wildlife. “
Some areas of UK waters are closed to sandeel fishing, but conservationists want this extended to a complete ban.
The Scottish government has said it will look into the matter urgently.
Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon told the Scottish Parliament on 9 June: ‘I fully understand the concern about sandeel as it is about the ecosystem at large and the impact it has. a on species whose number is decreasing. urgently to see what measures we can potentially put in place. “
A spokesperson for the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs told Sky News: “Sands play a vital role in the marine food chain, and we are committed to working closely with our partners. partners, in particular the EU, Norway and the Faroe Islands. to manage shared stocks in a sustainable way.