Sandeel fishing ban provides boost for seabirds


In a rare win for wildlife, DEFRA has this week announced a total ban on sandeel fishing in the North Sea.

The announcement on Wednesday [31 January] by the government body that industrial sandeel fishing will no longer be permitted in English waters is a crucial step towards safeguarding seabird populations.

The tiny fish are important parts of seabird diets and many are harvested, mainly by non-UK fishing boats, to be made into feed for farmed salmon and livestock. While the largest threat to their population numbers is heating seas under climate breakdown, industrial fishing pressures them further.

Sandeels form an important part of a Puffin's diet (Carl Bovis).


Bottom trawling ban

As well as this, DEFRA stated announced a partial ban on bottom trawling in some marine protected areas.

In response to the news, RSPB Chief Executive Beccy Speight said: "Answering the RSPB's call to end industrial sandeel fishing, this announcement is a vital lifeline from our government for our seabirds when they need it most. The UK is home to globally important seabird colonies, but these populations are at the forefront of the nature and climate emergency and are in significant decline, with their resilience being pushed to the limit.

"To support the recovery of our seabirds, the RSPB has long recommended an end to industrial sandeel fishing in UK waters to secure vital food sources for these amazing birds. A call that has been passionately backed by tens of thousands of our members and supporters when DEFRA launched a public consultation on the issue.

"Halting wildlife decline and putting nature on the path to recovery must be supported by a programme of government actions and the announcement represents one of those jigsaw pieces, along with demonstrating that overwhelmingly the public supports these actions that enable nature's recovery."