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RSPB Scotland welcomes Government protection for Scotland’s seabirds

Nesting Gannets Credit: Scottish Seabird Centre

Nesting Gannets Credit: Scottish Seabird Centre

RSPB Scotland has today welcomed the Scottish Government’s decision to designate 14 draft Special Protection Areas (SPAs) for seabirds and 30 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to safeguard Scotland’s marine environments.

These announcements are a crucial first step towards creating a network of protected areas necessary to conserve seabirds, and halt the decline of some of Scotland’s internationally important seabird populations.

According to the Government’s own figures, nine of the 11 seabird species for which a trend can be calculated have shown sustained declines since 1986.  Arctic skuas have plummeted by 80%, Arctic terns by 72% and kittiwakes by 68%. Protecting the nesting and feeding areas of seabirds is a requirement of the EU Birds Directive passed in 1979. The UK and Scotland have lagged behind other countries in designating appropriate areas for protection.

A recent report by RSPB Scotland identified key sites to be designated as special protection areas for seabirds, which were essential for the Scottish Government to meet its conservation obligations. The wildlife charity welcomes the 14 sites announced today as a significant first step, but more work is required, particularly to rapidly identify key offshore feeding areas vital for the long term survival of Scotland’s seabird heritage.

The RSPB states: “A number of crucially important areas, for example parts of the outer Firth of Forth, have not yet been protected for seabirds, despite their enormous value to gannets, kittiwakes and other species. Worryingly this is the same area being scoped for large scale offshore wind development.”

RSPB Scotland looks forward to continuing working with the Government to finish the designation job, enhance the seas around our coasts and restore our seabird and marine wildlife heritage.”

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