Wildlife Trusts applauds Welsh Government action on seabird protection

Tuesday 7th October 2014

Photo by Nigel Mccall

Today the Welsh Government announced the extension of the protected area around Skomer and Skokholm islands.

This announcement means that the Special Protection Area (European designation for bird protection) around the islands will have its boundary extended 4km out to sea. This extra area includes important areas for these important bird species to feed and rest in.

The announcement today means the extension of not only the Special Protection Area (SPA) around Skomer and Skokholm but also Grassholm Island SPA and Glannau Aberdaron ac Ynys Enlli/Aberdaron Coast and Bardsey Island SPA which had their boundaries extended 2km and 9km respectively. This will aid the UK wide goal of creating an ecologically coherent network of marine protected areas to safeguard the Welsh and UK seas for the future.

The Wildlife Trusts who own Skokholm Island and co-manage Skomer Island welcome the extension.

Dr Lizzie Wilberforce, conservation manager at the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, said:

“Skomer and Skokholm Islands are of international importance for their populations of breeding seabirds. They are most important for the Manx shearwater- with over 300,000 breeding pairs on Skomer and 45,000 breeding pairs on Skokholm, these two islands are home to over half the world population of this species. The global scale of this responsibility means that appropriate management of the islands and their surrounding waters is critical to the species’ future success. The islands also host and support cutting-edge research by leading universities into the ecology of the Manx shearwater and other species, which helps inform legal and management changes that support their conservation.”

“They are also particularly important for their population of Storm Petrel- particularly Skokholm, being home to around 5% of the European population. They also important for their breeding populations of Razorbill, Guillemot, Kittiwake, Fulmar, and Lesser black-backed gulls. Together these features make them the most important seabird colony in southern Britain, and causing them to be highly protected under both domestic and European legislation. They are also amongst the most accessible, providing a significant tourist attraction which supports the local green tourism economy.”

Scott Fryer, Marine Campaign and Advocacy Officer at Wildlife Trusts Wales, said: 

“The Wildlife Trusts in Wales would like to congratulate the new Natural Resources Minister, Carl Sargeant on increasing the size of the three protected areas around the Welsh coast. This is a great step to help further protect these internationally important bird species. We would like the next step to be the designation of additional sites to ensure that Wales’ unique marine wildlife is protected and to help Wales achieve its goal of a sustainable future. Extra sites are needed for mobile species such as harbour porpoise and further sites for bird populations.”