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RSPB hopes fishing ban will boost coastal bird numbers

A ban on sandeel fishing could boost kittiwake and puffin numbers on the East Yorkshire coast, say conservationists. A ban on trawlers from the UK, EU and other nations from fishing for the small fish in the North Sea has come into force.

Officials at RSPB Bempton Cliffs said sandeels are a vital source of food for the half-a-million seabirds living on the cliffs at the nature reserve. Visitor experience officer Poppy Rummery said: “Hopefully, they’ll now have more food when they are out fishing for their chicks and themselves, which should increase numbers.”

An effective ban on sandeel fishing has been in place since 2021, but the Government announced plans to extend the restrictions earlier this year.

Bird expert David Tomlinson told Shooting Times: “The ban on sandeel fishing has to be good news for Britain’s seabirds. Until recently, the Danish were fuelling their power stations with sandeels caught in the North Sea, hardly a wise use of such a resource.

Incidentally, sandeels make poor eating for humans, but are a vital food for many of our seabirds, which include puffins and kittiwakes.”