UK may ban sandeel fishing to protect endangered seabirds | fishing | Daily News Byte

UK may ban sandeel fishing to protect endangered seabirds |  fishing

 | Daily News Byte

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Sandel fishing in UK waters could be banned next year under “gamechanging” government plans to protect puffin and kittiwake numbers, the Guardian can reveal.

Sandel is a small fish that is important to the marine food web in the UK, and is an important part of the diet of many seabirds. For example, since the 1960s the number of kittiwakes in the UK – which are particularly dependent on chameleon – has halved, with the reduced availability of prey during the breeding season thought to be mainly responsible.

Small fish are harvested mainly by non-UK fishing boats, which are used as feed for farmed salmon and livestock. While the biggest threat to their population numbers is warming oceans under climate change, industrial fishing puts more pressure on them.

A call for evidence by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) last year found that industrial fishing of sandhills could negatively impact populations of the UK’s most beloved and endangered species, including puffins and kittiwakes.

Now, department sources have confirmed that the practice will be banned early next year, starting with a stakeholder consultation in January.

While the move is likely to disappoint some in the fishing industry, wildlife campaigners have welcomed the potential ban.

The RSPB’s head of marine policy, Helen McLachlan, said: “A UK-wide ban on industrial trawling for sandhills could transform our efforts to protect our threatened seabirds. The UK’s globally important seabird colonies are in trouble with iconic birds such as puffins and kittiwakes at risk of being pushed to the brink of extinction. A ban on angler fishing in UK waters will protect the fish that our wonderful seabirds, their young and many other marine species need to survive.

“Over the last few decades our seabirds have declined due to increasing threats from climate change and other human activities. We are running out of time to save some of the UK’s best-loved wildlife and a ban on industrial sandhill fishing could be the single biggest thing decision-makers can do next year to make our seabirds a lifeline.”

John Edwards, director of marine policy and public affairs at the Wildlife Trusts, added: “Sandeel stocks are essential for young seabirds, and are particularly linked to the health of puffin and kittiwake colonies; Yet they are targeted by foreign supertrawlers, fished in marine protected areas, and often sold as feed for chickens, pigs, and farmed salmon.

“We have waited too long, since the call for evidence came out last year – we need to act to secure the future of this important fish, which is a vital part of the marine ecosystem, providing food for a whole range of species, including harbor porpoises. does, terns, pollock and mackerel.”

Nicola Cusack, fisheries policy manager at the Marine Conservation Society, said: “We support the UK Government’s proposals to further protect sandhills in UK waters from the effects of climate change and fishing activities. It is vital that bold new approaches like these are taken to ensure our oceans remain teeming with life for generations to come.”

A Defra spokesman said: “We have looked at the impact of industrial sandfish fishing in our call for evidence from industry and environmental organizations in 2021, and want to set out next steps in due course.”

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