Thursday, 24 March 2016

Proposed Sea Bird Special Areas of Protection

"The powers that be" Natural Resources Wales"  have proposed "Special Areas of Protection" for sea birds in Welsh waters. It seems to me there has been a failure to recognise the expertise and huge knowledge base of organised amateur naturalists and birdwatchers.  

Proposals to create six new marine protected areas in Wales – consultation underway

2 February 2016
Article by Rachel Prior, National Assembly for Wales Research Service

The three proposed Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are designed to protect threatened species of seabirds, particularly migratory birds. The first is an extension of an existing SPA at Anglesey to protect breeding tern colonies and their foraging area. The second is in Northern Cardigan Bay to protect the wintering population of red throated diver. The third is an extension to an existing SPA at Skomer and Skokholm for Manx shearwater and Atlantic Puffin. Skomer and Skokholm already protect large populations of Manx shearwater, less black backed gull and Atlantic Puffin. The new SPA would include the islands themselves and further large sea areas extending from the Pembrokeshire coast.

It seems odd that the area around the Smalls where over the past fifteen years we have encountered huge congregations of  rafting Manx Shearwaters, has been overlooked.

Probably the most glaring omission is the fact that a significant percentage of the population of one of the worlds rarest and endangered sea birds the Balearic Shearwater  Puffinus mauretanicus is monitored passing Strumble head and has been for a couple of decades.

Sea Trust must share part of the blame as we have concentrated our efforts on cetaceans and perhaps should have made better efforts to record the Shearwater congregations off the Smalls. This area holds by far the largest rafting area where the rafts,  on occasion have covered several hectares of birds feeding on small herring fry. On the other hand we did inform the Welsh Government of our concerns regarding the Round Britain Powerboat Race some years ago whose course took them through that area.