Page last updated at 12:03 GMT, Monday, 12 January 2009

By-law call over seabird deaths

Razorbill
The majority of seabirds caught have been razorbills

A conservation charity is calling for a by-law to help prevent the deaths of hundreds seabirds caught up in fishing nets on the North Yorkshire coast.

Large numbers of birds have become entangled and drowned in the gill nets used by salmon fishermen in Filey Bay.

Last summer, video of dying birds caught in nets was taken by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

The charity wants the Environment Agency, which licenses the fishery, to implement a by-law.

Mark Thomas of the RSPB said: "While filming from a hidden location on the seafront we were shocked to see large numbers of seabirds struggling to avoid drowning in nets.

"We believe the fishermen could easily have released the birds earlier, but instead they chose to release their haul of fish, ignoring over 40 birds floundering for several hours.

We want to find a sustainable solution which allows birds, fish and local economy to benefit from this high quality environment
Mark Scott, Environment Agency

"Similarly, a few days earlier we'd filmed lots of birds which had died in a fishing net left set overnight."

The RSPB said it was concerned the fishery was not being sustainably managed and said more could be achieved by good practice, underpinned by enforceable legislation.

The majority of seabirds caught have been razorbills, which are thought to have come from colonies on the nearby Flamborough Head protected sites, including the RSPB's Bempton Cliffs nature reserve.

Mark Scott, from the Environment Agency, said: "We don't have direct legal powers to close the fishery at Filey, so we are looking at the alternative options to protect the seabirds whilst maintaining a viable fishery.

"We are funding a study at Filey to look at all the scientific evidence to see if the numbers of birds being caught by the fishing is having an adverse effect on the local seabird population.

"This is a unique set of circumstances which have required us to find a way forward that is in everyone's interests.

"We want to find a sustainable solution which allows birds, fish and local economy to benefit from this high quality environment."



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SEE ALSO
Seabirds 'dying in fishing nets'
03 Jul 08 |  North Yorkshire
'Ghost fishing' killing seabirds
28 Jun 07 |  Highlands and Islands
Food fears for UK seabirds
10 Jun 05 |  Science & Environment
Salmon fishing threat to seabirds
02 Aug 04 |  Scotland

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