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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 June 2007, 09:15 GMT 10:15 UK
'Ghost fishing' killing seabirds
Great skua. Picture by RSPB Scotland
Great skua have been among the seabird victims
Seabirds on the remote islands of St Kilda are being killed by discarded fishing gear, the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) has warned.

Great skua, gannet and fulmar have been found dead after becoming entangled in, or choking, on fishing line.

NTS said abandoned line and hooks continued to "ghost fish" for many years, snaring wild birds instead of fish.

The trust own the islands which lie 41 miles (65km) off the Western Isles.

They provide a breeding ground for more than 500,000 seabirds, including the largest northern gannet colony of over 60,000 pairs.

NTS said birds were getting accidentally entangled and killed by swallowing hooks and line from derelict fishing gear - either industrial or recreational - which is lost or deliberately discarded at sea.

It looks like the bonxie ate a fulmar which had swallowed a fish that was on a hook
Sarah Money
NTS ranger

Ranger Sarah Money said she had pulled more than a metre of line from the bill of a dead fulmar.

She said: "Sadly not only the bird itself died but the nest on which it was sitting will fail too as the single partner left behind cannot incubate the egg alone."

Pellets from two great skua - a predatory seabird also known as bonxie - have also been found with fishing hooks in them.

Ms Money said: "One of these contained both fulmar and fish remains, so it looks like the bonxie ate a fulmar which had swallowed a fish that was on a hook."

Three gannets have also been found entangled in fishing net, but were caught and set free.

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