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Wales' seabirds say 'thank you' as Welsh Government announces protected sites at sea

Last modified: 07 October 2014

Thank you image created by artist Theo Shields at LLanddwyn

Image: The RSPB

RSPB Cymru would like to say ‘thank you’ to the Welsh Government for taking an important step towards protecting special sites for our seabirds in Wales' coastal waters.

Today the Minister for Natural Resources Carl Sargeant announced additional protection in the seas around three key sites for seabirds. This follows a public consultation which was held earlier this year by Natural Resources Wales (NRW). 

The sites are RSPB Grassholm, the Wildlife Trusts of South and West Wales islands of Skomer and Skokholm, and Bardsey Island, which is managed by the Bardsey Island Trust.

This means that between 2–9 km of the seas around these islands are now protected by law, and going forward these areas will need to be managed effectively for the benefit of these birds and other sealife that rely on them.

These sites will contribute to the network of protected special sites at sea, used by breeding seabirds aiding the colonies to be healthier and more resilient to other issues such as the effects of climate change,  like the recent winter storms and sea temperature rise.

Gareth Cunningham RSPB Cymru Marine Policy Officer says: “The seas around islands like these are so important for our seabirds as these are where the birds socialise. Birds like gannets, Manx shearwaters and puffins will use areas like this for preening, bathing and displaying.”

He adds: “This is a great step forwards, but there is still more to be done, by  the end of 2015 we need to protect other essential marine areas for seabirds, especially where the birds feed further out at sea. 

'Working with local communities and industry we hope that Welsh Government identifies the best ways of managing these sites for seabirds, now and in the future.”

RSPB Grassholm is home to 40,000 pairs of gannets – this is 10 per cent of the world's population. Skomer and Skokholm are estimated to be home to over 350,000 Manx shearwaters, with a massive 50 per cent of the world's population born in Wales. Bardsey Island holds another 16,000 pairs of Manx shearwaters and was home to Wales's oldest recorded razorbill, aged 41 in 2008.

The twin challenges of biodiversity loss and climate change, can only be met by changing the way we live and think today. RSPB Cymru will continue to work with the Welsh Government to seek improvements and a bright future for Welsh seabirds.

RSPB Cymru commissioned local artist Theo Shields to create a sand art picture at LLanddwyn Beach, Anglesey, North Wales in the form of a gannet, Manx shearwater and puffin to express their thanks to the Welsh Government.

To read the announcement from Welsh Government in full please go to

How you can help

Current proposals to create marine protected areas in the waters of each country offer almost no protection for seabirds. With the support of people like you, we can continue to fight for better protection for our seas.

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