RSPB urges Brown to protect marine wildlife –

RSPB urges Brown to protect marine wildlife Published:  03 July, 2007

Gordon Brown

THE Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is urging Britain’s new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown to ensure the first Queen’s Speech of his premiership includes protection for the UK’s marine wildlife.

A recent analysis has shown that UK seas regularly support 18 species of fish, mammal, bird or reptile that are considered at risk of global extinction. This compares with only three such endangered species on land or freshwater: two species of bat and a non-breeding migrant warbler.

“Currently, the protection of sites and species on land is not mirrored in the marine environment, leaving species and habitats vulnerable to many threats, including over-harvesting and habitat destruction,” the RSPB said in a statement. It said this “omission” is of great concern to both it and a range of other conservation partners calling for new legislation to protect the UK’s seas and their wildlife.

Comementing, Dr Mark Avery, the RSPB’s Conservation Director, said: “As a maritime nation, throughout history we have looked to the sea to provide food, sources of energy, means of transportation, and recreation. In future, increasing demands will be placed upon fragile marine environments, so we want to see a robust marine planning system to ensure that nature is protected alongside increasing commercial interests.

“The UK government has a very poor track record on designating marine wildlife sites…We trust that Gordon Brown will honour his party’s manifesto commitment to provide a marine bill before the next election. His commitment to marine protection will be an early test of his environmental credentials.”

The vulnerability of marine wildlife is highlighted by the fact that our seas once would have supported regular populations of even more species. The grey whale – now found only in the North Pacific – was a regular visitor to UK waters. Because of over-persecution, this species is now extinct in the North Atlantic.

Formerly, the blue and right whales, and sturgeon – all species with dangerously low global populations – would have been regular visitors to UK waters. They are now only recorded very infrequently and have declined massively through over-harvesting.

Dr Mark Avery added: “History reminds us that without proper protection marine species are vulnerable to extinction. How many more species do we need to lose before other threatened marine wildlife receives protection?” is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.