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Latest UK seabird statistics from the Seabird Monitoring Programme

News Item 2020

Since 1986, 25 species of seabird that breed at colonies in the UK, Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands have been monitored annually by the Seabird Monitoring Programme (SMP). This work is co-ordinated by JNCC, in partnership with 18 other organisations and hundreds of volunteers.

A significant proportion of the world population of several seabird species occur in the UK. These include Manx shearwater (80% of world population), northern gannet (56%), European shag (34%), great skua (60%), lesser black-backed gull (38%) and razorbill (20%).

Presenting breeding abundance and productivity trends aids in the fulfilment of the UK legal obligation to safeguard seabird populations. Seabirds play an important part in UK recreation and culture and can provide cost-effective indicators of marine environmental change.

Seabird Population Trends and Causes of Change: 1986–2018 Report presents the latest trends in breeding seabird numbers and productivity, along with information on survival rates and diet. Information on the likely causes of change are also provided and are based on recent research.

The report includes population data for all 25 seabird species, with species that have increased or declined by more than 30% listed here:

Decreasing UK trends 2000–2018

Between 2000 and 2018, breeding abundance of the following five species was estimated to have declined by greater than 30% at a UK level:

  • Arctic skua (-70%)
  • Black-legged kittiwake (-50%)
  • Lesser black-backed gull; natural nesters only (-73%)
  • Herring gull; natural nesters only (-47%),
  • Northern fulmar (-36%)

Increasing UK trends 2000–2018

Between 2000 and 2018, breeding abundance of the following three species was estimated to have increased by more than 30% at a UK level:

  • Razorbill (+33%)
  • Black-headed gull (+32%)
  • Northern gannet (+41%)


(Photo: R. Howells)

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