Police join up with wildlife experts to protect East Coast seabirds

Police are joining forces with wildlife experts after increasing concern about threats to the East Coast’s marine wildlife.

By Sarah Fitton
Tuesday, 1st September 2020, 9:04 am
Updated Tuesday, 1st September 2020, 2:44 pm
Thornwick Bay, Flamborough
Thornwick Bay, Flamborough

Operation Seabird is aimed at ensuring dolphins, seals, birds and other animals can go about their lives without disruption.

It was launched on Sunday August 30 with joint patrols around Scarborough’s North Bay to ensure that marine wildlife there was being respected.

Further proactive patrols will continue along the coast over the coming months.

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The number of marine mammals in the area are thought to be increasing, say police, particularly close inshore from Scarborough southwards – but they are vulnerable to disturbance from jet skis, kayaks, speedboats and other vessels.

And more than 250,000 seabirds nest around Flamborough and Filey each summer, but disturbances could reduce their chances of having a successful breeding season.

The new operation brings together North Yorkshire Police and Humberside Police as well as Scarborough Borough Council, East Riding of Yorkshire Council, the RSPCA, the RSPB, the

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and the Flamborough Head European Marine Site Management Scheme.

PC Adam Marshall, from North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said: “It’s a real privilege to have such diverse marine wildlife visiting and making its home on our stretch of coastline.

“That’s why it’s so important we all do our bit to protect it. By keeping disruption to an absolute minimum, we can help these animals thrive, and ensure future generations can enjoy their presence too.

“Following simple guidelines will ensure marine mammals and seabirds are kept safe and undisturbed.

“Operation Seabird is all about advising and educating people to behave responsibly around wildlife.

“We don’t want to resort to enforcement action, but won’t hesitate to do so if required.”

PC Rich Fussey, from Humberside Police, added: “The Yorkshire coastline is a fantastic landscape that’s an important feeding and breeding ground for a variety of seabirds and marine mammals.

“Unfortunately we have a number of reports each year of members of the public on the water approaching too closely to the wildlife that live in the area, including the nesting seabirds and marine mammals.

“Operation Seabird is a multi-agency partnership operation to educate the public about the importance of the resident wildlife and the impact that these disturbance events can cause.

“The key focus of the operation is to ensure that members of the public, who are using the waters along the Yorkshire coast, do so in a responsible way.

“We want to ensure they keep their distance from the wildlife to prevent intentional disturbance and to safeguard this stretch of coastline, allowing future generations to enjoy the spectacle we see today.”

RSPCA Inspector Geoff Edmond, national wildlife coordinator, said dolphins are now regularly visiting the East Coast as well as nationally-important breeding seabird population.

He said people should be encouraged to enjoy seeing these creatures but also keep a safe distance and low speeds so that they are not disturbed.

Police are advising people to avoid disturbing marine mammals by travelling slowly and approaching from the side, as well as observing them from more than 100 metres away and allowing them space to move away.

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